Educational, that's what the last couple of days have been! I've been working on my print for the Salida Regional Library's upcoming exhibition, "Haiku: Capturing the Essence," and it's been a different process for me in several ways.
1) I'm collaborating with poet Eduardo Rey Brummel, who has written an evocative and epic multi-stanza haiku. It's not often (read: almost never) that I work from someone else's words unless it's an illustration project. Art and illustration are completely different beasts for me, partly because most of my illustration work is in paint rather than relief prints, but also because my illustrations most often accompany educational text rather than poetry. They're darn literal.
For this project I'm trying to take a different tack, trying to break out of a straightforward landscape view. And I'm trying for subtle. (That "essence" thing in the exhibition title.) I struggle with subtle.
2) New technique! Elvis Press-ley is playing a role in this piece, although parts are still done by hand.
3) New materials! New papers. Mica powder.
4) Multiple blocks. This is the part that's making everything so complicated. Well, maybe not complicated... the blocks themselves are quite simple. But instead of being obliged to move steadily forward from one step to the next as I am in a reduction print, I have the luxury of printing elements lots of different ways until I find something I like. So of course I can't stop dinking around with all the pieces.
Here's where we are so far.
Eduardo's poem employs "sparkly" language: Words like shimmer and glisten. I like the imagery, but since I'm aiming for something more like a whisper than a shout, rhinestones and a tube of glitter glue are out of the question. The solution turned out to be mica powder, which I got from McClain's.
In this image, shot at a weird angle so you can see what's happening, I printed a tracery of branches in white ink on white paper... then sprinkled mica dust onto the wet ink. (Just like glitter onto glue in the days before they premixed them.) It's subtle (hooray!) and changes according to the angle of view. I have no idea if it's going to show well under glass, but hey... it's worth a try.
Second step was a block of blended color. This shape is, I hope, suggesting a waterway– an image also present in Eduardo's poem. I really like that some of the mica-embellished white branches show through. It becomes less obvious in the next step... and part of me was tempted to stop at this point. It's an effect worth keeping in mind for future projects.
No more suggestion here. The waterway and its surrounding vegetation are defined. This step took me FOREVER to figure out. I originally printed it black, but that seemed too contrasty. (Subtle, Sherrie! Subtle.) I kept lightening the gray... then tried a brown, and a blue, and ultimately ended up with a blend that goes from light gray to a gray-green.
Naturally, my camera doesn't manage subtle very well, either. Here's a closer look at the slightly debossed footprint barely visible in the lower right corner of the landscape. (No, really... it's there. Look harder.) Another image from Eduardo's poem.
I'm feeling okay about the piece so far, although it still feels like something is missing. There's a lot of circularity to the poem, but in my early sketches for this piece a blatant big circle seemed... well... blatant. The good news is that I have a ridiculous number of experimental pieces to keep playing with until I decide. Or the deadline arrives. Whichever comes first.