Friday, April 8, 2011


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.


  1. I was struggling with my own interpretation of a poem and thought 10 minutes in here, with very strong coffee would be a good break...

    Blimey! You are a deep end gal, aren't you!Must say, it's looking most interesting.

  2. Wow. You are like a machine with all these new prints, and keeping Elvis Press-ley (love it!) busy-busy.

    I can see the subtle sparkle of the mica powder, and I can only imagine how amazing it looks in person. I've used Pearl-Ex powders in the past for similar effects [mixed with oil paint or straight Liquin] in mixed media sculpture I used to do.

  3. This is very good, looking at the print now (and having not read the poem), I would be tempted to leave it as it is. I like the mica powder idea, I wouldn't have thought of that - I'd have gone with glitter!

  4. I like how creative you are and how you share your thinking process. Very inspirig. thank you.

  5. Diana, if by "deep end" you mean "in over my head," then, yes. That's me. ;-)

    Sonya, I thought about metallic ink for a short while, but I talked to a few people who weren't pleased with the results they had with them. I'm delighted with the mica powder, even though I got it EVERYWHERE. (Don't sneeze with the jar open is all I have to say.)

    Stuart, I may leave it. But it's just sooooo tempting to keep messing with it when I know I can always make more. I never realized that reduction printing was so effective at keeping me from wandering off on tangent!

    Ghislaine, thank YOU. (I'm really enjoying your sketches in your new sketchbook, too!)

  6. Beautiful! The mica is gorgeous and, yes, subtle. I really like the picture-inside-a-picture thing you're doing. Interesting to hear how using multiple blocks feels to you after using the more restrictive reduction process for so long.

  7. I love the whole experimental quality of the project. The mica is really fascinating, and the colaboration is quite a challenge. Good luck with the multiple blocks. I've found it's very similar to reduction, tho there's something scary about it still for me.

  8. Cool! Stretching your boundaries in all sorts of ways. Scary is good, experimenting is good--misprints, mistakes and all. And look at the things you're learning--I can't wait to see this particular haiku/art pair!

  9. Susan Tweit used the word I was gonna use: cool.
    For those who don't know me, I'm the "local poet," who's inflicting all this messy experimentation upon Ms Sherrie. I've mentioned it, elsewheres, Sherrie, but I'll repeat myself: I'm perpetually jawdroppingly blown-away by what you're doing here. Susan Tweit, also beat me to the punch in saying what I was fixin' to say: I can't wait to see how this puppy turns out!

  10. This is really different, interesting, beautiful, and sparkly! I would like to see it in person. And read the poem along with it.
    Excellent use of mica powder!!