Saturday, April 23, 2011

Prints, books, and a definition of insanity

Implements of obsessive compulsion.
Oh, YOU know the Albert Einstein quote: "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result." I'm still working on the aforementioned not-fit-for-public-consumption print, and it's getting worse rather than better. I should probably just bag the whole thing, but I have been programmed by decades of "we learn better from our mistakes" propaganda. No doubt I'll carry on to the bitter end, hoping some insight will come of it.

When I'm in this sort of printing quagmire I'm never quite certain if looking at the work of other people is inspirational or depressing. My feed reader, oblivious to my mental state, keeps throwing the posts of (currently) productive printmaker/bloggers in my path and of course I look at them. Will I be inspired or chagrined? Or perhaps both?

If my feed reader doesn't provide enough torment, then I take a gander at my long list of bookmarked artist websites. Last week I popped in to see what Ian Phillips was up to, and darned if it didn't end up costing me confidence (briefly) AND cash.

Ian has published a book of his reduction linocuts. Oy vey! I had to have it. Drawing the Line arrived yesterday and it's a thing of beauty. (You can preview the book either on Ian's website or in the Blurb bookstore.)

The DM and I harbor a strong desire to visit Wales, and Ian's work only deepens that desire. His ability to imbue the Welsh landscape with mystery, richness, and drama using a limited palette and bold design I find completely engaging. And humbling. Here I am, noodling away at all this crazy detail, and Ian's graceful and graphic line says it all. Thank you, Mr. Phillips, for sharing your work in way that I can obsess over at my leisure.

The good news is that Drawing the Line scores as inspiration, renewing my desire to get out and scour my own landscape for its reduction-printable essence. Thanks for that, too, Ian. I have to get back to work.


  1. Congrats, Sherrie,
    Buying a book like that is a smart move- a consoling treat for enduring print frustration, a kick in the butt inspiration to continue your work, and a friend to turn to in times when you need exactly what it can offer....

    God bless our fellow artists for the community of their work... We may never know them personally, they may have been dead for ages, but they're still "Immediate family.

  2. Just looked through Ian's book. It's really wonderful, his colors and his way with real/abstract. LOVED his skies
    and waters, and how the entire print is so integrated, every detail is sewn back into the overall image. He throws OUT more than he keeps- the results? Exquisite.

  3. Yupper, I know the double-edge sword of discouragement/inspiration wrought from the work of others'. On one hand, "Yikes, I've so far to go..." whereas on the other hand, "Oh, goody. Lookit what's possible...."

    Good thing we've but two hands.

  4. Ian Phillips' work is something special that I would not have been exposed to if not for you, Sherry. His art appears to be uncomplicated, but for those of us who do relief prints, we know different. I just might need to have his book, too. I also really appreciate your willingness to show your process step-by-step. It is a nice inspiration to get me out of whatever artful funk I'm in. Thanks, Alan

  5. I'm glad you guys are enjoying Ian's work... I had a nice note from him yesterday saying he's started a blog... I'll put it in the sidebar so we can see what he's up to.