Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Until you've had enough, you haven't had enough

I suspect most of us have been, at one time or another, in relationships that should have ended a very long time before they actually did. We want them to work out. We exaggerate the good aspects, turn a blind eye to all the "little things" and slog forward despite evidence of impending doom. We've made promises, dammit, and we're going to keep them.

So despite mounting troubles with disintegrating paper, clumping inks, outrageous dry times, and physically punishing hours with baren and spoon I naturally kept working on a print that probably should have been scrapped at color #2, not #13. You know how it is: you keep hoping that the next action will be the one to sort out all the problems and salvage the relationship.

But even the most starry-eyed romantic must eventually abandon a love affair that's good for no one. As a wise friend once said, "When you've had enough, you've had enough. But until you've had enough, you haven't had enough." 

Here's where the piece was two weeks ago, when apparently I still hadn't had enough:

I liked the dark blue color in the piece on the left, but it didn't define the still-nebulous shapes as I had hoped it would. One more carving and printing would be required. I lightened the blue for the piece on the right. The result seemed too intense, but I intended for most of it to be covered up by the last color, so I was hopeful that it would "tone down." (Read: I had reached the grasping-at-straws stage.)

You can't tell in this photo, but the biggest problem was that all prints had reached what another printmaking friend calls the "Naugahyde" stage: The inks were bumpy and shiny and uneven and just ugly. (Not to mention full of paper fibers.) I don't mind a little of that sort of thing here and there, but over the entire piece? Not attractive. And putting the last color down didn't help things at all... in the end I had a clunky, non-cohesive image with really bad ink coverage. My frog was not a prince. It wasn't even a frog. It was a zombie mutant slime mold. (With apologies to all lovers of slime mold. I know you're out there.)


In the few places where the final dark adhered... not so bad, but those places were very few.
Like many relationships-gone-bad, there are a few things about this image that I still like (mostly on the right side)... so who knows? You may see portions of this torn down and used for something else, but for now it's a candidate for the ritual Burning of Bad Art. (Yes, there is such a thing. At a friend's studio on the solstice.)

Denial overcome, it's time to move on. The good news is that I'm already learning some interesting things from the new papers this debacle forced me to try. In fact, there's one that's starting to look particularly handsome... Queue the violins and tune in next time. This could be the start of something wonderful.


  1. Naughahyde...I like it!Well, in inks, not so much.

  2. I want one of these prints to remind me to break up with a bad print early on. Also 'cuz it's lovely.

  3. Ahh, but once the lesson is learned, "jamais encore!"

    You spot linty papers from across the street. A brittle smile in the art store is the only recognition of what once was..... Sherrie Y, noir printmaker.

  4. Been there, done that but loooove it when someone reminds me, oh so articulately, that others do it too!

  5. Hope you enjoy the solstice bonfire! That's a great idea. Happy holidays to you, Sherrie.

  6. Here here to Annie B's comment! I am going to call and see if it is a burning day(permissible to burn outside) :) Happy New Year!

  7. :-) We missed the group Bad Art Burning tonight, but I suspect we'll find some other ways to "celebrate" the demise of doomed affairs soon.

    Print noir. Oh, Patrick... I love it. May I please have some suitable smoky jazz accompaniment?

    Happy solstice, everyone!