Friday, June 5, 2020

Linocut in Progress: Because I don't know about you, but I could use some beauty just now

Progress, while distracted, continues in the studio. I have been hesitant to write about creative struggles when there is so much destruction going on in the world. How did we human beings get ourselves to this point? And how do we get ourselves out? So many burdens, so many problems to solve! Climate change, global pandemic, racism, violence. Isolation, fear, anger. Murder.

Like a lot of us, I have found myself swinging between cautious optimism and overwhelming despair. Between no sleep at all and a struggle to get out of bed.

I have had little enthusiasm for image-making (or much of anything else) lately, but I am thankful that printmaking is such a process. Once a critical decision is made (carve this area, mix that color ink), there are long periods of more or less mindless repetition when one is actually printing. Roll ink, register the block, print. Roll ink, register the block, print. What focus I can muster is dedicated to craft, as I strive to be as consistent and precise as possible.

And beautiful. More than ever, it feels necessary to create something beautiful. The blue columbine is a lovely wildflower, although there is a tragic and violent connection to this bloom, also. Twenty years ago, a horrific shooting took place at a high school named for this, the Colorado state flower. 

Reduction linocut, Step 4 printed

Probably somewhere in my last post I made the mad assertion that this linocut would be a simple one. I should really stop saying such things, so that we can all be surprised when it finally does happen. 'Cause it ain't gonna happen this time. Again.

Step 5 printed

Luckily I didn't have to make choices about color for these stages, only value. I added a little bit of blue to darken the lavender, but that was all.

Step 6 printed

It feels quite satisfactory at this point, very harmonious. But in the back of my mind I know that problems are brewing, because of course I need to add some greens now... and how is that going to work with such a dark lavender base in the background? I predict a few difficult stages ahead as I try to balance color and value and as I try to find the overall picture. I have no plan beyond this stage, really... I haven't considered what to do with the background or how to resolve a couple of elements that aren't visible at this stage.

All I know for sure is that I want the end product to reach for a balance of boldness and sensitivity, contrast and harmony. Which, I think, are important qualities to strive for outside the studio as well. Shall we give it a try?

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