Friday, February 19, 2010

12:01 At The Oasis: Win This Print!

Some years ago, when I was working as a screenprinter in a greeting card factory, I became fascinated by the play of the overhead fluorescent lights in the cups of ink on my press table. And thanks to my overindulgence on "Harold and the Purple Crayon" books, among other things, I became fascinated by the moon. Add being drawn to Henri Rousseau's famous "The Sleeping Gypsy" (left) and the eerie album art of my brother's Blue Oyster Cult "Agents of Fortune" LP, it was only inevitable (in my mind only, I imagine) that they would all come together to form the print I am introducing to you now.

This untitled (as yet) woodcut began its life as a light yellow rectangle. You will notice a little dot in one corner. Not only is that there to tell me the position of the block on the press, but it also helped to remind me which print this was for, as I was printing a different, non-descript block the same night with the same ink for a different print.

The next state was a very light orange-gray, specifically, a PMS Warm Gray 5 approximation. I love the warm grays, and used them for liberally in the previous ocean storm print. You will notice that I had cut out the crescent moon and a few stars.

You might say, "Dude, that's not Warm gray anything. That's BLUE!" Good sleuthing, Sherlock. Indeed. I had forgotten to print a proof of this state at the time, and had to print this proof out the next day. So then, because you're like that, you might say, "But dude! Aren't you supposed to print a proof BEFORE you print the edition. That's when I take you aside and slip you a fin and ask you kindly-yet-threateningly to shut your yap, saying that when I print, I prefer to play the game called "Proof or Dare."

Next up, having cut out the highlights of the dunes (or mountains, if you prefer...but they're dunes) to reveal the Warm gray #5, I printed state 3 in a very dark version of Warm Gray 11.

There is also a shoreline highlight at the water's edge, a technique I learned from watching Bob "Happy Little Trees" Ross on PBS. Hey, when you can't afford art school, you take your knowledge anywhere it comes from. Thanks, Bob.

The fourth state was a scary one for me. When you are doing a night sky, it's really hard to judge how light or dark to go. I used a straight medium blue ink for this state originally. But the ink was very transparent, and the darker color underneath caused the ink to go almost black. I hemmed and hawed over that for a few minutes, then decided it wasn't right. I added just a touch of white, which not only lightens a color but makes it more opaque, and this was the result. This is about the point I get very nervous about a print, because it just looks weird. Reduction printing, like life, requires a lot of blind faith that everything is going to work out just fine. 

The last block usually ties everything together. In multiple block printing, it's called the key block, and is usually black ink. In reduction printing it is called -- at least by me -- the if-I-make-a-mistake-on-this-I'm-going-to-cry-like-a-colicky-infant block. I've lost my share of prints like this. But, losing in the last minutes of the game is old hat for us Buffalonians. Am I right people?! Heeya!

But seriously, folks, this block was a very scary one to cut. I studies the lay of the fronds of palms at the Botanical Gardens, and from photos, and developed a technique of cutting the fronds that made me very, very satisfied with this print. I was also a little nervous about how the water was going to look.

And when it was all over, this is what I had:

Now, here's where you can WIN THIS PRINT!

With all apologies to Maria Muldaur, there is no way in hell I'm calling this "Midnight at the Oasis." Even though the song was stuck in my head the whole time I was printing it. So, I'm leaving it up to you. Think up a title and either post it in the comments section below this post, or email me at My lovely wife, Amy, will choose her favorite of the entries. The winner will receive one of this edition of six. That's a $20 value. Ssssssweet!

Contest closes at 3:30 PM March 1, 2010. Winner will be announced March 2. Not very creative? Then just go ahead to my store (click the press at the top of the page).

Thanks for reading!


Debra James Percival said...

Wonderful post! I thought of "Postcard to Paradise" or maybe "Dreamy Night".
Lovely Print!

Daniel L. Dew said...

Guitar Hero Anyone?

Sharri said...

Lovely print and interesting commentary! I now have Moon Over Miami stuck in my head, but offer Starry, Starry Night instead. As you can see, coming up with titles is not really my forte.

JennifersCabin said...

How about Silent Night? It is such a lovely calm and still moment that has been caught

Anonymous said...

After the Tsunami...