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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Fresh Print: Doonagore Castle


I'm not sure why we are so fascinated by ruins. I mean, if you're so touched by the wonder of a once proud structure left to the whims of the elements, you'd be enthralled and captivated by our crumbling bungalow here in South Buffalo.

Alas, this castle, which stands strong near Doolin, Ireland, is not a ruin, having been purchased and rehabbed and made into a summer home for an American family, according to Wikipedia. I found the building by accident one day while researching something else. This round structure standing by the edge of the sea fed my dreams of going to the homeland (I'm about 1/10 Irish, but my liver is 90%). 

According to one source, the name of the castle means "fortress of the goats." Nothing against goats, but my wife prefers sheep, and so that's what we have. The studies for the sheep came from a small herd at Knox Farm Stet Park in East Aurora. I highly recomment stopping by before the state shuts it down.

The image is 6X4 inches, printed in seven colors from a single block of birch plywood. Edition of 6, printed in oil-based inks on cream-color cotton paper.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Boo!

I love this print, the concept of it. Campers safely snuggled away in their tent listening to someone telling a ghost story, complete with flashlight-under-the-chin special effects.

Meanwhile out in the dark, dark forest lurks a few disembodied spirits eager to hear the tale!

I love the dark background of gnarled trees -- done in blue-gray, blue black and, finally, black. The back rows of trees are a subtle contrast against the black, and give the close-up viewer a little bit of a surprise. The tent absolutely glows in the foreground and really brings a mood of camping fun and comfort -- evin amid the menacing surroundings. Six color reduction woodcut printed on cotton paper with oil-based inks from a single birch plywood block.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Back to the ol' Carving Board


Ah, so I took a little break, and now I'm back to "Ghost Story."

This is color number two, and I've very happy with it. I think it's going to be a good one (and NO MOON!)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Apres Le Deluge.....

Last summer we had a rainwater backup in our basement. It's not uncommon, and usually the water is kind enough to stay in one little corner of the basement. But for whatever reason, this time was different. I ran down to see water spouting out of the sewer, and I immediately dammed (and damned) the area around the drain. I then waited for it to recede, which it did not. I stood helpless as the flood inched beyond its previous recorded boundaries. It seeped under the steps, back along my wife's studio wall, claiming box after box of papers and pieces of glass. I rescued what I could, but it was moving too fast. It had the audacity to threaten my studio, even tiptoed over the threshold a bit. Then, the rains stopped, and the cleanup began.

I went through many boxes of files and papers which had quickly wicked up the soup. One of them held a large portion of my work from 2004-2006. No great loss, but it was still sad having to toss so many prints. A few days ago, I set to really cleaning up the basement, and started going through some salvaged files. I uncovered this gem. It's unfinished, and was a pretty ambitious project as I recall. I estimated that it would be about 17 colors. At that time I had just switched over to high-quality block-printing inks. I'm self taught, so everything was trial and error. The big error I made back then was that instead of printing a color and waiting for it to dry, I would print, then blot it with newsprint, then print again, up to four colors in a day. The result was that the fresh ink would not adhere to the previous layers. Boy, was I a silly printmaker.

So, this print, the working title of which was something like "We Regret To Inform You....," was, conceptually, a comment on the real cost of war: A woman answering the door to two military notifiers, The flag, and the blue star backlit by brilliant sunshine (trust me -- it would have been there) and in the foreground, a little girl, her eyes brimming with tears, pleading at the viewer, screaming in grief. Yup, woulda looked sweet in your dining room.

I actually thought I had lost all of the copies of it, and in my mind, I thought it had been a 6x4 print. It is 8x10, a size I experimented with for about a year. It was printed in the old days before I had a press, and I would ink the block and then burnish the back of the paper with a wooden spoon.

Oh, indeed, it could be a candidate for the hallowed walls of the Museum of Bad Art, and I may send them a copy. The mother at the door, though she's supposed to be covering her mouth in shock, may just as well be saluting the soldiers at the door. Her dress looks as if it was shredded by a cat. And can you say CANKLES? The flag is pretty awesome if I may say so myself, but that lamp is from the Picasso collection at Value City. The girl? Well, she's unfinished, but really, she looks more like Mrs. Gaines, my grandmother's old neighbor from the Elmwood District (she had a mustache you could comb, and she was so crazy crazy people would go "Whoa!"). Other than that, it's just lovely. Just wanted to share.