Archive for printmaking

Why Block Prints?

Posted in Art, Block Prints, Process, Technique with tags , , , , on April 29, 2009 by scratchyb

I was buying some envelopes for the afore-mentioned  Soar card at the Paper Source, and the woman at the counter asked about the card.  When I  said it was a linocut,  she said she tried that herself, but never could “get it.”  It is hard to get, in some ways.  Really, when you can create the whole style of a woodcut or linocut digitally, without the sloppiness and randomness of hand-printing, why go through the trouble of creating a design, then cutting the design (sometimes multiple versions, if you are doing multi-colored prints) and the aggravation of prints that don’t pull quite as well as you’d like?

For me, a lart part of the appeal is the process.  I work in IT, so I don’t relish the idea of coming home to spend more time on the computer.   I like working analog, with physical objects.  The tackiness of the ink when it’s rolled out onto the block, moving the barren over the paper, the unpredictability of the outcome.  The low-tech approach of hand-made prints is relaxing in its own way.  The level of planning and flexibility that’s required helps keep the focus, because while I can adjust to or correct mistakes, I can’t completely undo them in the real world.

Given the boom of the craft and handmade movement, it seems like I’m not alone in this.  The thing is, I appreciate digital work as well.  But I’ve never been an “out with the old” type, I just add more tools and skills to the pile.  That’s another part of the appeal for me, and I suspect for others, in learning old technologies and processes.  It’s a rejection of the mentality that everything new necessarily has to replace something else.  That’s an idea that I think has cut us off from a lot of great works, especially once some authority declares a movement or a medium dead when it hasn’t even been fully explored.  Ultimately, we all need a chance to slow down and enjoy the work we and others do for its own sake, and stop worrying about being cutting edge.

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Books about Printmaking

Posted in animals, Art, Block Prints, Process, Technique with tags , , , on March 30, 2009 by scratchyb

I’m a sucker for books about printmaking, even though, realistically, I’ve only been practicing a very basic form of hand-pulled relief prints.  So naturally, I have to recommend The Printmaking Bible, by Ann d’Arcy Hughes and Hebe Vernon-Morris.  Yes, it’s got a hefty cover price, but it’s worth taking a look at if you can find it at your local library, or if you have the means to buy.  I love reading about the process of all types of printing, from lithography to intaglio and relief printing, and I love seeing the results.  This gives you both, and from a contemporary fine-art point of view rather than a “look at the pretty curtains I printed” crafty attitude that’s all too common with how-to books and web postings.  Now if only someone would write a book for self-imposed outside artists, I’m golden.  The one problem with flipping through The Printmaking Bible was that I wanted to take printmaking classes that I don’t have time for and buy equipment that I can’t quite afford.

In case anyone’s been keeping track, I’m still only on number four of the mixed animal series.  That’s pretty far short of my original goal, but I’m sure as hell not counting.  I’ve got a few more definite, must-draw beasties, and then I think I’ll call it quits and look for a show to hitch these things to.  I can’t wait to get to my next idea, something more appropriate: 13 devils and 13 demons.