slightly wonky

Woodblock finale and a bunch of other thoughts

Before I start rambling on about woodblock printing…I bought my son some big containers of tempera paint, and a long roll of paper this past week.  This is one of those purchases that is mostly for my son, but partly for me too.  I love the idea of splotching big blobs of paint on a huge paper.  Here is part of our creation:

I think that he had a good time with it.  He seems to like to just mix colors together to make “outer space”.  He’s not so concerned about making marks.  He also found large stones and a brick, which he brought over to paint.  So, even when you think you can imagine how a play activity is going to go…kids always surprise you.  It just might be that my son is not as into making art as I am.  Or maybe he is…but in less obvious ways.  Either way, it was messy and fun.

So, last night I had my last woodblock printing class!  It was such a fun class.  I love the bold, graphic quality of woodblocks.  Yes, some people can do subtle things with woodblock…but not me!  Here is my last block in process:

I realized, while carving this block, that I’m not such a fan of carving.  My teacher mentioned that she often listens to books on tape while she carves.  Good idea!!!  That might help.  Also, I think that the pressure of having to design and carve a block on a schedule makes it a little stressful and less fun for me.  I mean, I like to have a new block for each class.  But if I wasn’t constrained by my weekly class, perhaps carving would be more meditative, and less like a chore.  I’m wondering if I’m not destined to be a relief printer, because I don’t LOVE to carve.  Hmmm.  BUT…I do like how woodblock prints turn out…so this is a bit of a conundrum for me.

Here are the prints from yesterday:

I was somewhat happy with this print.  It may need something dark in it.  I’m not sure.  Once again, I decided to just leave it and think about it more before doing anything else.  Here is a detail:

I love those colors together, and I’m happy with my new block.  The new block is the red part of the image.  Here is the second print:

A bit simple, but nice.  The orange looks more yellowish in reality.  Detail:

It’s always an exercise in restraint for me to not add MORE.  Here is just a print of the block that I made last week:

This took A LOT of restraint for me not to add more “stuff”.  Sorry about the odd lighting in the photos.  It’s the morning, and I don’t have great light to take pictures with.  Here is the detail:

Brace yourself…there’s more!

I couldn’t leave that one alone, obviously…

I like this next one a lot:

It’s hard to tell, but the dark ink is a sort of plum color.  Very cool.  Detail:

The last one:


What do you think?  I’m happy with how this latest block came out.  It seems that no matter how many blocks one has…you need more!  That puts me back in the condundrum of carving…

So, I had a free hour yesterday, so I did a little gouache still life.  Now, bear with me…I don’t paint often.  BUT, I really enjoyed it.  So here is my bigger dilemma:  I love the way woodblock prints look…but I am not keen on carving.  I am not fond of my painting (see below)…but I enjoyed doing it!  So odd.  I’m not sure what to make of that.  I think that typially, people like to do what they are good at.  But in this case, I enjoyed doing what I wasn’t good at.  Very strange.  Here is the still life:

Yes, I know.  It needs help.  I am happy with how the silver rattle turned out…the other parts are so-so.  I think that if I had a nicer brush (one that didn’t have a fat, multipointed/ragged end), then I might have been able to do a bit more.  I know…excuses, excuses!

Woodblock printing = process:not fun / product:interesting

Gouache painting = process:fun / product:not interesting

What a dilemma! Does anyone out there have thoughts on this???

I’ve been reminded by a friend that I never followed up with comments on the Chihuly show at the MFA.  WELL…his work is pretty over the top and remarkable.  He’s definitely not of the “less is more” school of thought.  The pieces were really stunning.  I didn’t really like when they are all put together in a big, jumbled mass…like in his piece, Mille fiori.  It gets too chaotic for me, and the beauty in each piece gets lost to me.  It’s like a symphony where every musician is playing a difference piece.  Cacophony.  The individual pieces, however, are stunning.  The chandeliers that everyone knows well are really stunning.  He tends to use a single color for these, so while they are a bit chaotic looking, they have a unity that does not turn into cacophony, in my opinion.  My favorite part of the exhibit was the room with beautiful woven baskets, bright handmade blankets, and an enormous slab of wood.  The pieces in this room were subtle, delicate, and amazing.   I preferred these pieces over all of the others.  He had large, hollow glass blobs, almost like bubbles bursting, on that huge slab of wood.  They looked gorgeous.  So, I did like the Chihuly exhibit, and I think that his work is extraordinary.  I do feel that it can be a chaotic mess at times, and I prefer when it’s more subtle or unified in presentation.  Has anyone else seen it?  Thoughts?


9 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Thanks for sharing and thanks for the inspiration I enjoyed your work.

Comment by mazemangriot

Thanks so much! I really appreciate your kind words. Thanks for taking a look…

Comment by slightlywonky

Great lines, great colours.

Comment by texelconstructions

Thank you! That’s very kind of you. I appreciate it!

Comment by slightlywonky

Your prints are bold and have a great sense of design. I’m drawn to the- less is more – single colored print, but that’s just me BTW, I listen to old time radio shows while I carve. Here’s a link:

Comment by sminzy

Thanks so much! I really appreciate it. I took a look at your stuff too! Very impressive. Are all of your prints from linoleum? Do you print by hand or with a press? You have an amazing way of describing volume and texture in your work. Thanks for commenting!

Comment by slightlywonky

wow, this is like three blog posts in one (so more is less!) I love ht you and e-nut “created” together. It used to drive me bonkers to watch our daughter mix all colors into black (and still black is one of her favorite colors) but I think it’s an intensity thing (more or less).

I love your wood blocks, I especially loved the teal, Asian character one before you overlayed it. And the first(orange, red and chartreuse one made me want carrots and a salad (I totally love that one). Interesting that you don’t love the process but do the product. I have always loved your sketches and paintings. They do seem more therapeutic. Could you paint in a print like fashion? Or maybe use your current woodblocks and enhance them with painted or sketched in objects?

I loved Chihuly enough to see it twice. I liked Mille Fiori but my favorite, both for title and appearance, was Ikebana Boat, the old barque overflowing with wild, Chihuly creations. I also liked his Neodymium Reeds in Logs. I found the color quite pleasing. I also loved the Persian Ceiling (did you notice all the rubenesque cherubs hiding in there?).

Comment by growingmuses

Thanks so much for your thoughts! Yes…maybe if I worked with colored inks, then I wouldn’t have to use a woodblock to get the effect that I want! Perhaps, in that way, I’m not really using woodblocks “properly”, as I could really just do them as paintings.

It doesn’t shock me that you loved the exhuberance of Chihuly…as you are probably the most exhuberant person that I know! You’re such a good influence on me!!!

Comment by slightlywonky

and if I had the money, I’d be your biggest benefactor/collector :o) (look at all those Warm Fuzzies bouncing around the room)

Comment by growingmuses

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