Thursday, April 26, 2007

Illustration Friday - "Polar"

For Illustration Friday's theme "Polar," I chose to draw the South Pole sinking of the "Endurance" which did not, in fact, endure the polar ice in its 1915 Antarctic expedition. The dogs made it out, though.

Pen & ink, with gray gouache, 5x8"

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Benedicamina Illumination

Say what? "Benedicamina Illumination" is the title of this pen and ink (and gold leaf) painting/drawing. "Benedicamina" because that's written on the scroll held by the angel at the top, which is loosely translated from Psalms 103 as Bless God Always. I had to find verse that might have been used in ancient times and would fit in that little space. "Illumination" because I drew it in the form of an ancient illuminated manuscript.

I LOVE illustrated manuscript art, the more complex and colorful and full of line-work, the better. A Book of Hours is a treasure I could spend days or weeks studying, but I doubt I'll never be allowed to peruse an authentic one, though occasionally someone will sell a single page on eBay. I've also seen them exhibited at the Getty Art Center here in Los Angeles. Then there's the Book of Kells ornately decorated by monks in Dublin, Ireland, famous for its extraordinary beauty and detail.

For two or three years, I've wanted to try making one myself. I didn't feel capable of actually writing a page from a manuscript and illuminating (decorating) it, so I just went with the decoration part, and just wrote a one-liner from Psalms 103. It took six full days! I tried to be authentic as far as using colors that existed at the time and gold leaf, but I couldn't see using real vellum (from calf skin) for so many reasons.

Ponte Vecchio, Firenze: Drypoint

Thank you BDP (yeah, you eBay printmakers know her if you think about it!) for letting me use your photograph of Florence, Italy's Ponte Vecchio for this drypoint, which I watercolored (ironically). What is a drypoint? Why am I asking you? ha ha I beveled the edges of a 6" x 8" sheet of Lexan and etched or scratched, really, the lines of this image into it with pointed tools. Then I inked the plate (yuck, a laborious and dirty process) and printed it using an etching press. I liked the print at that stage (all lines), but it looks better with watercolor.

But alas, this plate is losing its burrs and I can't get much more out of it. While Lexan and acrylics are easier to etch than traditional copper and zinc, they don't hold their burrs as well under the pressure of the etching press. The burrs are the line edges that actually print; when they're gone, the lines may print but the character of the print is gone.

P.S. OK you world travelers, what's wrong with this image? Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know, you smartypantses. If you know the answer, go ahead, make your comment below. A gold star for everyone that gets it right. But don't play if you can't be nice. I'm sensitive.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Pieces of Prints in April

I've got pieces of April
I keep them in a memory bouquet

- Best of Three Dog Night

I've got pieces of prints in a memory collage. Recently I decided to make handmade paper to print on. My printmaking professor (I'm calling him "Professor" in exchange for a good grade) had saved up lots of prints gone bad, which he had torn into tiny pieces, ready for papermaking. He let me take what I needed for my project. Some of the little printed pieces looked like little prints in themselves. So I culled some out and made this collage from them. I'm taking it to class tomorow to see if anyone recognizes any of the pieces.

And above is a woodcut I printed on beautiful Italian paper. There's so much groovy paper out there; it's hard to simply make a plain old black and white print.
Coming up next: a groovy black and white print or two.