March 20, 2015

Abstract Color 3 Ways

        Time for a punch of color.  Here are three relief block prints with an emphasis on color.  The first is done with the Provincetown white line technique which I keep intending to do a whole post on someday.  I haven’t done so yet because I keep thinking I’ll try it myself first.  I’ll get there eventually I’m sure, but for now, here’s a bright and wild piece by Judith Rothschild (USA 1921-1993).
        The second piece isn’t nearly so bright, and in fact it seems to have been inked only with two shades of grey and one gradient of blue.  The brighter, more varied colors are painted into the spaces 
with watercolor.  I suppose it isn’t wholly abstract as it’s representing a flower, but it certainly looks to me as if the artist, Steven Ford (USA b. 1964) was far more concerned with shapes and colors and design than any actual real-life botany.
        And finally a piece that looks like it was made with the kindergarten potato printing or rubber stamp technique.  That is, there are 8 individually carved smaller blocks (wood, not potato!) that are inked and printed separately on the same piece.  At a guess I’d say black, green and purple were first, overlaid with blue and red, then the left yellow, then orange, then the right yellow.  Presumably the artist Mitsuaki Sora (Japan b. 1933) could have made any number of variations using the same component blocks, but I don’t know 
whether he did.  He certainly made lots of similar stuff, but I can’t quite decide whether the individual pieces are being reused.
        In fact, one characteristic of white line woodcuts is that they were often inked in several different color versions, and presumably any artwork that’s hand painted will have variations in the edition, too.  So all these pieces could have a lot of variability within their edition, and this seems good to me.  I figure if you’re going to go for abstract anyway, you may as well play with it and try something new and different for every single piece.

[Pictures: Untitled (Composition), woodcut by Judith Rothschild, c. 1955;
Cleveland Flower, color linocut with watercolor by Steven Ford, 2009;
Untitled, woodcut by Mitsuaki Sora, 1970 (All images from The Cleveland Museum of Art).]

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