April 24, 2015

Pattern on Pattern

        Here are three bright variations that seem springlike to me, in the daffodil and hyacinth colors of my garden that make me so happy at this time of year.  These pieces are by Dan Rizzie (USA, b. 1951) and they are color woodcuts with chine collé.  Because I have not seen them in person, but only in reproduction on-line, I’m trying to figure out exactly how they were made.  The most obvious explanation is that Rizzie carved two blocks, one that was printed in color, and one for black.  For each color he printed on colored paper: pale blue paper under the blue ink, pale green under the green, etc.  But looking closely, most visible on the lower left of the blue version, there’s some evidence of an intermediate blue-grey color, too.  Is this a third block?  And another possibility is that the colored background patterns were on preprinted paper.  Chine collé is when a layer of paper is adhered between the background paper and the inked block.  (For more details, see my explanation here.)  Most often it’s plain colored paper, but there’s no reason it couldn’t be patterned paper.
        However Rizzie made these, I like the idea of layering pattern on pattern.  I like how sometimes the black shapes and lines echo or emphasize the shapes and lines in the background, and how sometimes they cut across and complement each other.  I like how the scale of the background is bigger and bolder than the scale of the black.  This is another idea that I might like to experiment with some time myself.  This could also be another possible idea for this summer’s printmaking classes I’ll be teaching.
        As for Rizzie’s three color variations, I think the texture is clearest on the blue and green, but even so I like the yellow best, because it’s so cheerful and bright.

[Pictures: Blackberry Thieves II (yellow), Blackberry Thieves I and III (green, blue), color woodcuts with chine collé by Dan Rizzie (Images from the Cleveland Museum of Art).]

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