October 24, 2014

What's New in the Studio

        Last weekend was an Open Studios show, and that means carving.  I got one block carved and another almost finished over the weekend, and I finished them both on Monday and printed on Wednesday.  So here’s the first.
        This is the Portland Head Light from just outside Portland, Maine.  The design comes from a photograph I took this summer, and I used an interesting technique for the rocks.  The problem, oddly, is that they were too random, too jumbled, for me to have a good sense of what lines to draw to get at the essence of them.  On the one hand, it would be fine if I didn’t make them exactly like real life, because who’s going to notice a couple of random rocks along the shore?  But on the other hand, it’s pretty clear what I need to draw to make a lighthouse look like a lighthouse, but with the rocks I felt like I didn’t really know where to begin.  So I opened the summer’s photograph in photoshop, put a semi-transparent layer over it, and used my drawing tablet and stylus to “scribble” over the rocks, just filling in all the darker areas and ignoring all the lighter areas.  I then printed that black and white image and used it as the basis for my pencil sketch to be transferred to the rubber and carved.  As I carved I wasn’t looking for patterns or trying to resolve the shapes into individual masses of rocks; I just carved the black and white in front of me.
  It definitely looks a bit different from what I would have come up without that guide.  It’s much squigglier and less outliney than I would have done in a straight sketch.  I’m not sure whether it’s better or worse - in some places it looks a bit seaweedy, and in fact there was no seaweed anywhere in the scene!  But it was an interesting technique to try, and on the whole I’m fairly well pleased with this one.

[Picture: Portland Head Light, rubber block print by AEGN, 2014.]

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