May 7, 2022


         Today is Print Day in May, when printmakers around the world celebrate and share the joy of printmaking.  It’s always the first Saturday in May, which means that most years I spend it at Needham Open Studios, which is certainly appropriate, but it means I never get a chance to do any actual social media stuff for it.  This year, however, NOS is next weekend, so I am doing a blog post today instead of Monday, in order to observe this international holiday.
        So, what printmaking am I up to today?  Well, actually, not as much printing and more preparing - see Needham Open Studios, above.  Next weekend I will be carving blocks from pretty much 11:00-4:00 on both Saturday and Sunday, so I need to have a lot of carving to work on.  That means I’m saving up all my blocks for carving next weekend and don’t want to use up any work this weekend!  However, I am preparing those blocks.  I have three things in progress.
        1.  This is a block I have been carving, shown along with the sketch, and a progress test print.  I actually very seldom do progress tests until I’m basically done and have nothing left but a little tweaking.  This is because I really enjoy the surprise of seeing how the whole thing comes out, all at once.  But I was a little dubious about this particular piece, feeling very unsure how it would read, and whether the main focus (a minor building at Chichen Itza, based on a photograph I took back in 2004) would emerge from its very busy surroundings.  You can see in the sketch that I scanned it and then filled in some areas in grey just to give myself a sense of where the whites and blacks would be dominant, something else I seldom need to do.  So anyway, I did print the unfinished block to see how it was going, and I must say I’m very pleasantly surprised - and all excited to get back to work carving the rest of it next weekend.
        2. I finished another design and transferred it to rubber, ready to carve.  This one is going to be ambitious because each of the different mountain areas needs to have a different texture for a different value of dark and light.  It’s also on Speedball brand rubber #SpeedbalPD2022 (whereas the first piece is Dick Blick brand rubber #blickPD2022).  The difference between the two brands is primarily that the Speedball is more crumbly and the Dick Blick is more rubbery.  I thought the friable Speedball consistency might make some of those textures easier to carve - but I’ll have to be careful, since I’m more used to the Dick Blick consistency.
        3.  The next design is not yet transferred to rubber.  It will probably end up being carved at Newton Open Studios, which is the very next weekend after Needham Open Studios, May 21-22.  (Both these designs are illustrations for a fairy tale retelling by a friend of mine.)
        I’ll be posting a number of pieces on Instagram today, as well, as part of the Print Day in May festivities.  So get out your carving tools and brayers, and get printing!

[Pictures: Photos of pieces in progress, AEGN, 2022]


Pax said...

Fascinating to get a glimpse inside the creative printmaking process. Thanks for showing us. I think all three are quite good, each one different. Will the fairy tales be published and available eventually?

Anne E.G. Nydam said...

The fairy tale project is a labor of love and there is no set timeline. The author (Cari Lyn Jones) may bring out the stories individually as they're completed, and/or may eventually put together a collection. I will certainly let people know if/when they can be read!