Got to Helsinki late and tired and so looking forward to a hot shower and good nights sleep!
This image was taken about 10:30 from the elevator in my hotel.
One more flight to Oulu and then the fun begins!
Very excited- heading to northern Finland near the Arctic Circle for a print making class, Priint the Midnight Sun, taught by Shelley Thorstensen of Printmakers Open Forum in PA and Juha Laasko and Raija Korppila of Grafiikanpaja Aava in Finland.
Reasons I’m excited: 1. I always wanted to take a workshop with Shelley, 2. I’ve never been to Finland or this far north and 3. It will be over the Summer Solstice and it will be daylight for 24 hrs. (May have to sleep all day in order to see it…)
However, they are having an unusual cool spell and the highs will be in the 50’s and 40’s at night. Hard to pack for that when it’s in the 80’s and 90’s here.
Attended a reunion at Moore College of Art and Design yesterday and took a Relief Printing workshop with Katie VanVliet, founder of BYO Print. Pretty crowded with 16 students in a space with three presses but Katie and her assistants did a wonderful job. They had a number of relief objects to work with—various dimensional textures, old advertising letterpress blocks, letter stamps, etc. We could use any of the presses or print by hand with Japanese Barens. I experimented with both.
The first is a study done on the press above. I taped small bits of wood together and inked them with mixed colors. As the presses were in demand, I did my second design by hand starting with a letterpress block showing a print workshop. Other letterpress blocks, bubble wrap textures, and letter stamps added to the happy chaos I felt in the workshop. I like the contrast between the first more orderly and the second more energetic designs.
Tomorrow is the last day of my painting class. I have signed up for the second session as I think the studying by copying existing work is helping me a great deal. I really don’t want to be doing that and having someone expect it of me and be there to crit my progress is important. I’m looking forward to warmer weather and going outside on my own… we’ll see.
The painting and the printmaking complement each other—my painting currently is more representive and the printmaking more abstract.
It’s been a week since my last post. There was no class last week and that worked out as I had planned to go to Maine with the Garden Gals and visit the Main Botanical Gardens at that time. That’s a post for another day, but needless to say I didn’t get any print making done while I was there. I did pick up my work from Thurs before I left and here are two scans: one of one printed by hand at home and one on press at school. Still a bit rough but improving.
When I got home from Maine I reworked my design to include the whole image, scanned it and placed it into Illustrator where I redrew it to get clean lines and to delineate where I was to cut and not. I was able to transfer it to my larger block and begin cutting.
Didn’t get it cut in time for class but I went anyway to show where I was and to get some feedback. This was my last class. I will finish it and try printing it by hand but now I am at a point where I want to drop back and hone my skills (I do like the design). I purchased some better paper on the way home and have down loaded David Bull‘s e-book on Japanese woodblock printing, Your First Print. So, the adventure continues!
Thurs. I printed my new test block. At home I hand printed it using a single brown I mixed and then in class I printed it on the press to see the difference. In class I also experimented with different colors on the same block. Half was a warm light green mixed with a bit of copper and the other half was a darker cool green. On some of the prints I tried making different areas of the block different colors.
Later in class we had a review of our work at this stage. Work was spread out on the table, artist statements were read and progress was discussed. Now we have a week off and then two more sessions of class. One will have a speaker plus some work time and then the final critique.
Knives and chisels mean sharpening and here we have another learning curve! My dad always sharpened everyone’s knives in my family. He enjoyed this and as he would visit family on my parents yearly trips from their retirement in Florida he carried sharpening stones etc and people from Maine to VA waited for him to sharpen their knives. So, I never learned to sharpen knives let alone rounded and V shaped chisels. Again, out of the basement came an assortment of sharpening stones inc. a Japanese King Combination Water Stone which I have set aside until I master the western stones.
My current favorite tool is a wonderful leather mallet. As I have been testing my mark making with wood blocks I have used my knife and chisels alone. Two days ago I got to the stage where I was trying to carve out larger areas (large is relative as I am working on blocks about 5.5 x 6.5 inches).
After a few hours of very slow going I realized that my neck muscles were speaking to me and this was not working. So I spent a day doing stretching exercises and yoga for my neck and back and working on other projects.
Then the other day I was carving and picked up the mallet. All of a sudden the instructions I’ve read on how to hold these tools etc made sense and the work was much faster, and finer. I have much more control and while I have lots of practice ahead, I can see that this can work. Bob says with all the tap, tap, tapping I sound like Geppetto!