Friday, January 2, 2009

Being Shod - lessons in printmaking

The original photo for this print was taken by my grandfather. Mom has a number of wonderful old photos taken by her dad, as well as her mum's dad, and I'm hoping to translate some of them into prints. This photo was of a horse being shod in a logging camp. The background was pretty over-exposed, so I wasn't really able to get much good detail. So I didn't know what to do when I first started off; you'll see the background in the sketch is pretty vague.

Lesson #1 - decide on a background before you start carving. Because I hadn't decided on a background, I figured the first colour would make up the background by itself:

As a result, I changed my mind about the values in the drawing as I was working on the second layer. Then I decided on the background: I'd make it into the interior of a barn.

Lesson #2 - don't change your mind about values in the middle of carving.

As a result of changing the mind about the values, you'll see that the lightest value falling in front of the back leg of the horse is really high contrast, and not a great value choice. Also, by changing my mind about the background in mid-carving mode, I've got a "halo" around the subject matter, which really is a beginner relief printer's mistake. The background should define the foreground, and vice versa, without having to outline everything.

Lesson #3: Sometimes you can fake it to fix mistakes. I took a little bit of the first colour and dabbed with my fingertip over the light part that bothered me. Then printed the third and final layer on top:

The end result is much improved; you can't tell that I made the fix, and it makes the image read so much better. Once again, I am happy with this print; I seem to be on a roll this week! Good thing, because I'm going to be away from the studio (and press!) for the better part of January. I was trying to cram in as much as I could manage this week.

Once again, this print was carved in MDF with a Dremel, printed using Daniel Smith w/s relief inks on cream Rising Stonehenge paper. I think the dimensions are about 9"x7", and I managed a final edition of 6.


Justin Miller said...

This print is wonderful. I love that story of the inspiring photograph.

Unknown said...

Thanks Justin! I like having history to a piece, too.

Eraethil said...

Love this composition. Too bad about the halo effect, but it doesn't look distracting to me. Couldn't it be seen as a compositional choice in this print? Thanks for telling about the trials of the work too!

Unknown said...

Thanks R - yes, of course it could; it's just not my original intention. I actually don't think it really detracts from the piece at all, but I wanted to share my thoughts about the progress, and that was one of the things that bugged me, at the time of printing. Now, I don't think it's that big a deal.

Thanks for having a look & letting me know your thoughts!