Direction III

Last week’s woodblock print, Direction III:

Direction III Woodblock Print

Direction III, Woodblock Print, 8"x6" image on 10"x10" Rives BFK

The alternate title for this print is “Who is that handsome men?”

Another in the Direction series of prints, which are all black and white, 6″x8″ prints. The direction series is about finding direction, or needing direction, or having conflicting direction, or something along those lines.

Honestly, a lot of time I don’t really know what the images I make are really about. Not exactly, at least. I have some feeling or notion that I can’t quite put into words, and so it ends up as an image.

I’ve been thinking about this notion of “direction”. I should have direction, I want to have direction. It doesn’t seem to always work out. This image is about wanting to move in a certain direction, the notion that things seem to halt moving in that direction, and that sometimes those things that put the breaks on a direction are external, and sometimes they come from myself.

got to self portraiting, not out of vanity, but because I was the only person here to use as a model for this one. Self portraits out of necessity.

A few technical notes

I was happy with the style in this print, I like how I was able to transfer illustration to the woodblock in a way that felt like I was still using my illustration style, and also using the nature of the woodblock.

When I draw, I usually use pencil, and end up with a softer line, and sometimes thin lines. That doesn’t transfer to woodblock, there are no soft lines, just the edge between the portion of the block that was carved, and the portion of the block that was not. This is a sharp line no matter how you carve it.

Also, the grain of the wood does not support a very thin line. The actual structural support of the wood I use breaks down with very thin lines, and when the line becomes thin enough, there isn’t enough wood left to keep the top layer of wood that accepts the ink in place.

I like how I was able to balance some line work with the needs of the wood to have a thicker line in this print. I may try to do some more like this.

A few production notes

This block took about 10 hours to carve, though this time may have gone quicker if I wasn’t having a bit of a James Bond marathon as I was carving this one. Carving the blocks is the least fun, most grueling part of this process, I usually have some sort of media going when I carve to entertain myself. I just got the last Ultimate Edition box set of James Bond movies, and decided it was the perfect time to work my way through them.

I was cleaning my apartment last weekend and found a stash of Rives BFK paper that I didn’t know I had. Rives is a heavyweight, bright white, cotton rag paper. It is really suited for lithography and etching, but I decided to use it for this print anyway.

After I tore the paper into the correct size, I put half of it in a damp pack (a stack of paper with dampened newsprint in between the sheets that is put under pressure to evenly dampen the paper). The dampened paper printed better, of course, as it usually does.

Ultimately, however, I think I need a press if I am going to keep this up. Right now I am printing by rubbing the back of the paper against the block with a large flat wooden spoon. It takes a lot of effort, and I still don’t get the ink transfer I want. I think a press would help with that, and speed up the printing process immensely.

For this week, I’ll be whipping out another of these “Direction Series” prints, don’t quite know what it will be yet. I need some time to sit down with my sketch pad and think it through.

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