Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Something Old, Something New
***Spoiler Alert--for letterboxers planning on visiting "Voyageur" letterbox, north of Sault Ste. Marie. Last image is a 5x7 version of my Voyageur stamp done as a linocut, the wolf is not a letterbox***
Yipes, more than a week has gone by without a blogpost. I hate to squeeze one in just for the heck of it but I've been busy, mostly fighting (as usual, we and it don't get along) with watercolours. I'm still trying to master the wet-in-wash, probably a lifetime battle if I refuse to give up, so I decided to take a break and finish a project I've had in my minds eye for quite some time.
My Voyageur stamp (2.5x3.5) is one of my favourite letterbox images, but I love it so much I was loath to attempt to repeat the performance in larger format. The lure of trying it out as a lovely t-shirt, just in time for my next visit north of the Sault, finally forced my hand. Because I don't get much satisfaction from copying old work, I decided to work on a brand new design at the same time.
For the Voyageur, I used my scanner to enlarge the design as I was definitely thrilled with the ACEO-sized version. The real challenge was to maintain the life of the quick cut original while adding detail appropriate for the enlarged format. I confess, I really took my time on this one as I was afraid to screw things up.
As for the wolf, this one began with a rough sketch, then a clean sketch & transfer onto what I thought was softoleum from my storage box, but turned out to be softer stuff (argh...can't wait to finish this batch off). It didn't have good feel, and my nib needs replacing so some of the pleasures of carving were thus diminished. Luckilly I pulled a proof long before I carved back to the pencilled detailed I'd planned. It's good to be vague and let the viewer fill in the blanks, and to let the rhythms of the cuts set the mood.
While I've always been a little leery of doing animal art of creatures that I've never seen, last years holiday produced two wolf sightings, the first wild wolves I've ever seen. The first was on HWY 17 in Lake Superior Provincial Park. It was a skinny scrappy brown wolf that looked lost and starved. Sadly, I do not believe this was a well wolf. Later, we were treated to the lovely rear view of a healthy running wolf that for a short time kept pace ahead of our slow moving vehicle as we headed into Gargantua Harbour on a rough dirt road.
Obviously, this linocut harkens back to neither of these glimpses, but at least I can legitimately say that I have seen a wolf in the wild. In truth, this wolf most resembles one the Toronto Zoo wolves on the day that the dominant male got up (they mostly sleep in zoos), ambled over to the edge of the fence and really, really looked at me. It was a little unnerving as that golden gaze seemed possessed of an intellect that was both superior and utterly alien--a gaze that is forever engraved in my mind.