Work in Progress: the mysterious skull test print

mysterious skull test print by Miss Birdsong

I spent several hours in the print lab yesterday, working on this print. The one pictured here is the first print I pulled from the plate last week, in time for a Sunday critique with the other PAN Emerging Printmakers Residency participants. Since showing it there, I have scribbled on it with pen and pencil, marking out the changes I want to make… but you get the idea.  This print, by the way, is driven by the strange and vivid dream I blogged about not too long ago.  The river rocks in the dream became a seascape when I drew it.

Yesterday I added the bushes in the lower right corner, to balance out the composition. I also drew in some essential lines that were lost in the first etch because I didn’t draw through the ground. I was using a sharp needle tool and was afraid of scratching the plate too much, the result of which was being too gentle and losing lines. C’est la vie.

The next step is to burnish the sky a bit. Lightening that will deepen the picture plane and alleviate the flatness that I wanted to avoid. Someone at the critique said that they liked the flatness, because it put it in the aesthetic of Japanese printmaking. It’s nice, sure, but the whole point of the landscape in this one is to create the illusion of space. All of my prints have a flat picture plane, or a very shallow one, and I don’t want to get stuck there.  The body of work I’m getting in to now is supposed to shake me out of some habits I developed while working on Stories from the Stone House.

I hope I will always endeavor to improve my skills as an artist, and never be satisfied with where I am.  Making art is not just about creating images; it’s a challenge, a test of skill, and the pursuit of learning.  Right now, the challenge I have set for myself is to create depth in my images.

Stay tuned for more.

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