Sunday, January 8, 2017

"The most beautiful book of 2016"

"Burr acorn", Prismacolor colored pencil on Stonehenge Kraft
(click to enlarge)

When I draw things found in  the natural world, it forces me to really look closely at them, and I can't help but be amazed at the fascinating patterns that I see. The concept of the Fibonacci sequence, and the golden mean are well-known, but the science behind these patterns goes way beyond that.

I recently came across a review of Philip Ball's book, Patterns In Nature: Why the Natural World Looks the Way it Does, and I knew I had to find it. It's a pricey volume, so I found a pristine, new Publisher's Weekly called this book "the most beautiful book of 2016",  and I couldn't agree more.

The acorn in this drawing is from the Burr Oak. We were visiting Texas for Christmas, and my daughter brought a handful of these into the house one morning. (Everything is, indeed, bigger in Texas!)

Monday, January 2, 2017

Armchair eagle-watching

"Sauces Canyon - 2016", linocut, 6" x 6"

I recently realized that I'd never written a post about this linocut that I did last year. It's based upon an image that I grabbed from the webcam footage of a nesting bald eagle out in California's Channel Islands National Park. My son is a wildlife biologist and works with the Institute for Wildlife Studies' bald eagle project out on Santa Cruz Island; this print was his birthday present. 

It's particularly timely that I started writing this post now: thanks to new-and-improved webcams, we can see that this season's nest building is getting underway! I hope you'll take a minute to check out the footage; seeing these natural wonders up close is something that not many people are able to do, but we can share in the experience thanks to today's technology!

Here's the screen shot I grabbed while watching the live video...amazing, isn't she?

Then, I did a drawing, simplifying the image. (Oops, forgot to save that!) In a reduction linocut, you don't use separate blocks for each color, you carve away parts of a single block between each layer. At the end, you're left with just the block for the last color; there's no going back to print another edition in the future. 

To start, I carved away the parts I wanted to stay white (the paper color) before printing the first of 5 layers - this blue-green that you see in the upper right of the final piece. 

Then, while those dried, I carved away the area stays THAT color and printed this medium green...
and so on.  (Sorry for the bad lighting...)

I'm still relatively new to block printing, so things didn't line up perfectly on all the prints, and "real" linocut artists would frown at my somewhat splotchy coverage, but I think it adds to the rustic, outdoorsy feel that's appropriate here. I made a little "stamp" to add the yellow beak, so actually, it's a 6-color print.

In the end, all I'm left with is this carved-up block:

and this! (The best of only 8 that were worth keeping.)

I can't wait to see what happens in the nests this year!