Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Destiny averted...

The annual shoot-out is on! Spring is five days away and Winter Spirit is determined to stick around for a while longer. In the last three hours, the ground has gone from a fresh green to nearly solid white. There is an inch or so of big, wet, gloppy snow (you know - the kind that's perfect for building snowcritters with!) on the grass.

Sometimes I do wish Winter could stick around a while longer, especially in the lean snow years. (Granted, that does seem to be every year now.) I miss the deep - well, for this area anyway - snows. I remember we used to have snow a foot or two deep at least once a year. Oh well, I'll try to enjoy this snow while it lasts - or I do.

I'm exhausted. I've been taking a printmaking class at a local community college and we're at mid-term. This morning, I got up at three thirty so I could work on this woodcut that had been giving me fits all week. It is an oversized playing card showing the King of Cats (I had read a Scottish folktale about the King of Cats and the idea stuck.) I also had some written work on the history of monoprints, woodcuts and intaglio due - turns out, no one else had done theirs either. Our instructor gave us another week and a half to finish that up.

Seriously, though, I wish I could tell just how much this woodcut has bothered me. I have cut the thing from scratch three times. Lines disappeared when I cut a line too thin and it popped off the board. Stop cuts didn't do their jobs and the blade bit into wood behind them. Lines went every which way but straight - or went straight when they should have curved. My tools got the blood sacrifice they have been demanding when I cut my fingers. It seems that almost everything possible has happened with this woodcut, short of the board itself splitting on me.

Sunday, things got so bad with this project that it brought out the drama queen in me. I stood in the middle of my studio, looking at this damn piece of poplar that had haunted me all during my spring break, certain that this was it. My career as an artist was over. I had found my Waterloo and it was sitting on my drawing table. This piece of wood had rendered me utterly useless and it had also revealed me as the uncreative, delusional dumbass people probably have suspected me to be all long. The jig was up. I was done. I may as well head immediately to Mickey D's and learn not to hate the phrase, "You want fries with that?" because it was clearly my destiny from now on.

So this morning, I headed to the printmaking studio early with an impending sense of doom. I wanted to make a test print without too many people seeing the catastrophe that was my woodcut. Still, there were a few people there and we got into a discussion of how the semester was going and I discovered I wasn't alone. We all felt that we had built up this great momentum at the beginning of the semester but were dead in the water now. None of us were feeling particularly great about the work review we were having at the beginning of class.

It went better than expected - it was only to show that we had actually been doing the work, although some critique given as well. I got brave and put the test print of the King of Cats up with other woodcuts I had done earlier.

Oh, you want to know what was said about this woodcut, this thorn in my side?

The instructor said that although it clearly needed more cutting to be done to it, it was the one project that looked the most like a true woodcut. It clearly used all kinds of different strokes to create various textures and the image was balanced between light and dark, solid color and texture, etc.

I was truly shocked. It got a good initial critique - nay, it got a great critique!

It looks like Mickey D's may have to wait - I may have a future with this art thing after all.

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