Typically, when I set out to compose a work, I try to put together a window that allows to viewer to see into a complete scene. As an illustrator, I deal with narrative, setting, and continuity. Foreground, middle-ground, and background are all addressed and developed in relation to each and to the boarders of the picture plane. For this assignment, where we were asked to work in a new way, that is not typical for us, I decided to disregard the idea of making a moment in time and to forget the idea of rendering a three-dimensional space.
I have always admired and envied purely decorative arts; things denoted as crafts such as embroidery, stationary, henna, and decorative boarders embellish the everyday objects of our lives and make them pleasing to look at, however they do not receive the same attention or respect as something that is framed–either literally or just by the edges of the image area.
Surface decoration can be just as laborious and complicated to construct as conceptual art but it differs so greatly because of its lack of meaning. It is so simple and upfront and that is why it appeals to me: because it is a change from the image that begs you to think about it. My henna-covered turtle is a simple image that is completely lacking in deeper meaning. It is surface decoration only, with no story, or mood, or space, or even boarders. The image stands alone without an environment and it is exactly what the viewer sees and nothing else. Yet it is still an image that I feel is worth creating because of the simple, straight-forward, decorative pleasure it delivers.
The first state of the image, the black henna on creme paper, was created very simply by drawing the design carefully onto a lithography stone. This was my first time working with a stone and those things are HEAVY. My stone was only 10″x 12″ and it weighed at least 15 lbs. Probably more. That might not seem like a lot to the rest of you, but I am a peanut!
For assignment III, the first state went fantastically and I am very happy with the results. So happy, in fact, that I did an addition of six, instead of the required five. (Yo. I’m selling these prints too….make me an offer)
The second state was made by counter-etching the first state, removing all of the gum so that I could apply more grease. I applied liquid touche (greasy paint) over the entire turtle, covering up all my pretty designs. Then, with an etching needle, and two scratch board styluses, I delicately carved out the same exact image out of the black turtle. The second stare is almost a negative image of the first, but there are obvious differences in weight of the line. When printing my second state, the areas that I had scratched out of the stone began to fill in. I pulled four prints, the first of which was just fine, with the others getting progressively darker and more filled in. So after four prints, I stopped, washed out the image, re-etched it, and then pulled six more copies with a less greasy ink. I had other problems while printing with the amount of ink on the stone and with the paper sticking to the stone and taring when I removed it, but eventually I did manage to get five good prints, though they may not be perfectly identical. Because of depressions in the stone, it was difficult to hit all places with the same amount of ink. The roller was much larger than the stone and so ink would build up on the outside while not hitting enough of the inside. Plus, even after re-etching, some lines still filled in where the ink was just too thick. But I do not mind the slight imperfections, as I think it gives the image character and a quirk.
I am excited to frame these two states together and hang them in my room. If I can somehow manage to craft my own frame out of beach wood, that would be just fantastic. But I will probably end up modifying an old frame from a yard -sale.