Birches Block Print

Birches Block Print

Birches Block Print

I made this print from a printing plate made out of card stock. I used scissors and an Xacto knife to cut up card stock and I then glued the pieces to another piece of card stock using Elmer’s white glue and then glued the whole thing to a thin sheet of wood. I sealed the plate by painting it with a thin coat of acrylic gloss medium. Here’s what the plate looked like before I inked it up for printing.

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Almond Orchard – Block Print

Almond Orchard - Print 1

Almond Orchard – Print 1

I got some Speedball linocut carving tools and a couple of rubber printing plates for Christmas. I’ve never tried relief printing before. I spent about a week researching relief printing techniques and subjects. The toughest part for me was choosing a subject. I’ve been working with a full range of values and colors in watercolor and acrylics. It was hard to switch my thinking to just black and white. I looked through my collection of sketches and photographs, and picked out a few that were high contrast.  One was a picture of my father’s almond orchard.

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A Blue Day in the City

A Blue Day in the City

A Blue Day in the City

I’ve been meaning to try this for quite a while. I bought a cheap plastic one inch putty knife with the idea of using it to spread some paint around just to see what kinds of marks it can make. I then used a dip pen to add some detail with acrylic ink.

Acrylic on paper, palette knife and dip pen. 5.5 x 7.5 inches (13.5 x 18.5 cm).

Jim

Broken Ankle Sketch

Broken Ankle Sketch

Broken Ankle Sketch

This morning I was looking at the sketch I did in the ambulance and began wondering how realistic or accurate a sketch has to be to capture a moment or describe an event.

Ambulance Sketch

Ambulance Sketch

The lines are shakey. My foot is barely recognizable. Most people would judge it a “bad” sketch. Yet, for me, it takes me there and I remember everything. The EMT who was riding with me was named Patrick. I remember what we talked about during the ride, how long it took, what the route was, that the siren was not on…everything, and I realized that the amount of realism in the sketch was irrelevant. A sketch is a diagram of an experience. There is a crossover to other senses and memory neurons when you draw and it works much like a certain smell or melody does to trigger feelings or memories.

So, today, instead of doing a carefully layed out drawing of my surroundings, I’m doing a quick pen sketch. The proportions are all wrong, the objects look wonky, and the lines look scratchy, but that’s the place and situation all right. There is my bag of pens and pencils, my medications, my sketchbook, my foot in a cast, my crutches, and all the surrounding mess that is our family room and a bit of the kitchen. When I look at it, I know that the lines look that way partially because my wrist and arms hurt so much from using those crutches and I know that the pain in that foot has kept me awake for two nights. That is the magic of sketching. It’s a process of observing through movement of the hand and arm. The extra time and effort it takes makes it much more potent than a photograph. At least for the artist.

Broken Ankle Photo

Broken Ankle Photo

Jim

The Orchard

The Orchard

The Orchard

I’m starting to get the hang of this sketching stuff. My proportions are getting better and I’ve developed a process I like. I start by framing an area in my journal with blue tape, and then I lay out the scene using an orange erasable highlighter.

The Orchard - Layout

The Orchard – Layout

I divided the frame in half both vertically and horizontally and sketched in the major shapes in each quadrant. Then I drew the blackest blacks with a brush pen.

The Orchard - Brush Pen

The Orchard – Brush Pen

Finally I added detail with an extra fine nib pen mainly drawing the darks rather than the contours.

The Orchard - Extra Fine Nib Pen

The Orchard – Extra Fine Nib Pen

This is a small sketch – 5.5 x 3.5 inches. Here is what it looks like on the journal page.

The Orchard - Journal Page

The Orchard – Journal Page

I then used a hairdryer to heat up the drawing which erases the orange highlighter.

Jim

The Flowers That Bloom in May

The Flowers That Bloom in May Cover

The Flowers That Bloom in May PDF (10.5 MB)

During the month of May I challenged myself to draw every day. I chose as my theme the flowers in our backyard. I’ve been spending the last month and a half writing a journal about the project, which contains a gallery of all my sketches and field notes about my methods, materials, thoughts, and discoveries.

The Flowers That Bloom in May” – PDF (68 pages, 10.5 MB)

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Sebright Gardens Sketch

Sebright Gardens Sketch

Sebright Gardens Sketch

This morning I drove north to the Sebright Gardens for my first visit. Salem’s Artists in Action group was meeting there for one of their Paint the Town outings. So, in addition to checking out the garden I also wanted to meet the group. I talked with Melody and Merren and learned about the group and their activities and meetings. Both were very gracious and welcoming.

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