I don’t know how Thomas Edison did it. Popular lore claims that he discovered 1000 ways to not create a light bulb before he achieved illumination. I’ve been experimenting with encaustic printmaking this fall, and while I have learned a great deal…let’s just say that I have not achieved my light bulb.
I received some nice news this week that one of my favorite prints, Breath Intertwined (a close-up view of two red bud leaves) was accepted as part of the 2015 Delta National Small Prints Exhibition. This print went to Boston last fall, and is currently at the 57th Mid-States Art Exhibition in Evansville, IN. I thoroughly enjoyed creating this print, and this encouraged me to do another up-close leaf print.
|Selfie with me and two layers of ink
I’ve chosen the sassafras leaf as my point of inspiration this time. The sassafras trees around the Midwest are accidental trees, growing at the edges of forests and under power lines. Their leaves can be oval, mittened or tri-lobed. I started with a bright yellow flat layer, and then spent the next three days working on the cellular structure.
|Gingersnap reminds me to take breaks.
To keep track of where I am in the print, I create a tracing paper template. But unlike other prints where I put every line on the tracing paper, here I actually drew many of the tiny segments right on the block. Carving these tiny lines could be seen as tedious, but for me it has the same calming effect as knitting or hand quilting. Slowly, slowly you can see the texture of the leaf beginning to take shape.
|Just like green sassafras leaves, my green is really made up of several colors.
When I went to print a green over the yellow rectangles, I was amazed at how many colors I actually needed to create the green I wanted. I mixed transparent based with both Phthalo Green and Prussian Blue, along with a dollop of Hansa Yellow and Napthol Scarlet. I once had a professor who required us to paint an entire landscape using only Hooker’s Green to create all of the colors we needed. We were able to create a wide array of colors, although I must admit I have avoided the color since. Too muddy.
|Panorama of my studio. My Iphone 5 sure is fun!