February can be a bleak month in the midwest if there isn’t any snow. I am always searching for something new to shake things up in my studio. A Foredom rotary drill arrived at the holidays, and I was finally able to try it out.
|The new drill permanently attached
to my carving desk.
Used mostly by jewelers, the drill has a powerful motor that I have mounted about the desk. To the casual eye, it looks a bit like I require IV fluids during marathon carving sessions. The drill has a long shaft and a very light barrel, which means much less stress on my hand and wrist. I especially like the foot pedal control, which allows me to completely start and stop without reaching up toward the drill motor’s power switch. My Dremel required that I reach over the barrel and shaft to turn off the power. “Just a flesh wound” was always a possibility with my old set-up.
|The lightweight barrel allows me
to create light, fluid marks
I like this new drill because it allows me to effortlessly scribe calligraphic lines into the linoleum. I use the drill for textures in my prints as well. The linoleum does dull the engraving bits quickly, but I simply can’t get the same results from my Japanese steel carving tools. I now order the bits in bulk on-line.
|Three colors begin my card creation experiment.|
In keeping with my desire to shake things up artistically, I decided to create cards and experiment with color using leftover paper pieces and linoleum from my large prints. The cards are for my personal use, so I don’t feel pressure to create something that gets framed. I used my new drill to begin a pattern inspired by some waves I photographed on a lake in Montana. Dividing the paper in thirds, my first color layers were purple, teal and gold.
|The second layer is a stage of uncertainty.|
With the second round of colors dispersed throughout the cards, I found colors that I thought were sublime (very light teal with an over-layer of blue purple) and others that were jarring (light gold overlaid with the same purple.) I forced myself to use each color on several of the cards, even if I didn’t think the results were going to be aesthetically pleasing. No tampering with the process…this is an experiment after all.
|Viewed one way, water appears.|
Layer three of colors gave me that great printmakers high, where you delight in that first peek at the colors and patterns in a finished print. I discovered that some of the prints did say “water” to me — and the colors dictated the time of day. Subtle dawns turned to the crisp blues of midday. Fiery sunsets in oranges or magentas completed the series.
|Viewed another way, we see perhaps the bark of the
Australian Snow Gum tree.
Other prints turned out completely unexpectedly. These were the cards that I grimaced over during the second color layer. By orienting them differently, I suddenly saw topographies, foliage and tree bark. Such a surprise — one that will be fodder for me as I plan my next big print. I might not send out all of these cards, but each one is a guide to what the layering of color can achieve.
How are you shaking things up in your creative life? What will your “something completely different” teach you?