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Saturday, May 26, 2018

Working With Metaphor

Remember this piece?  I talked about how it developed here and here

It's called Spear.  I talked with my friend Ann Godridge about its meaning.  My original intention was to create a semi abstract tree, with a leaf shape and a rectangular shape that didn't seem to have any meaning at all.  And yet it ended up feeling as if it was a spear and a shield.  I talked about how that seemed important to me, because I felt I needed some sort of defense, mainly against the attitudes of other people towards my illness.  It's not easy, having a physical illness that is dismissed as 'all in your head'.  Or when friends disappear, for whatever reason, other than the illness.  Or when I become invisible in a wheelchair.  It all hurts, and I need some sort of defense against that pain, until I get used to it all, grow a thicker skin, get used to having no friends other than the virtual ones.

I think this is the ideal example of an experimental piece turning into an expressive piece.  Playing about with those elements in an experimental way produced an unexpected depth of meaning which pleases me, and helps me to understand things better.  So I started to play around with the spear and the shield, with the intention of making a series of linocuts.  I recently bought a load of softcut, expecting to teach a workshop which was cancelled under me,  so I had a lot of 'stuff' to use, and the shapes of both spear and shield seemed to lend themselves to linocut.  So... here are three variants on this theme :

I could have made the leaf/shield shapes solid, but chose to work them as if I was making a stencil.  I think it will add a little visual interest.  I think the triangles within the leaf shapes might be too solid, but I won't really know that until I cut them, or possibly until I actually print with them.  I think it's important to remember that I'm not making prints as prints.  Rather, I'm making prints as a base for stitch.  The stitch will ultimately be more important than the print, so I want to make sure that there's plenty of room for it, and also that no single element of the print will dominate the piece.  There's a danger of that with these triangles, so it's something to watch.

I had a hospital appointment, so that was the ideal opportunity to sketch some more.  I said that I don't usually use sketchbooks to develop work, but linocut is a definite exception.  This sketchbook is exactly the same size as my blocks, so working out how the different elements will combine is useful.  I find that marks on softcut don't erase all that well, so I like to work things out properly before I mark the design. 

I think I like the bottom one better...the top one may prove to be a little cluttered.  Nonetheless, when I've got the size of the shields right, it will probably feel more balanced (one side is clearly larger than the other). 

These sketches aren't perfect; I didn't have a ruler with me, so the division across the blocks is approximate, for example, not to mention the wonky spears...  I also discovered that it's not easy to draw in a wheelchair, even in a hardback journal; no flat surface.  At home, I have my legs up on a footstool, which makes them level; they are on a slant in the wheelchair.  Don't think there's anything I can do about that, other than work in a smaller journal, which would be easier to handle.  Lugging a work board around really isn't an option....but I digress.

You can see how straightforward it is to take a couple of elements and combine them in different ways to make different images.  I have at least one other to try out.  I did have a day of panic when I couldn't find my lino cutters, which, unlike the missing felting needles, would have been expensive to replace (they're professional quality, as I really couldn't get on with the wee cheap red handled things).  Fortunately, though, I found them this morning, in just the place I thought of at three o'clock this morning....insomnia has to be useful for something.

So...more development and some cutting.  Wish me luck.


Margaret Roberts said...

That was very interesting. I've booked myself on another course which won't be until later in the year on lino cutting. I haven't done any for years.

marion barnett said...

Thank you. Enjoy, Margaret. Lino's really ideal for textile work. You've inspired me to go on a collagraph course, if I can find one up here. Might have to find a printmaker to coach me, instead.