Some prints do pretty much as they are asked to do and help me to a result which I’m either pleased with or not. Probably because my initial plan for this latest one was a little vague, it resisted success right to the end! So I thought I’d just put some detail to the stages of making it.
The idea came from my ongoing interest in a mix of images and symbols from mythology and folk/ancient religion: Hares (and especially their eyes) and witches; the so called Greenman or ‘Jack in the Green’; the changing seasons and significant times such as the Celtic Samhain autumn festival; ‘sacred’ trees such as oak and rowan etc.
I couldn’t recall seeing the sprouting face image of the Greenman being applied to an animal, but the spiritual brown hare seemed a good choice to try it with. And having previously made a connection in another print between the coming of spring green in the woods and a witch; and as it was the end of October and the woods full of colour ….things began to come together.
The initial plan was really quite straightforward: I would cut a ‘key’ lino block design which would print in one dark colour (not just black - it can be so deadening) and ‘colour it in’ using simple screen-print stencils. Indeed I was thinking at first of an almost ‘stained glass window’ quality.
Even with a proposed simple image like this (at least in terms of texture and line, if not content) I prefer to use a fairly sketchy tracing; then allow the process of carbon paper transfer, plus use of a soft pencil and then the actual ‘drawing’ with the gouges to dictate the final line and shapes. This, rather than mechanically traced and carved dead line, gives some life to the image.
So by now I was a bit lost. What to do? The pile of expensive paper was already printed with several screen printed layers. I had spent a long time finalising the composition and even longer carefully carving the lino block, the register of which image only just fitted the the colours already printed on all of the paper.
My wife is a painter (and a brilliant and successful one at that). We share our big studio and of course often consult each other. She often says “this one’s fighting me” about her paintings. So she was sympathetic to my battle and brought a painter’s eye to the job. “Just emphasise the hare” she said. “leave the bits on either side they’re OK as they are”
The final dark details and the gold ink outer circle were printed in one pass ….and the battle was won!