Despite anticipation and excitement over learning something new at the September Grampians Brushes in Halls Gap, I experienced a good dollop of angst in the lead-up. I’d enrolled to take David Frazer’s weekend workshop on multi-coloured linocuts and wood engraving. Although I have attempted and achieved pleasing results with reduction method, coloured linocuts, I’d never attempted a muti-block coloured print, and wasn’t at all sure of the process. Wood engraving was another matter. That was exactly the reason for attending, I hear you say. Certainly, but there’s something awe-inspiring and a little scary in meeting with an ‘expert’, even having met him previously in passing.
Faced with the prospect of a blank piece of lino my mind struggled to grasp an image. Why is it that images and ideas come unbidden, often thick and fast while vaccuuming or in the shower, but to come up with something ‘on demand’ is so often impossible? Sitting there, conscious of others already well into their designs, panic started to niggle. At this rate, I would have nothing to show for a morning’s work. Maybe a coffee would encourage the muse. About to reach for my mug, I felt the muse’s tap on my noggin – the mug! Not the most inspiring of subjects, but it was there in front of me, waiting to be transformed.
Subjects don’t always have to knock your socks off to inspire art. Everyday objects and scenes can serve as a memory-jogger of times in our lives. It might be a momentous occasion, a special person or, in this case, a very enjoyable weekend of learning some new tricks of the (printmaking) trade and experimenting.
The print turned out okay, despite me being unsure about what to cut away and what to leave on the two ‘coloured’ blocks. I’d successfully learned a new-for-me process.
The Sunday brought another dose of angst, with being challenge to come up with two more subjects for wood engraving. We were givin a block of wood with a hard rubber glued to one face, as a practice piece to get used to handling the engraving tools. Unlike some of the workshoppers, I’d had marginal experience, having had a couple of lessons some time ago, and basically had fun mark-making. Then it was time to produce the real thing.
Having picked up a promotional magazine the previous afternoon, still in my handbag, I flicked through it and chose a photo of a pooch. Below is a print from the finished block. All in all a wonderful weekend spent playing and learning from one of the experts in printmaking. Highly recommended!