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Climber 7×7 Collagraph with colored pencil on Arches paper Sold

Available in my Etsy shop.
Process shots begin at the bottom of this post.
This is the fourth collagraph in a series (you can see the others here, here, and here) and I’m having a gluttonously good time in the studio making and printing these plates. They are so simple, but they offer an abundance of variation for subject matter, texture, colors and atmosphere. I’ve always loved painterly printmaking techniques (one of the reasons I love making dark field monotypes), but these are great because I can print a small edition (in this case, ten) and alter the colors and atmosphere in each one. I’ve printed the bike & t-shirt for this one in a few colors, and I think I’d like to make one or two of them into night scenes. The next colagraph is almost ready for ink, so I’ll post it after the weekend. Stay tuned!

I listen to books while I paint or carve or print, and I’m re-visiting a book I read 10 years ago – My Antonia, by Willa Cather. An unexpected surprise from listening to this particular book – instead of reading it – is that the narrator, Jeff Cummings does a wonderful job narrating each character with their native Bohemiam or Swedish or Russian accents, so the names & dialogue spring to life with his artful interpretation of their dialect and inflections. If you’ve never listened to a book while making art, give it a go. It’s possible that keeping a little corner of the brain engaged in listening to a story helps halt the hands from noodling in one area for too long and over-working things. And if you love the book, it keeps you working longer, and helps infuse the art with some of the atmosphere of the story you’re listening to.  We get to make art and read a book at the same time – and that’s got to qualify as a whole truckload of yahoo, right?  🙂

The first four prints, drying on my easel
Pulling the first print on the press
After inking the plate a la poupee, I’m wiping
some areas to lighten values
What the mat board looks like after cutting away areas for ink,
and before I added carborundum to hold concentrated ink in the darkest areas.
After drawing and then sealing the mat board front and back, I’ve cut around the darkest
areas and I’m carefully peeling the top layer of the mat board away.

Art Quote
This isn’t an art-quote, directly, but the passage – especially the last 4 lines – is a little painting with words, from My Antonia, by Willa Cather (1918):
We started off across the yard with the (11) children at our heels. The boys were standing by the windmill, talking about the dog. Some of them ran ahead to open the cellar door.  When we descended, they all came down after us, and seemed quite as proud of the cave as the girls were. Ambrosch, the thoughtful looking one who had directed me down by the plumb bushes, called my attention to the stout brick walls and the cement floor. “Yes, it is a good way from the house,” he admitted, “But, you see, in Winter, there are nearly always some of us around to come out and get things.”  Ana and Yulka showed me three small barrels; one full of dill pickles, one full of chopped pickles and one full of pickled watermelon rinds. “You wouldn’t believe, Jim, what it takes to feed them all,”  their mother exclaimed. “You ought to see the bread we bake on Wednesdays and Saturdays. It’s no wonder their poor papa can’t get rich! He has to buy so much sugar for us to preserve with. We have our own wheat ground for flour, but then, there’s that much less to sell.” Nina and Jan, and a little girl named Lucy, kept shyly pointing out to me the shelves of glass jars. They said nothing, but, glancing at me, traced on the glass with their fingertips the outlines of the cherries and strawberries and crab apples within. Trying by some expression of countenance to give me an idea of their deliciousness. “Show him the spiced plums, Mother. Americans don’t have those.” said one of the older boys. “Mother uses them to make kolatchkes,” he added. Leo, in a low voice, tossed off some scornful remark in Bohemian. I turned to him. “You think I don’t know what kolatchkes are, eh? You’re mistaken, young man! I’ve eaten your Mother’s kolatchkes long before that Easter day when you were born!” “Always too fresh, Leo,”  Ambrosch remarked with a shrug. Leo dived behind his mother and grinned out at me. We turned to leave the cave. Antonia and I went up the stairs first, and the children waited. We were standing outside talking, when they all came running up the steps together; big and little, toe-heads and gold-heads and brown, and flashing little naked legs. A veritable explosion of life, out of the dark cave, and into the sunlight. It made me dizzy for a moment.

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5 thoughts on “Collagraph: Climber”

  1. @Barbara – I am also a big TED fan. Attended my first conference in Monterey in 93 and have loved it ardently ever since. Good tip to listen to the presentations in the studio. Especially the stuff about creativity. xoxoxo

  2. A beautiful image, and lovely quote. I think I’ve read Willa Cather, but not this book. How lovely. I listen to TED talks, and radio shows, and movies I’ve seen while I paint. It does really help keep me in the studio.

    Thanks for this suggestion.


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