Process shots begin at the bottom of this post. I’ve had fun carving this linocut, in fits and starts, wedged between other projects over the summer.
I added color and changed values on the artist’s proof to explore where I need to focus the last phase of clearing the block. The photo reference was snapped in the mid 80’s on a crisp, Fall day, during a wonderfully rich chapter of my youth, so I’ve painted and printed the scene several times.
This always takes me back to that window (& my grandfather’s decanters), in that New England sunlight, at that particular time (a tiny apartment stuffed with family & friends as room mates). Art-making from your own photographs is a lovely bit of time travel.
Adding watercolor to the linocut (artist’s proof)
Drying prints in the studio
Pulling a test proof on newsprint (with mat board under and on top of the print as it goes through the press to reduce warp, stutter & squish in the printed image.)
Rolling ink on the plate with a Takach brayer
Adding Akua Mag Mix to Akua Intaglio ink so I can use it on a relief print
Using Flexcut gouges to carve the plate
Drawing on a grid, and adding halftones with ink washes
Cutting a 6×9 piece from a roll of unmounted linoleum
What nobody tells people who are beginners – and I really wish someone had told this to me . . . is that all of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, and it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not.
But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase. They quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out, or you are still in this phase, you gotta know it’s totally normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week, you will finish one story.
It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.
Ira Glass of This American Life on Creativity
This is a partial transcript of Ira talking about Creativity and the Building Blocks of a Great Story. It applies as well to pretty much all creative endeavors.