Turning Seventy-Two Years Old

river threads

Yesterday I turned 72 years of age. I had no special plans other than washing and ironing after a week of feeling my way through five days of wood engraving in an exceptionally inspiring class. My fellow students were very good at seeing where and how to add the light and our instructor is simply the best and most generous at teaching.

My own work (three wood blocks engraved) was acceptable but leaned more toward the harsher lines of wood cuts than engravings. I need more practice. But engravings require end grain blocks of wood that are not so easy to come by. I could make my own like I did more than a few years back and hope that the seams where they must be pieced together do not show in the finished print or I could just go back to wood cuts where extra marks matter less.

Here are some of the engravings I did with the same instructor about six years ago.

samurai wood engraving

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And another I did on my own later, a small one used for hand printed Christmas cards.

pine cone wood engraving

And here is one of the many wood cuts I have done on the plank side of a wooden board. This is part of a series of owls with backgrounds carved on the opposite side of the block and colored with a different ink.

barn owl

And now for this past five days of engraving. ¬†Here is the first one. A small block about 2.5″ square carved with a crow’s head taken from a large graphite and acrylic painting I did and hangs in the studio.

crow block and prints

Then onto one of my favorite subjects: Eucalyptus leaves and pods. Here I used one of my own hand made glued up blocks that had worm holes in it. They could be somewhat disquised within the bug holes so prevalent in gum leaves.

gum nut block and print

And another finished print of this image.

gum nut print on green

Finally a 2.5″ x 4″ block of an interpretation of Storied House, a mixed media structure of a house with an organza book in the attic. I decided to see how it would be printed as a book plate.

Storied house block with sketchbook

storied house ex libris

I really like the sound of wood being shaved away from the matrix. I even like slipping and having to adapt the new mark into the image. But my hands get sore. My older hands get sore from the gouging, sharpening, gouging some more. My back hunched over the block aches because I just do not want to get up and take a break when I think that any moment now I will have the perfect block carved and ready to print.

This week I will give myself and my body a break and go back to assembling the Lost Time books that I printed and cut up before the engraving class. More Epson ink has arrived and I may just do the last five of the Diner Time Circus book. Or…..design another wood block image to start on when my hands recover.