Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Week 3: Sometimes You Can't see the Forest for the TREES

Penland School of Crafts... behind the trees
   A scenic mountain top, a beautiful sky, and a phenomenal place called Penland School of Crafts... This past week, this artist has been lucky to have begun a 4-week artist residency in the letterpress studio at Penland School of Crafts (http://penland.org). The book-of-the-week, Sometimes You Can't see the Forest for the TREES is a 5-color poster created with the excellent equipment and materials available here at Penland. An edition of 10 posters was made.  The press work was completed on a Vandercook cylinder press using several methods to achieve the 5-color design: pressure prints, stencils, and wooden type. All ink colors were mixed by hand, using a Pantone color guide.
a map to awareness...
   The initial printing of the pale green background was achieved using a pressure-print method of cut paper stencils placed behind the poster paper as it was rolled over an inked plexiglass plate. Next, 5 different tree stencils were cut and hand inked with an olive-green ink. The olive-inked tree stencils were placed on a clean plexiglass plate which had been locked into the pressbed. Their placement on the plexiglass was traced with a Sharpie marker, so subsiquent editions would register the exact placement. After each poster was run through the press, the stencils were removed from the plexiglass plate and re-inked, then placed back on the plexiglass plate in the exact spot before the next poster paper was run. This process was repeated 10 times for each color...to complete the edition of 10. There were 3 colors of trees: olive green, dark blue, and gray-green. Each time the trees' color changed, the stencils' placement on the plexiglass plate also changed.

"Sunshine" the Vandercook press, inked (from a different project) and ready for a pressure print
   The final step was printing the phrase.. Sometimes You Can't see the Forest for the TREES. Antique wood type from the remarkable Penland letterpress studio was the perfect fit for the natural motif. After tedious setting... and re-setting the type into the pressbed so that it meandered across the poster like a path... the wooden type was finally ready to print. The fifth color, a shade of brown ink was mixed and then applied to the letterpress rollers... And the 10 posters were run through the press... to complete the edition and the book-of-the-week, Sometimes You Can't see the Forest for the TREES.

five colors...
close up.. the path through the trees
After all 10 prints of the edition were complete, they were laid out on the counter for inspection.

an edition of 10
And then rearranged...
the edition, as a tree...
   Canadian artist Emily Carr (1871-1945) is known for her oil paintings of trees.  Born in Victoria, British Columbia she studied painting at the San Francisco Institute, London, and Paris before returning to BC to create work in a modernist and post-impressionist painting style. Her early work was heavily inspired by the Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast; but eventually her work morphed into primarily trees and forest landscapes. The Vancouver Art Gallery has a huge collection of her beautiful paintings... One huge green, blue and brown oil painting of a grove of evergreen trees still shines in this artist's memory... This example of her work was in a solo exhibition titled Deep Forest in Vancouver, Canada and London in 2014.

Deep Forest, Lighted, oil on paper, 1935, 
Emily Carr
In the real world, finding the path through an unfamiliar place can feel like being lost in a wild jungle of trees. That's when it helps to have a map.
in the Laurel thicket behind Penland.. lost the path again!

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