This is the seventh of the eight week series of Easter prints, done for various churches that subscribe to my artwork and use it in their church bulletins. I based this one on a painting I did at the woodworking school Country Workshops, located on a gorgeous piece of land that is one of my favorite places to paint. You can see the original painting and then the pencil sketch and the trace of it (to transfer to the block with carbon paper) below.
Here are the block and the color print. I had fun mixing the colors on the block with three different rollers, blending as I rolled. I was totally absorbed in the process and didn't think to take photos at the time, but I'll be doing this again. I've learned a number of things from doing this series, but the color inking has been the most fun thing to play with.
The type printed on top was the last step, after the original block
Five down, three to go. Here's this week's psalm. I think I may do an edition of the block alone, without the text, as well as a small edition of the psalm.
Below are the block halfway carved and the very first proof. I pull a couple of proofs, hone a few things I don't like, and print in color only when I've got it the way I want it.
Once the image is printed, I move on to the text. I took a little wider area picture this week. You can see the metal chase (frame) that I set the type in. I build around it to the edges, like working a jigsaw or piecing a quilt. The final stage is the lock down. The metal strips at the right and bottom with round holes in them are "quoins." There's a "key", a metal tool, that fits into that hole and turns, and as it turns, the quoins expand a bit to make everything snug so that I can pick up the chase and put it in the press without the type falling everywhere. This is after I've printed. I've cleaned up the type, but you can see the roller with the dark red ink on it.
I'm finding it quite a challenge to have one of these finished every week, so this week I took a moderately easy route and went with a very simple to carve design. Now I'm trying to work ahead a bit before I'm out of town a good bit of next week. Thank heavens for a marvelous house mate.
I'm taking a break from the instruments this week. I really love in the Psalms how all of creation takes part in praising or lamenting. We humans get to thinking that everything is about us and forget that we didn't even get our own day in Creation --- we shared it with all of the beasts of the earth.
Here is week two of the Easter Psalm series. I just looked at the liturgical calendar and realized I have six more of these to do. Possibly an ill advised series when I'm traveling so much, but I really like celebrating Easter for more than a day, especially in a year and a spring that are so personally joyful to me.
In previous years, I've done a series of prints to mark the season of Lent, but last year I read a quote from N.T. Wright talking about how we observe Lent for 40 days but only celebrate Easter for one. This year I decided to do a series for the season of Easter instead.
I carved the trumpet for the first print on my recent road trip, and, knowing I had a pretty quick turnaround after coming home, I also took my travel printing kit to be able to proof it and really have it ready to print when I got back. I found a train style make up case at the second hand mecca of Unclaimed Baggage in Alabama a few years ago, and it's the perfect size for my basic printing equipment.
When I got home I was ready to print the final image on the good paper in colored ink.
Then I set the wood type, using a metal frame called a chase. This means I can pick it up and move it around instead of having be stuck in my proof press, making me unable to print anything else until I disassemble the type. For smaller projects I can use a chase. For the bigger ones, I put larger type right in the bed of the press. This project is about 10x11", using my smallest wood type, so a chase is just right.
Finally I printed the type on top of the trumpet image.
And here's a sneak peek at week two of Easter. I couldn't resist a banjo, of course.
The segment about me that was filmed by the PBS show Tennessee Crossroads is out and up on You Tube. You can watch the six minute segment at:
I'm always a little stunned at how Southern I sound outside my own head, and occasionally I feel like there's a reason I'm a visual artist instead of a verbal one, but they did a really nice job of putting together an overview of my life, work, and creative philosophy.
And they showed off Mr. Darcy....
I'm doing one print a month for the First Presbyterian Church in Holley, NY. They are my longest running church patrons, and I love working with their minister Tom Gardner. For much of this year, I will create an "I am" statement for each month. This fall we'll continue the harvest series I began for them last year.
I'm playing with the positive/negative lettering for this series, which requires a fair amount of concentration, but thankfully I didn't make such a mistake on this one that I had to start over, like I did with the first one. Perhaps I'm getting into a groove with it.
I did forget that my proof press was full of type from another project, so I had to do the first proof the old fashioned way, by rubbing on the back of the paper with a flat wooden spoon. I did about three years' worth of prints like that, and it's a good reminder how fortunate I am to have a press now.
First Presbyterian Church in Holley, NY, is commissioning me to do another series of liturgical prints. I'm going to do a series of "I am" statements from John for their spring bulletins.
I started drawing the first one free hand, but using one of my type books as a guide for the lettering.
Then I got it transferred onto the block, outlined the letters with an exacto knife (to try to keep the edges sharp and keep me from cutting on through a line), and started carving. Things were going along great on the left, but then I started listening too hard to the Sunday morning puzzle on NPR and got distracted. The A in BREAD was supposed to be dark, to show up in the white of the bread, and I cut right into the letter. These positive/negative ones are especially tricky brainteasers for me. And that was in spite of the shading I did to try to keep myself straight.
Fortunately I wasn't too far along, so I started over, kept it straight, and managed to finish the print. Below is the first proof. I cleaned up the letters and edges a bit before pulling the final version at the top of the post.
First Presbyterian Church in Holley, NY, commissioned me to do a series of three harvest prints for this fall. The texts were taken from the hymnal, and the preacher Tom Gardner talked me through the fall season of abundance up there, and what would be ripe when.
This is the third and final print. You can see it from the original drawing (above) through the proofing process (below) and in its finished state.
Here are the first two prints in the series:
While I had the ink going, I decided I'd do some printing for the upcoming shows and Christmas season. I spent the afternoon printing all three harvest prints plus three new Paris prints. I filled up my drying rack.
After several hours of printing, on my feet and back and forth between rooms, I decided I'd earned a little back porch banjo-playing time. It's lovely weather here in Memphis for the late fall. It always makes me happy when it's warm enough to sit outside happily.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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