I came west fully intending to use the time here for illustration and for watercolor immersion. Then I kept stepping outside and looking at the trees, and suddenly I have a flood of prints in my head. Since I'm more or less on vacation and don't have any particular deadlines, I'm free to do the work that is calling to me most insistently at the moment, so I've been doing prints the last week. I've done two tiny ones, since I don't have big supplies out here, but I'm also laying out several larger ones and waiting for big linoleum to arrive in the mail for me. Above is one of the little 5x7" two block prints. I've been testing it in different colors, but the deep blue/purple of the sky is what I saw when I stepped outside with Mr. Darcy at bedtime and is what inspired the print.
The other small print is from our near daily walk on the Cascade Trail. It's an old railway bed that is now a gravel trail for walkers, cyclists, and horses. I love how quiet it is, with no traffic to contend with (once we cross the highway to get on it, anyway). The trees often form an archway over it (another forthcoming print) but at the open end near home, you get a stunning view of Sauk Mountain. I'm color testing this one as well, but in a more subtle way. I think I like the gradated sky instead of the solid one.
I originally planned the mountain to be solid blue, which is how it seemed the day this view really spoke to me. Since you can't put anything back once you carve it away, I've been leaving some green in it, just to see if I want the depth, but it's too messy looking, and I think I'm just going to clear it out of there and let the mountain recede into blue distance.
These blocks are new for me since I'm not keeping the full frame around them but simply carving more organic shapes. That makes them harder to print, since the edges want to catch some ink even when they're cut down, and I don't have a press out here, so I'm back to my wooden spoon, and things can move a little more that way. It's fun to play, but I mostly prefer keeping my prints with a frame for both visual reasons and for practicality. The bigger ones I'm starting will be a little more traditional, but I must say I'm pleased with how these two are turning out if I can get clean prints from them.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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