08 March, 2007

32 Sq. Feet of Inky Commie Zombie Goodness

Well, it's that time of the year again, when Dennis McNett, one of my printmaking teachers a Pratt, rents a big ol' steamroller, and we spend a day printing large (really large) woodblock prints out behind Steuben Studios at Pratt. This is the third year in a row he puts this together, and for various and sundry reasons I've never been able to participate. Last year I told myself that this year I would do it, and lo and behold, it's coming together. Swing by Pratt's Brooklyn campus on 11 April if you want to see some bad ass printmaking action. With steamrollers. Steamrollers!

The requirements are simple: the block has to be no smaller than 4 feet by 8 feet, you have to bring a can of ink, and you have to be there all day to help others print their work (there is no way to do this alone- it's very much a collaborative thing).

I started sketching last weekend, and here is a modified crop of the final composition. I finally locked down a piece of MDF board to use (thanks Julia!), and I start carving this weekend. I'll be spending all my free time in the basement of Steuben Studio until I'm done or until April 11, whichever comes first.

I wanted to do something whimsical, with a tongue-in-cheek quality, but dark and sciecne fiction-y, or at the very least supernatural. After sitting on it for a few days, and toying with ideas that ranged from space-pirates, to Cylons (of course), to post-apocalyptic cityscapes, I settled on zombies. When in doubt, look to the undead for inspiration. That's gonna be my motto from now on. As I started sketching, I realized that my zombie had the look and pose of one of those aspirational figures from old communist propaganda posters, so I'm running with that, in terms of the type treatment. Zombies AND politics! We'll see how it all turns out.

I decided I wanted to sketch this out on the computer, using my Wacom tablet. This is the first piece I've ever done that has started life completely in the copmuter (and with no photo reference), from scratch. I'm very pleased with the results so far. Once you get over the hump of getting the feel for how the tablet responds to your strokes, and how they translate into the computer, it's all downhill from there. The advantages of working on a Mac as opposed to a piece of paper should be obvious (the Undo command and the History pallette in Photoshop are my good, good friends).

Once the sketch is finished I'll tile-print the artwork on a laser printer, and transfer it to the board using either vegetable oil, or I might just spray mount the paper onto the board, and carve through it. We'll see what works best. I also want to print on a red sheet, and possibly go at the sheet with a can of yellow spray paint to get the two-color thing going.

I'll post pictures of the work in progress as it ...em... progresses. And I'll definitely post pictures from the steamroller sessions. It's gonna be so. much. fun!

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