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[River in Winter - 1] : Design for the next print ...

Posted by Dave Bull at 8:00 PM, December 19, 2007

Time for work on the next chapter of the My Solitudes series to get under way; this one will be the 'River in Winter'.

The design for this one may come as a bit of a surprise to some people; I have learned from correspondence during the past few months, that many people seem to have the idea that there are only to be three designs in this series, with the same landscapes appearing in different seasons. Now that's not a bad idea for an intellectual and design challenge, but I felt that for a multi-year project like this, the collectors (and I) need a bit more varied 'content'. So there will be 12 very different designs overall.

We saw a very peaceful corner of the river back in summer. Let's look at another aspect of it this time:

Now this isn't a photo of my actual camping spot - this was taken a short distance upstream. But it does serve to give another view of what this river looks like ... a very steep valley and a rough landscape. I'm standing at least four meters above the water, and look at that trash caught up in the tree branches on the right! This is not a place you want to be after a major storm comes through!

The previous river print was a mid-range landscape design; but this time I want to move in for a close-up, so I scouted all around my camp area for an interesting 'still life' of rock and water. When you get down at the water's edge, it's quite a jumble of white water and rapids. Here's a typical view ... surely it should be possible to find something interesting in all that!

After a few hours of poking around at the water's edge, and getting my feet plenty wet jumping and slipping around on the rocks, I came across this little scene:

Rock ... smooth water ... white water ... and a good bit of 'energy' as the water slides down that little 'chute'. I think there might be an interesting print 'hiding' here ...

I took some snapshots, and then returned to my desk, and started to fool around, trying to frame it in the best way to catch the dynamism of the moving water. I think I managed to come up with something, but it's going to be difficult to show you ... yet.

The previous three prints in this series all had pretty understandable 'key' blocks. There was one block - printed in dark pigment - that carried lines that formed the boundaries of the different colour areas of the print. This image will be different. There will be no key block as such.

During the time that I am carving, there will be no way for you to 'see' pieces of the puzzle coming together. The blocks - for the most part - are just going to seem like random shapes and patterns. But once they are all done, and a multi-layer printing is done from them, I'm hoping we'll have an interesting print!

Anyway, for what it's worth, here's the only one of the blocks that will have any lines at all, so let's call this the 'key' block:

I think you can recognize the stone in the lower left corner; as for the rest ... well, stay tuned!

The thread continues in [River in Winter - 2] ...


Following comment posted by: Elizbeth Atwood on December 20, 2007 11:43 PM

The swift water.............what a challenge!..............can't wait to see how you develop it.

Following comment posted by: Marc Kahn on December 21, 2007 12:37 AM

What a great plan! When I used to fly-fish for trout in the local rivers, I would seek out places like this. The water becomes aerated by the interaction with the rocks, and the fish have an easy time "breathing". That's why they hang out there.

I remember thinking about how the river breaks up into somewhat independent sub-rivers which in turn break up into sub-sub-rivers, and so on. Sort of like fractals. When you focus on the small details, the image can be an abstract one. As your focus broadens, the multiple abstract pieces form a progressively more representational scene.

It looks like your print will be somewhere in the middle of that spectrum. I'm looking forward to seeing how it develops!


Following comment posted by: Mark Mason on December 21, 2007 1:09 AM

You like to give yourself a challenge, Dave.
An exciting prospect. At this early stage, have you firmly decided what each block will do, colourwise; or do you allow yourself the freedom to chop and change colours, through to the proofing stage?

The prospect of this image reminds me of Hiroshi Yoshida's amazing "Rapids" print.

Following comment posted by: Lana Lambert on December 21, 2007 1:20 AM

Oh wow, that is going to be such a lovely print! Now I want to go visit some of my creeks to try and do some of the lovely water. Thanks for the inspiration!

Following comment posted by: Jacques on December 21, 2007 6:06 AM

Looking at your photographs I had exactly the same immediate association as Mark: Hiroshi Yoshida's Rapids print. I'm especially looking forward how you will do the almost impossible: stylize and freeze-frame these mind-boggling movements of water!

Following comment posted by: Dave on December 21, 2007 8:01 AM

reminds me of Hiroshi Yoshida's amazing "Rapids" print

Definitely an inspiration, no doubt. I sat and looked at that one for a long time while planning this image. All the illustrations I can find of it though, are horribly faded and colour distorted, and tell me nothing about 'how it was done ...'

have you firmly decided what each block will do

The stone at lower left, and the foam at the top left are pretty much set - four blocks each, and I 'know' what to do to create the image in mind.

The chute of water is a different story. I'm going to cut six blocks, with various overlapping zones, and will then try to find a way to print them that gives: depth in places, transparency in places, sky reflections, an underwater stone ... and of course the sweeping motion of the water rushing along ...

abstract ... representational

I'm thinking this one might work both ways; I think close up it will look a bit abstract, and perhaps somewhat confusing. But if you put it down and look from a distance, it may come to look almost photographic ... Not sure yet!

Thanks for following along and providing your comments; I sit here alone and struggle with this stuff, and it was very heartwarming to find these in my Inbox this morning, and to know that people are watching!

Following comment posted by: Serge Astieres on December 21, 2007 3:30 PM

Hello Dave,
Another wonderful print coming our way. Looks very promising. I'll look at streams in a different way now.
Best wishes

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