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[Seacoast in Winter - 4] : Sky planning

Posted by Dave Bull at 9:15 PM, January 20, 2009

Continued from [Seacoast in Winter - 3] | Starting point of the thread is [Seacoast in Winter]

Carving has been continuing steadily over the past few weeks. I've been doing it by 'zone' - first working on the six blocks that will do the water in the pool, then the four that will delineate the rocks (plenty of overlap between these of course, as part of the rocks under the surface will still be visible ...).

I've kept the blocks for the sky area completely separate. That wasn't completely necessary, as it is going to be a cloudy grey day, and many of those tones could overlap the rock areas, but I wanted to make a mental break as much as a physical one.

As a reminder, here's that photo we saw before, of a summer day (remember, this is not 'the print' - it's just the same general area ...):

Clear blue sky - nothing could be easier. But how to depict a 'stormy' sky? It's not that easy ... Looking through my books of shin-hanga prints I see a few standardized ways of depicting clouds:
- white fluffies against a blue sky. This is the most common, and is dead easy; because white in this type of print is simply raw paper, all you have to do is cut out the areas of cloud.
- varied white/grey clouds in clear sky. This is done the same way, with the addition of some greyish tone blocks carved to suit.
- dull grey rainy sky. This is also fairly common, and is also straightforward. Grey replaces the blue ...

I find no good examples of the kind of sky that I want in this print - grey of course, a bit lighter here, a bit darker there, with energetic scudding clouds being driven across the sky by the wind. Either the shin-hanga artists (and their carvers/printers) couldn't come up with a good formula for this kind of scene, or it was just not to their taste.

So what I've been doing while working on the other parts of the image is thinking about clouds. There has been no point studying the sky outside my workshop window, because as luck would have it, the past few weeks have been a period of almost unbroken perfect weather - beautiful blue skies without a cloud in sight! (I think we sent all our clouds over to visit our North American friends this winter!)

It's no problem these days though, to find images of clouds to study ... Google turns up hundreds of them with the click of a mouse. But everything seems so static! I don't want thunder and lightning, I don't want a gloomy and 'heavy' cloud cover. I want some motion here!

So, I think the answer is to think back to the print I made of the River in Winter. I was faced with pretty much the same problem - how to make something 'move' - and I think I'll approach it in a similar fashion.

I've created a kind of 'sort of looks like clouds' pattern in the sky, and have broken this down into five tone levels, from lightest background, to the darkest part of the clouds. This rough pattern has been pasted onto the blocks as a guide, and from tomorrow morning, I'll start carving.

I'm going to do the same thing I did with the water - take off my glasses, put away my delicate carving knife, and use a v-cutter. I want these clouds to be ripped by the wind, and I guess the only way to do that is to start ripping into some wood!

The thread continues in [Seacoast in Winter - 5] ...


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