Going on from my last post, I have now turned the composition 90 degrees to 'portrait' ratio, putting the split on the block on the bottom third (see red line on the scribbled rough). With a fair bit of compositional squeezing and jiggling it now misses all the vital components and can be gently eased out of a starring role.
While I was there, I have enlarged the rock samphire plants at the bottom, added a flying gull and given the whole image a cut-away outline. I like this version better.
A couple of blog posts ago, I showed a sketch of my next proposed engraving; the old lifeboathouse at Lizard Point.
The block I have decided to use is the last uncut block of my vintage early 1980's stock. I bought several good size pear and boxwood blocks back then (when I had more disposable income!). But my first attempts at engraving at this time were unsatisfactory and my interest and patience waned. Working in isolation didn't help and I went back to painting.
Blocks, burin tools, roller and sandbag all ended up in a box in the loft, surviving 3 house moves, until 2008 when the engraving bug bit me again. Harder. Out of the loft came my engraving equipment. The roller had melted, not unsurprisingly, but the new durathene roller refill fitted my brass frame and was even better. I had several of my smaller old blocks that had been engraved (with toecurlingly bad results!) resurfaced by Chris Daunt, who recreated a fine surface for my newer work.
This particular block is 7" x 5 1/2" , one of the largest I've got. It's pearwood, I think and has never been touched by a tool. The challenge lies in the fact that the block was made using three pieces, jointed and glued. One of the joints has over the 29 years in storage, opened out a little.
To see how much of a problem it might create, I inked the block up and ran it through the press.
Granted, it's a relatively light impression, but the split is still clearly visible. The question is: can I work around it and obscure it when I cut the design? I think probably, the human eye being what it is, it will be slightly noticeable, even if I position the design so that much of the split is cut away or textured. I'm not overly bothered by it really.... to me it speaks of the wood the design is cut into. It's not a perfect, inert plastic surface, impervious to changes of temperature and humidity.
I recently sent two of my engravings off to the selection panel of the Society of Wood Engravers, to see if I could exhibit them in their prestigious travelling annual exhibition. I've had prints accepted the past two years.
I'm very happy to reveal that both the prints have got into the exhibition!
Late Shopping and my latest print, Winter Walkies.
Details of the exhibition venues are on the SWE website, more venues to be announced.
I've been working on a new idea for my next block. A few weeks ago we went walking down to the old lifeboat house at Lizard Point, Cornwall and I was taken by the viewpoints down onto the boathouse, fishing boats, clinging samphire plants and beach from the cliff path. I managed to take two photos before my camera batteries died on me, but it was enough.
The black area of sea I'm still thinking about. And the scribbled reminder in the margin is so that I don't forget to flip the design when I trace it to the block....an engraver's nightmare!