February can be a bleak month in the midwest if there isn't any snow. I am always searching for something new to shake things up in my studio. A Foredom rotary drill arrived at the holidays, and I was finally able to try it out.
The new drill permanently attached to my carving desk.
Used mostly by jewelers, the drill has a powerful motor that I have mounted about the desk. To the casual eye, it looks a bit like I require IV fluids during marathon carving sessions. The drill has a long shaft and a very light barrel, which means much less stress on my hand and wrist. I especially like the foot pedal control, which allows me to completely start and stop without reaching up toward the drill motor's power switch. My Dremel required that I reach over the barrel and shaft to turn off the power. "Just a flesh wound" was always a possibility with my old set-up.
The lightweight barrel allows me to create light, fluid marks
I like this new drill because it allows me to effortlessly scribe calligraphic lines into the linoleum. I use the drill for textures in my prints as well. The linoleum does dull the engraving bits quickly, but I simply can't get the same results from my Japanese steel carving tools. I now order the bits in bulk on-line.
Three colors begin my card creation experiment.
In keeping with my desire to shake things up artistically, I decided to create cards and experiment with color using leftover paper pieces and linoleum from my large prints. The cards are for my personal use, so I don't feel pressure to create something that gets framed. I used my new drill to begin a pattern inspired by some waves I photographed on a lake in Montana. Dividing the paper in thirds, my first color layers were purple, teal and gold.
The second layer is a stage of uncertainty.
With the second round of colors dispersed throughout the cards, I found colors that I thought were sublime (very light teal with an over-layer of blue purple) and others that were jarring (light gold overlaid with the same purple.) I forced myself to use each color on several of the cards, even if I didn't think the results were going to be aesthetically pleasing. No tampering with the process...this is an experiment after all.
Viewed one way, water appears.
Layer three of colors gave me that great printmakers high, where you delight in that first peek at the colors and patterns in a finished print. I discovered that some of the prints did say "water" to me -- and the colors dictated the time of day. Subtle dawns turned to the crisp blues of midday. Fiery sunsets in oranges or magentas completed the series.
Viewed another way, we see perhaps the bark of the Australian Snow Gum tree.
Other prints turned out completely unexpectedly. These were the cards that I grimaced over during the second color layer. By orienting them differently, I suddenly saw topographies, foliage and tree bark. Such a surprise -- one that will be fodder for me as I plan my next big print. I might not send out all of these cards, but each one is a guide to what the layering of color can achieve.
How are you shaking things up in your creative life? What will your "something completely different" teach you?