Alan Smith Printmaking

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what a clown sees

My own entry into the Dark Art Society sketchbook project is titled What A Clown Sees. This was a fun print to work out. What A Clown Sees was originally conceived of as a whole scene with the character brushing his teeth against a more demonic sort of reflection in the mirror and was titled The Reflection. The character’s arm was holding a cartoony red toothbrush and the sink was visible as well with other areas of the page taken up by chunks of solid black.

When I began working this out for the sketchbook project I found myself slowly scrapping  the detail and with it most of the black. I came down to a pretty minimalist maybe abstract kind of concept. My first color scheme for this new concept was a reflection in flesh tones against a light blue rectangle to represent a bathroom mirror. The background to that version was a solid yellow block of color. That was the version I initially intended to include, but messing around in photoshop I pieced together a little bit of background for a second version (there’s now a third version taking place at night with stars in the sky mainly done in violets and yellows). Honestly I couldn’t decide which of the first two versions to use, so the majority vote between friends and family polled was to go with the blue sky version for the book.

I would have been happy with either version, but one friend said that the blue sky and hills provide a bit more abstract environment helping to bring it together for the viewer. I do like the blue / green / pink interactions here and having such a colorful piece in chunks of color might help it to stand out. And as much as I love the yellow and flesh sort of version (which you’ll see in time) including something with more environment will probably spark more narrative in the viewers mind. There is something about the surreal yet serene landscape juxtaposed against a disemobodied ghoulish cartoon face that does something especially dark art for me.

Still, something about the emotion or energy expressed by the yellow background and flesh tones is just so different and appealing to me for entirely different reasons. But that is how I want it to be: that each color version in an edition invoke or convey some almost completely different feeling or perception or energy with the viewer.

Here are two color build videos for What A Clown Sees. One is closer up while the other a more full shot of the sketch book. I’ll get some progress posts up here in the coming days explaining my process.

Next I’ll make slight edits to a few of the blocks then edition out the different versions sometime in the near future.

 

 

 

 

upcoming updates

As I make progress I’ll get updates posted on some projects I’m working on lately.

Those include a submission to the Emerald Print Exchange which is put on annually by Whitaker Printmakers and Print Arts Northwest. You can read about the Emerald exchange and see my past submissions along with the whole catalogue of years here.    

 I will once again be submitting work to the Relief Conspiracy print exchange. This has been put together in recent years by the talented printmaker and educator Scott Minzy. Seeing Scott’s use of the tapered line, and with regards to cylindrical shapes in particular, was a huge motivator in my pursuing a better grasp of and ability to represent shape and depth with my own work.

In the past few days I have completed my submission to the Dark Art Society sketchbook project. At some point a website for the sketchbook will be made public, but at the time of this writing we have an instagram account set up for eventual updates. The sketchbooks are going out to nearly 80 members of the DAS who will add their contributions. Once all is said and done the plan seems to be auctioning the books off (there are three total) to raise funds for the Dark Art Society. And I’ll tell you now, from what I saw in the only handful of pages filled out before the book I’m contributing to reached me, this is going to be worth every cent.

finished revolver #2

Here is verison #2 which I think of as the standard or baseline for this image. I suppose because it was the first color scheme I settled on before exploring alternates and likely because he comes out looking more “human” than some of the more what I would call colorful versions.

finished revolver #1

Here is the first in a variable edition of Revolver.

Over the coming days I’ll post the rest of the edition before I go through them for quality control before finally signing and numbering what I decide to keep. I always see room for improvement in my work, but am very happy with the way these turned out. I used up to ten blocks per version, I think the number was.

Revolver took so many blocks due to a need for swapping out colors for a number of isolated areas which would have been a nightmare to print from a single block.

 

revolver comparison shot

Tomorrow I will begin posting up photos for the completed Revolver edition. In the meantime I wanted to share a comparison between a carve I did in the same veign as Revolver matched up against the version I settled on. The final version came after a bit of studying the human figure from online tutorials. I hadn’t ever really sat down to do this foundational work and, as you can see below, doing so has quickly and vastly improved my work.

For my birthday a close friend bought me a replica human skull to study from. This has also been an enormous benefit as I finally work on aspects of art that I should have focused on years ago. Suddenly the face and head are making so much sense to me as are other aspects of the human figure.

new studio / new home

Well,

hello from my new studio / home! 

I am now all moved in to a large attic room which is split between a bedroom and a printmaking studio. This space is quite large. I have my bed, a small couch to kick back on, my Conrad printing press, and a line of tables along a wall where I can readily work on various projects.

I feel quite pleased with the new setup as I was previously crammed into a smaller space which lacked any real elbow room. At my former location I only had space for a single smallish table, so there was a lot of cycling through items when I wanted to work on different projects. I could only take a break to relax on my bed or computer chair which was not ideal, so  having this little couch next to my bed is pretty slick.

There was also limited space for the press at my previous location, so I would have to roll it into the middle of the room each use and it was physically difficult, albeit doable, to navigate and work from such tight quarters. Being spread out with everything readily accessible, including a stationary and accessible location for the press, should be a huge boost to my whole operation. I even have a specific area next to the press for my glass plate to roll out ink, how cool is that.

stay tuned for more updates…

weird little nude figure

Today I’ve got this strange little naked figure.

This print comes from a notebook sketch when I was practicing different aspects of the human figure. I carved this sketch up into a woodblock and thought it might be fun to add some color layers. I think this is interesting and slightly strange enough to use for something, but I have to decide exactly what. In the meantime take a gander below…

 

the revolver continues

Last night after work I began printing with the intention of only laying down a violet/pink split roll across the night sky of seven prints from the edition. Instead I finished those then decided to mix up a dark grey to lay over a lighter grey printed earlier in the week. At the end of the night I had printed out seventy passes through the press in total. I’m not sure how often that is going to happen, but it sure is nice to know how hard I can crank them out if I need or want to in the future.

And here we are heading into a fresh new weekend…

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Alan Smith Printmaking