Sunday, October 29, 2017

Inky Sheep, Stranded Sheep

The Lord sets a hard road for those He entrusts with a talent. But a hard road is easier with a friend. --Father Brown
A couple of weeks ago, I visited the local art gallery with a friend. It's a small gallery: just large enough for a nice show of work, but small enough so as not to be overwhelming. I only started visiting it recently, but I always enjoy myself seeing what people are doing, especially since all of the artists are local to me. You never know what dreams are lurking in your neighbour's head.

Anyway, while I was at the gallery, I sat down with the gallery magazine and flipped through the pages and found the workshop and classes section. There, I found a workshop entitled, "Woodblock Printing," and it was on the following weekend in the print shop at the gallery.

I've often walked past the print shop and longed to go in, but most of the beginner's classes tend to be during the weekdays and I usually can't make it. Years ago (decades ago!) I did some silk screen printing in a graphics class I took in high school, and ever since then, I've had a fascination with inks. As soon as I saw this workshop was available, I pulled out my cell phone and registered on the spot.

I spent the next few days trying to think of what I wanted to try to print, as I was supposed to bring "inspiration" along with me. I did some searching and finally settled on something with a sheep in it. It seemed like the thing to do.

We arrived at the class and sketched out our ideas on some newsprint:

And then we transferred it onto our wood blocks. Others did a transfer using pastel chalks, but  I decided to re-draw it freehand, which was a bit time-consuming:

And then, we all sat down and carved out our blocks. Mine took ages because of the detail, and everyone else was already printing away while I carved out the last few lines. I was really rushing at the end, and I was really, really worried that I was going to be disappointed with the result:

But I was absolutely thrilled with my first proof:

And I printed several more on the "good" paper to be sure:

I'm so proud of them. I would love to put one of those in a frame sometime, and I already have some plans to try another few prints with a wash of watercolour paint in the background. It feels good to have some creative fun.

I walked home through the trees and was mesmerized by all of the colours of the autumn leaves. We're having a spectacular autumn here... a mixture of rain and warm temperatures and sunshine is making even the most sanguine person stop and stare with the show:

It's as though all of the trees got together to give it their best shot before the winter comes:

Even the butternut squash soup I made yesterday seemed to be glowing with colour:

Meanwhile, I have been on a sheep-kick for the last few weeks. I have been playing around with the skeins of Jacob yarn I got while in the UK, and the most suitable projects for them seem to be sheep-related. I took this dishcloth pattern and decided to add some moss stitches around to mimic the crimp of sheep's fleece. I think I am going to make it into a cushion if I have enough yarn left to make the back. I'm very pleased with how nicely it blocked:

This sheep reminds me in particular of the spectacular Jacob rams, even though it doesn't quite have the horns on it:

I still have lots of yarn left, so I'm continuing with the sheep-thing by playing around with the stranded sheep from this pattern ("stranded sheep" always sound like sheep that missed a plane). The colour work is challenging, but I am really enjoying the results so far:

Meanwhile, I'm looking around for more opportunities to be around creative people. I so enjoyed being with the others during that workshop... I always do at these things. It's like we pass around a bowl of inspiration that we all get to sip from, and it breathes enough life into me to lift me up for the next few days. Maybe I'll go and hang around in the print shop until I spill enough ink on me to be considered a fellow printer... though it might be more reasonable for me to just go and hang around a flock of sheep. 

That's not a bad idea at all. Happy Sunday.

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