I took a brief break from working on my “Eagle” drawing to carve up this gift for a friend of the family. This will officially be my last carving. Although I really enjoyed doing these, over the last year my enthusiasm has waned and my focus has been more on my drawing, which is what I want to be known for. To add to making this decision was the challenge of getting the materials.
I don’t keep carving materials on hand due to space hence the need for ordering which I only do when I get a request or whenever I feel like doing carving project.
Originally this gift was supposed to be a 12×12 mandala. Michael’s nor Amazon carry 12×12 linoleum blocks so I have to order them from a wholesaler. So I put my order in but after 2 1/2 weeks of being in the dark on my order for the materials from the wholesaler, I ended up having to cancel and make different arrangements. Apparently they didn’t have the supplies but wouldn’t bother to let me know that. At this point I had to inform my customer, who had already put in a down payment on the project. Fortunately she was flexible and chose as a second option the “Peace, Harmony & Love ” design of Chinese characters I had on file. I was relieved because I hate to disappoint people and plus I knew I could easily go to Michael’s and pick up supplies. So I went to Michael’s the next day. They were out. 😖 Talk about immediate frustration. So I checked Amazon. One 5×7 linoleum block on Amazon cost twice as much as it did at my local Michael’s store. It was ridiculous. Luckily the Michael’s website had access to the inventory to all Michael’s within a 50 mile radius of my zip code. So online I was able to find a Michael’s that had the supplies I needed. It was a 30 minute drive away. I was able to get the blocks but it was on my drive back that I realized I didn’t have enough enthusiasm or interest anymore to go through this kind of ordeal again just to do a carving. So that’s when I decided that this would be the last one. And frankly, I’m happy about my decision because honestly my heart is in drawing and that’s what I want to focus my energy and attention on. 😌
With “Antelope Spirits” now complete I’m ready to get back to drawing now. Currently I don’t have anything specific in mind, I just know I want to curl up on my couch with my mechanical pencil and a sketchbook and see what comes out. Along with wanting to get back to scribbling on some paper I’ve also been tossing around the idea of doing another little art zine, this time filled with well drawn out sketches and maybe even adding in some prose or micro stories. I’ve done one once before a few years back which you can glimpse a few pages of down below.
Zines (short for magazine) are a neat DIY way of self publishing. If you have a printer, a stapler and some paper you can pretty much create your own zine. And they’re pretty fun to make if you have the patience to put one together. I can see myself doing a few more in the future but for now the idea I have in mind will probably be a long term project, so in the meantime I have some sketching, writing and planning to do. 😊
Some of the most delightful things in life happen without a plan.
I’m not one for planning much. Growing up I used to hear adults talk about how you need a plan for your life, otherwise you’ll just wander and accomplish nothing. So I tried to make plans for me life. Eventually I would either forget them as soon as I figured them out, run into something that would cause me to change course or find myself feeling rather stifled by what now feels more like a restraint than an actual plan. I eventually came to the conclusion that planning was over rated. Having a plan doesn’t guarantee success in life nor does it guarantee failure if you don’t have one. I feel that so long as you have a general idea or direction you want to go in you’re good and you can just figure out the details along the way. But I get it, not everybody can live like that.
To me, not steering the course of your life too strictly allows room for delightful little things to happen along the way that can lead to new and exciting things or much needed personal growth. If you look at nature there’s no detailed plan for the course of life. Seeds fall where they may, vegetation springs up wherever it can and the cycle of life flows continually in the general direction towards that which brings about living.
So I’ve been most frustrated with this stamp carving lately. I’ve been finding myself lacking in ideas and feeling disappointed in the progress of my skills. But today, without planning to, I just sat down and started carving. I had nothing in mind and at first I felt a little apprehensive. I did something small, a lotus blossom, then an OM symbol, a figure in a meditation pose and then three hours later I looked up and saw that I had also craved some cherry blossoms and Chinese characters. I guess my mind had sunk back into the recesses of former designs I had done before and found comfort in tackling something I was already familiar with. What transpired came to fit neatly with my Hummingbird stamp and an interesting layout formed. Being nitpicky as I am, I see that I’m gonna need to redo the Chinese characters and the cherry blossoms but for something that happened completely unexpectedly I like how this came together. 😊
I’m used to being the kind of person who can get the hang of something by the third try. As of today, I see I’m going to have to throw that thought out the window with this stamp carving. So far I’ve mutilated somewhere between 20-25 erasers and my carvings are still not up to par with say my linocut carvings, which are now proving to be much easier. These designs I create look deceptively simple when drawn out in paper but once I transfer them to the eraser they can turn out to be somewhat of a pain when it comes to carving them.
Now don’t get my grumbling wrong, I’m a trooper and sticking with it and working through this journey of creative growth, although I now can clearly understand why some artists just go out and buy the stamps. This stuff ain’t easy. But you really can’t beat the satisfaction of creating your own unique designs, so I’m gonna keep marching on. 😊
Well, I’ve picked up my carving tools again after a year away from it all. This time instead of focusing on carving finished pieces, I’ve spent the last three days YouTubing block printing and stamp carving. Initially I was thinking about creating stamps I could make for handmade greeting cards but now I’m also thinking about doing carved pieces for mini prints done on art cards. I’m sticking with my overall theme of keeping things small and manageable, hence mini prints.
In the process of all this I stumbled down a rabbit hole into DIY eraser carving and discovered carving with an x-acto knife. I tried this out for myself and I have to say this was pretty challenging at first and had almost chucked my x-acto knife but something said don’t give up, plus I was a bit jealous at the relative ease others were having with it and I wanted the same. After four hours of YouTubing someone finally mentioned keeping the blade at a 45 degree angle and everything completely changed. That little tidbit opened the door to much smoother, cleaner and faster carving with an x-acto knife compared to using just my lino cutter.
Another handy little thing I’ve been introduced to is ink pads. Typically these are used for rubber stamping in scrapbooking and card making but since I’ll be making mini carvings no larger than the size of a baseball card, ink pads would work great for inking art card prints instead having to deal with tubes of ink, a brayer and finding something to spread the ink on. I’m all for keeping things convenient and neat if it’s something that gets the job done. Plus the ink pad I’m using by Ranger is acid free, permanent and waterproof which is very close to ideal for me since I want my mini prints to last.
In the meanwhile I’m still inking away on “See You”. I’m halfway done and it’s coming along nicely but I’m also taking my time. I want this to be a really good piece. 😊