Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Little House linocuts

This past weekend, Sean and I took a linocut workshop at the great Open Studio in Toronto (www.openstudio.on.ca). We explored the use of coloured inks through a reduction printing process which involves carving the block and printing the image, then carving some more and printing again with a different colour. Nevertheless, our talented instructor, Pamela Dodds (www.pameladodds.net), makes beautiful use of exclusively black ink in her own work, some of which was on display in the Open Studio gallery. As an avid reader and lover of movies, I've been trying to find new ways, apart from writing criticism, to interpret the texts and films that interest me. This workshop occasioned an opportunity to begin what I intend to be a series of prints based on Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books. I'll use both image and text on each print - a pairing that elucidates themes that attract me. Above is a version of Pa's rifle, which he hangs on posts above the door of the house. These days, guns are principally seen as violent and dangerous, but for settlers they represented comfort, safety, survival, and prosperity. And they weren't necessarily used indiscriminately. When I amend the prints at home, I'll include the following, handwritten quote: "There was plenty of meat in the house, so he did not take his gun." The Little House books make more grey the human relationship to nature that, in this day and age of social infrastructure and supermarket shopping, we tend to observe reductively, from a distance, as entirely black and white.