Friday, June 05, 2015


I finally ran the edition of the wood engraving print, "Aye-Aye". This critter is part of my "Aliens of Planet Earth" series. Two main features that have intrigued me for some time are the large round eyes (it's nocturnal) and the incredibly long middle fingers (it pokes into things for food). This block took a little longer (about two and a half months) than most this size (5 X 7 in.) because I kept reaching points where I thought the block was complete, then I saw more that I could do. I kept picking at it, then running a proof and studying it and picking at it, then running a proof and studying it. I couldn't decide whether to remove the negative space completely, or leave it totally black. In order to make the decision to remove all the wood around the figure I needed to see it first. If I removed the wood in the negative space and it didn't work, I would be stuck with that. So, the answer was to shift from the nineteenth century to the twenty-first for a solution. I scanned it digitally and removed the negative space with Photoshop. Of course, I could have used a nineteenth century method and printed an extra proof, waited for the ink to dry and used white opaque paint to remove the black areas. But, by this time I was ready to bring it to a conclusion and tired of indecisions. As they say, either "do it", or get off the pot ("I" didn't say that "they" said that).

The removal of the black did not work as I studied the changed digital image. By then the day was over, so I shut things down and left the studio. The next morning, as I was waking up, without consciously thinking about it (and this happens often), I visualized the jungle surrounding Aye-Aye. There was Aye-Aye in the clutter of leaves and fronds and bushes of Madagascar. The next few days were spent delicately pulling a subtle jungle up from below and beyond Aye-Aye, Then proofing and pondering, proofing and pondering to make sure there was enough, but not too much. Remember, once the wood is removed it can't be put back. I reached the point where a proof showed it was where I wanted it to be and I ran the edition.

Now it was time to come up with a title. All the other "Aliens" have been given their actual names ("Blobfish", "Star-Nosed Mole" etc.) and I was tempted to add something to Aye-Aye's name. I came close to naming it Aye-Aye's Salute, or Aye-Aye Sir, but since the others in the series have their names only, without commentaries, I stuck with that.

Please, allow me to introduce: Aye-Aye:

No comments: