Challenge Accepted! June Edition Part 1

So we’ve made it to Day 19 of our June Challenge.  Time to tip our hands on at least part of our challenge work so far.

Our very own bees

For my lino print, I started with a simple sketch of a honeybee with random honey comb. I have an arguably (not so) strange attraction to honeybees. At least four generations of my dad’s family have kept hives of domesticated bees, successfully introduced wild swarms into built apiaries, and collected jars of honey and comb.  I’ve spent many summer evenings in lawn chairs situated just behind and off to the side of hives watching the straggler workers return home, their rear legs heavy with pollen deposits, as the hive slowly settled down into a composite fuzz of a social collective.  As long as we brought their sugar water early enough in the morning and sat quietly at night, they didn’t mind the audience. Our honey tasted of sourwood and clover and the comb was candy. We don’t collect as much honey these days, in spite of mite strips and other remedies, but I would gladly give beekeeping a shot again once I had my own land. In the meantime, I’ll make prints.

Outlined with SharpieI started from a simple sketch and transferred it as best I could, under the advisement of the patient and noble Professor Staci, to the linoleum square by poking holes in the main lines of the sketch and then tracing the sketch with a Sharpie marker in such a manner that the ink bled through the pinholes to lightly stipulate the image on the lino. I have always enjoyed the entomological/anatomical look as a science fantasy throwback to pulp era. Could I pin bugs? Not sure. But I like their lines, segments, and symmetry. I always remind myself, though, that “Organisms vary.” So my bee giving the viewer the stink eye is just an expression of the variance in heritable traits that allow for Darwinian natural selection. Right? Right.

Free-handed Honeycomb!As always, my personal hang up is making the first mark. Or in this case, the first cut with the lino tool. But after I chilled and channeled a bit of the Huber Farms Starlight White provided by the generous and wise Professor Dez, I got to carving. And, wow, I didn’t realize how physically rewarding this project would be. Once I got into a rhythm, I figured this could be an extremely effective destressor. I randomly threw in some honeycomb that kind of reminded me of organic chemical rings.

Artist's ProofThe most exciting and tangibly rewarding part of the night was no doubt the printing process. It was neat to roll the ink, coat the print and then use additional physical force to transfer the image. Despite the fact that it was midnight on a work night, I couldn’t keep the smile off my face. I really liked how my print turned out and the process my friends taught me to get there.

I enjoyed this printing technique so much that I hope to develop it into a skill. As a preview of the June Challenge Part 2, I plan to continue my Honeybee series, with a print of an empty lawn chair situated to the side and behind an apiary. This print will involve lots more carving so that the lines of the picture are black and the background light. I have an initial sketch but need to work on the composition/perspective type things that I have no clue about. Luckily, my husband lent me his copy of How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way, which I am thrilled to check out and touched that he offered. I’ll keep you posted on my progress!

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