© 2020 by Alison Darrow.

A new direction, a new block

March 3, 2016

I’ve been working on a new direction for awhile now, mostly in my head. My two stabs at painting this year have been unsatisfactory, but truthfully I’ve never been all that happy with my works on canvas – they always seem flat and dead to me. Before I stopped painting years ago, I was experimenting with transparent substrates (as described in my February 15 post) but stopped because of questions about their archival survival. One of the rare blessings of taking a decades-long break from arting is that myriad new materials have become available. One of them, a polyester sheet called Dura-lar, promises to be the holy grail I sought back then: a tough, transparent, and archival substrate. A few artists are using it; I’ve got me some and am experimenting with small pieces, just testing media on it so far for adhesion and transparency… and also methods of application. I’ve painted and drawn on it, just blocks of color for now, and tomorrow (when I’m sure it’s thoroughly dry) I’m going to experiment with scratching through the color as if it were on scratchboard, painting on the back side, overpainting, stenciling, and block printing.



Which led to making this little block, my first in many years.



It’s not actually cut from linoleum; I used a softer material called Speedy Cut (a Speedballproduct). I bought this piece many years ago because I’d developed a bad habit of cutting towards myself, and because linoleum is somewhat stiff and tough to cut, the cutter jumped now and again, and my hands were always cut up! But I never used it, and it’s now a bit crumbly compared with a linoleum block – not sure whether that’s the way it always is, or a result of long neglect, but I’ll try the pink variety next time, which is reputed to be a bit harder. The block is roughly 3 x 5 inches; I probably won’t use it as a stand-alone piece because the draftsmanship is a bit rough. Instead, I plan to integrate it as a repeated decorative/symbolic element. Here’s a print I pulled to check how well the ink will transfer.



So far, so good. I like the clumsiness of it – looks sort of medieval to me, so maybe I’ll work on some peasants next. (I also like the fact that you can't tell for sure if it's suppoed to be a cabbage or a rose.) Next up, multicolor experiments, scratching, overpainting, maybe cutting a stencil from a print… ain’t we got fun?



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