"Inhale" linocut print
18×18 inches linocut print with archival printmaking ink on Japanese Gampi Smooth Paper
Breath is life, breath is rejuvenation, breath is grounding. Sometimes all we can do is just breathe to make it through to the next moment. Sometimes breathing can lift us out of a difficult place. When someone brings their attention to their breath, they are being attentive to their body, to the present moment and being. Breathing a form of renewal and fills us with new energy. In these works, I use the action of flying birds to give the impression of air drawn in and expelled out, expansion and contraction symbolizing life, grounded presence, and rejuvenation.
I hope that this work can provide space for meditation or contemplation. The circular pattern created by the repeating print references mandalas and the rich spiritual and ritual cultures surrounding them. I hope that these prints create space for contemplation, compassion, and self-awareness. In the midst of chaos we can breathe, center, and find renewal.
Each print is created using a triangular block of carved lino, printed six times. It was quite a process to get the placement and size of the birds just right! I wanted the block to fit with itself in a way where the spacing between the birds was neither too close nor too far apart, and be aesthetically pleasing as a full circle.
I started with watching videos of waxwings in flight and pausing at intervals to make drawings on card stock. I then took these drawings, cut out individual birds that I liked, and arranged them in a pattern on a paper cut into an equilateral triangle, using general templates I made to guide placement and flow. Once I had a triangle I thought would work, I would photocopy that triangle six times, then cut out the triangles and taped them together as a mock up. At this point I would analyze what I liked/didn’t like about the overall composition, and go back and rearrange the birds on the original triangle and repeat.
For printing this work I created a special jig to hold my paper and block in place. On sealed MDF I drew paper guidelines and a hexagon divided into six equilateral triangles the size of my lino block. With each new section printed, the block would rotate to the next triangle with the same corner toward the center. The paper was held in place by Ternes Burton registration pins. (Including this for curious printmakers, if you don’t know what that is, don’t worry, it just holds the print in place)
So in all, each finished print is the result of a whole bunch of drawings, hours of arranging, some math, prep, and six times going through the printing process (inking, placing block/paper in place, then burnishing).
And at the end of it all I took a deep breath.