In my seasonal rhythm of working the time for watercolor collage is again in ascendency. I began though, not with collage but with printmaking, specifically block printing or stamping that grew to include collage.
I have been attracted by the shape of the wildflower, mullein, that grows along the railroad track in my area. These wild plants are found almost exclusively along the railroad because they are mowed down by cutting crews along the roadsides or weeded from our yards during their summer growth period. I have painted them growing from their emergence in the late spring through their yellow blooms in the summer.
Last year in the fall I was taking an early morning walk along the railroad track beside my studio just as the sun was topping the mountains but before its strength had dried the dew. I was astonished to see that the tall, skinny, dried mullein plants were festooned with webs of the orb spider, heavy and drooping with glistening drops of dew. I just had to add this reality to my mullein depictions. I would make block prints and watercolor them as I had in the summer.
Mullein along the Rail Road Tracks, block print, watercolor, 42×15″, private collection
Village, July, oil on canvas, 48×36″
I am so excited about the development of my new “Mullein” piece that I want to share my journey . I began with the design of the linoleum blocks for printing. As in image no. 1 above, I designed and cut several blocks and combined them in different ways to create mullein plants of different shapes and sizes. Then I water colored three different versions.
The issue at this point was how to depict the spider webs. Immediately I decided not to print or paint. In the first I sewed the web pattern with metallic thread and pearls; in the second I negatively painted around the web design and sewed the metallic thread and a few pearls on the painting. In the third (long horizontal) I scoured the paper with a blade in a more or less accurate reflection of the spider web patten. I painted around the scouring then sewed an approximate pattern with metallic thread and pearls over the scared paper.
No result satisfied me. How to treat the final vertical print above? The big breakthrough came at this point and I have been working to execute my vision since then. I will finally finish in the next few days–keep posted!