Finding myself in a somewhat impatient but creative mood, I decide that I just had to do a detailed bird portrait in oil. Picking up this previously worked board (since nothing else was available in that size), I rotated it 90 degrees and began drawing in pencil the shape and details of the Cassowary right over the top of the older work. When happy with the drawing, began laying on some paint. I used a somewhat stiff brush and very thin paint doing the eye first (as usual) then the beak and the 'horn (or shield - whatever it's called!). It was most enjoyable adding the textures and the wrinkled skin around the eye - I let it dry overnight and added another thin coat of brown on the eye the next day. Okay so far so good - next more of the same!
A few months ago we noticed that a Raptor show was coming to one of our local parks here in Maryland so on that weekend we went over to see what was happening. Very well attended, we had to park some way away then walk to where all the action was. There were about 6 or 7 falconers there giving talks or showing birds. Some sat on bow perches in a roped-off area, others were in boxes to be brought as necessary. I managed many photos and some of my watercolor sketches are below.
This Aplomado Falcon was lovely to look at and draw. She was flown a few times and was incredibly lithe in the air. Quick, long-winged and very agile swooping about the sky - wonderful to watch!
This Yellow-headed Vulture was another interesting bird and is just like our Turkey Vulture but is yellow on the head instead of being red. There were a number of owls too including Great-horned, Screech, Long-eared, European Eagle Owl and the star of the show - a beautiful well-marked female Snowy Owl. Hawks included Red-tailed and Harris Hawk plus there were plenty of others too. Inside in a soft-lined box was another surprise - 2 European Eagle Owl chicks! Incredibly cute and occasionally giving 'screesh' begging calls. It was too crowded in there to do any sketches so I did the above drawing at home in my studio later on. It was certainly a morning well spent and I now have plenty of sketches and photos to draw from for future work.
Eagle Owl Chick, graphite on Arches paper, 7" x 11". Red Boat sketchbook studies, 8" x 11" (approx).
Here is the signed White Tiger woodblock print from the first run. The image size is approx 5" x 6.5" (12cm x 17cm). Paper size is 6" x 8" (15cm x 20cm). The black and grey tones were printed using Speedball water-based inks, the blue using Cerulean Blue watercolor from Windsor and Newton. Paper is Kozo printing paper - a bit thin but acceptable. Please contact me if you want one of these prints.
This pic shows the just completed print run. I keep the slightly damp prints in this plastic folder as it helps stop them from drying out during printing. After the printing process is completed, I dry the prints sandwiched between sheets of mat board which absorbs most of the remaining moisture. Then they are stacked under a heavy book for a few days after which they are nice and flat.
Some of the prints laid out here before signing showing consistency through the print run. I'm sure that as I do more of these, my printing will get better with fewer mistakes - fortunately there were only a few rejects and I managed 15 clean prints ready for sale.
Incidentally, if you are purchasing woodblock prints, how can you tell if they are original or just a mechanically produced print? Best way is to turn the print over and view the back. It should look like the back of my print shown above. Notice how the pigment has been forced into the fibers of the paper - this is due to the pressure of the baren during the printing process. This effect will be less if thicker paper is used but you should still be able to see pigment from the back. Also in oblique light, there should be a slight impression in the paper from the rubbing pressure against the blocks. Most reputable online dealers will show an image of the back of the print along with the front.
Well, this has been quite a journey and one that I am very glad to have taken. I have learn so much and am eager to try more - I have quite a few ideas for larger woodblock prints but need to source some decent wood first. In the meantime my next posts will focus on some of the other things I have been working on.
I am an artist living and working near Washington DC in the USA. I was born in the UK but have lived abroad most of my life. I paint mostly landscapes and birds but have many interests so you never know what will turn up. Most of the paintings shown here are for sale so please contact me at jeremypearse (at) gmail.com if interested. Thanks for visiting!