Dahlia daydreams and a little bit of printmaking

dahlias by ephpyle

If you’re addicted to looking at flower photography on instagram like I am, you’ll know it’s still dahlia season. (See #dahliaseason.)  My own garden dahlias disappointed me this year. I picked up the plants at a local garden center without paying much attention to the variety and I ended up with these short, mottled white and magenta flowers.(above) They still look pretty enough, but I found the high contrast of bright pink and white together a bit jarring and I didn’t like the way they looked with other flowers.

dahlias of 2014 by ephpyle

In past years, I’ve grown softer pink and yellow dahlias, like these flowers from 2014 (above and below).

bright dahlia by ephpyle

So, I’m already dreaming about what I’m going to plant next year. So far, I’m thinking about ‘café au lait’, ‘apple blossom’, or some type of pompon dahlias like ‘Eveline’, all pictued below. (Photos are not mine – they’re from wikimedia commons, details and links at the end of this post.) If you have any particular favorite dahlia varieties to recommend for growing next year, I’m all ears.

My daydreams also led me to make some dahlia-inspired white line wood cuts.

dahlia white line print by ephpyle

Clearly, pink dahlias have been on my mind. I wanted these prints to be softly colored but now, when I look at them in comparison to photos of real dahlias, they look positively washed out and I’m not sure what I want… Other than to grow more and different dahlias next summer.

dahlia white line print 2 by ephpyle

Photo credits for dahlias I’ve never grown:

Cafe au lait dahlia:  Mark Twyning (Marktee1) via wikimedia commons

Dahlia ‘apple blossom’ : Mark Twyning (Marktee1) via wikimedia commons

Dahlia “eveline’ : Mark Twyning (Marktee1) via wikimedia commons

New white line print: Succulent garden

white line print and block I’ve just finished a new white line print and I feel like I’m finally starting to get the hang of thie printing technique. I posted last summer about taking a white line printing class. Since then, I’ve been dabbling away at printing, but my efforts have been invigorated by joining a white line print maker’s group organized by Amy McGregor-Radin and my summer instructor, Lisa Houck. I am thrilled and grateful to be a part of this wonderful group of makers and artists. For my latest print, I went to my favorite iphone app, instagram, for inspiration. (If you’ve been reading this blog for long you know that I love instagram in a way that borders on unhealthy.) I picked a photo of my succulent planter. IMG_0711 Looking back at the photo now, after spending so much time working on its facsimilie, I feel both surprised and a little disappointed. I had thought it a better photo the first time around. white line print - succulent 1 I won’t go into details of the printing process, since (1) I am hardly an expert (2) I’ve already posted a rough outline of the process here and (3) I am already thinking ahead to the next one. While I love the soft washes of color, I’m already planning what to do differently for my next print. But that’s the creative process, isn’t it?! Always thinking, planning, making, and moving on.

White line wood cuts

 

1st.print.2.finished

Despite living in a city with an exceptionally high concentration of institutions of higher learning, I never mange to squeeze in any type of continuing education class. Usually, school schedules, family life, and general inertia get in the way. So it was a treat when, earlier this week, I attended a workshop on white line wood cuts offered through the Massachusetts College of Art and Design.

What is a white line wood cut? As I quickly learned, the white line wood cut is a visual arts chimera – part print, part painting. A woodcut printed with hand-painted watercolors, the white line woodcut was invented by Blanche Lazzell in the early 1900’s and it remains the only printing technique invented in the United States.

Led by the talented Lisa Houck, a painter, mosaic maker, white line woodcut artist and maker of many beautiful things. (visit her blog here), my classmates and I learned the basic steps of the white line wood cut.

Since I am hardly an expert, I will refrain from offering specific instructions. The basic steps can be found here, though if you get the chance to take a class, do! (Especially if you can take a class with Lisa.)

Instead, I’ll say my white line wood cut workshop was a delight. Not only did I learn a new technique, I thoroughly enjoyed the camaraderie and uninterrupted creative time. Most of all I learned that I clearly need to get out and make things more often.

Below are the two prints I created during the workshop. Its still a bit hard for me to look at them and not think of all the things I could have or should have done differently… the expression “an hour to learn a lifetime to master” comes to mind. I’m not sure I’ll ever reach a level of mastery, but I hope I’ll find the time to make some more white line wood cuts.

white line prints