|Juvenile Ruby-throated Hummingbird on Yew. Two block woodcut by Ken Januski.|
Since I wanted to concentrate on the pose of the hummer and not much else a very small block seemed the right way to go. On the other hand I really don't want what you might call 'illusionism.' I see so, so much of this, much of it helped along, if you want to call it that, by Photoshop. What I prefer is something that is still recognizable but that will never be mistaken for a photo, even one with all sorts of PS filters and special effects applied.
So after I'd made a template of the field sketch of the hummer, modified it, copied it onto the woodblock, carved and proofed it I decided that I'd use the other side of the block to print some abstract shapes. This procedure is all very hit or miss. I printed the two greens over the last three days and then printed the black on top today. Unfortunately much of the dark green doesn't show up in the photo.
You might ask why I'd ruin a good drawing, or at least one I was happy with, by adding all these distracting abstract shapes. I can only say that it relates to my dislike of illusionism and also I think to a desire to be a bit more modern, a bit more of my time. I realize that this is a slippery slope. Hula hoops were of my time way back when but they're not much remembered now. So it's easy to be so much of your time that your work is not striking except for the briefest of times. On the other hand there is Beethoven, for instance, or many, many others, who created a new view of art, one that has held sway for hundreds of years afterwards.
I think art always tries to find a way to be fresh. And the reason it does so is that for some artists that's the only way to be expressive. Anything else, for these artists, may look like art to others but to them just seems clichéd and empty. I don't think everyone does or should work this way. And I can't say that it's always successful. But sometimes it really is the only fulfilling way to work.
I should add that I also have tried to stay true to the Ruby-throated Hummingbird in his portrayal here. I like being able to do that but also add some abstraction, or what some might call decoration, as I have done.
I think that this is done but there's a chance that I'll add one more color in the abstract areas. The print is about 7x7 inches and the image itself about 4x4. So far it is in an edition of nine. Printed with Daniel Smith water-based inks on Rives Heavyweight paper.