Saturday, December 10, 2016

Reduction Woodcut, Recalcitrant Snipe, Leftovers, Trump's Greatest Sin

Killdeer and Great Blue Heron. Partially completed reduction woodcut by Ken Januski.

I guess one of the benefits of writing posts so infrequently these days is that I can ramble all over the place in terms of subjects covered. Thus the title.

My most recent artwork is the reduction woodcut above, based on one of numerous sightings of Killdeer and Great Blue Heron in the Manayunk Canal over the last few winters. I'm moving along more speedily than normal on this one, spending less time in endless deliberation about what to do next. I think one or at most two colors are still left and I plan that they will just be in a few small areas.

Wilson's Snipe and Greater Yellowlegs at Ottawa NWR. Watercolor by Ken Januski.

I say 'recalcitrant' snipe in the title because I keep going back to these snipe seen at Ottawa NWR a number of years ago in the hopes of getting a painting, print, drawing I'm happy with. Above is the newest effort, I think 11x17 or something like that. It's the biggest watercolor I've done in a while.

Wilson's Snipe and Greater Yellowlegs at Ottawa NWR. Acrylic Painting by Ken Januski.

Next is an acrylic painting, actually smaller than the watercolor, that I painted then repainted a number of years ago. It seems like such a great subject and yet I'm not completely happy with any of my attempts. I've also done numerous pen and ink and watercolor studies along the way. So we shall see. Sometimes it almost seems like you need to exorcise a subject. I do think eventually that I'll get a good print out of this subject.

Chipping Sparrow in Pines. Brush Painting by Ken Januski.

When I print I always tear large sheets of printmaking paper to size. And always there are small leftover strips of good paper. I've never known what to do with them so they just accumulate. Recently I ordered a new Chinese brush, ink stick and grinding stone from Oriental Art Supply. I realized that this leftover paper might be just the ticket for experimenting with the new brush and ink. So after about 5-6 horrible failures I ended up with this passable brush painting of a Chipping Sparrow in a pine tree. One reason I wanted a better quality ink stick was so that I could get richer blacks. As you can see there are at least one or two here.

'Tula' salvia in backyard. Photo by Ken Januski.

I haven't written anything on Trump and the election so far. I'm not completely shocked by the results. The white working class has been effectively abandoned by Democrats for years. There's also a sense of moral superiority in many Democrats that I think fuels a resentment of them, a resentment Trump was all too happy to take advantage of. But what of Trump? To a certain extent I agree with both Obama and Clinton in the idea of at least giving him a chance.

But for all of his faults, and everyone except the blind know that they are legion, there is one that I think will do more harm than anything else: his lack of civility, respect for others, and respect for truth, all willingly jettisoned by him. As he said to the Wall Street Journal when questioned about whether he'd gone too far in some of his statements he said: "No, I won!"

Most Americans know that the presidency is more than just a matter of winning. It's not a football game, or a backstreet brawl, though I suppose it has been in the distant past. But in an age where there is already far too much ranting, too much eager willingness to  not even consider the other side, Trump sets the worst possible precedent. Anything and everything is legitimate as long as you win. History will decide I fear that this is his very worst legacy.

I should add, as others have, that he might actually be successful. History never unfolds as predicted. But I'll still never forgive him for his utter degradation of the process.

And, to end on a happier note, the last photo  is of 'Tula' Mexican Sage, almost always the last flower blooming in our garden, even in December. We buy this plant at about 12 inches tall every few years, then watch it grow and grow until November without flowering. And then finally in a race against a hard frost it starts to bloom. Each day we wonder: will it be the last? Not so far.

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