Monday, December 01, 2014

From Provence to a Badger Part 2

So... where were we? We were in Provence, surrounded by trees and looking at a statue of a wild boar.

So what on Earth has this to do with a badger?

I have been planning an engraving of a badger for a couple of years but I haven't encountered one - alive - in the village. For me, the subject of a wildlife engraving is like an actor - it needs a stage. When I have encountered an owl hunting in a meadow, I can set it in the same location. My engraving "I Can See You Mister Hare" showed a real hare that I had been watching in a barley field. The badger in my mind had nowhere to inhabit.

Back to Provence. I was sitting out on a cool terrace while the wedding was in full swing and I was drawn to the the effect of the moonlight on a line of trees. I started to engrave in my mind. The moon became a "Samuel Palmer" moon. You know - this sort of thing:

In front of the trees, I imagined some shrubs and a meadow and the stage was set for a badger to come ambling towards the viewer, hair glistening in the moonlight.

Later, back at home, I could start to make a drawing, working on powerful shoulders and level, fearless gaze:

I made a start with the engraving. You can see that I am not using wood but experimenting with Resingrave, an artificial substitute for boxwood. It isn't a material that I habitually use and I don't find it as pleasing as wood but I felt that it might suit the marks that I had in mind to make. In the end, I was very happy with the results of this experiment.

Printing turned out to be one of those rare moments that we dream about. I inked the block and pulled a proof but there was a smudge in the corner so I inked and pulled again and there it was. Nothing needed to be done to this and the first state was also the final state; I could make a start on the edition, using a very smooth version of my usual Zerkall paper.

Within a few days, "Moonlitt Ambling" was framed and hanging in my exhibition at The Old Fire Engine House in Ely:

... and here it is:

"Moonlit Ambling"      100 x 75 mm.      Edition of 100

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This engraving is now available on my website as well as from my Etsy online store.