With the Casterton Rotary Club taking over the annual art show held during the Kelpie Muster weekend, there were additional categories to enter – not just Kelpies, as gorgeous as they are. I decided to try my hand at a portrait, in the theme of ‘True Blue’. Not sure what it is about me that I continually challenge myself, but it is certainly a way to learn.
I chose to do a portrait of an Aboriginal man, for me the epitome of ‘True Blue’. Reference photo at hand, and the basics transferred from sketch to lino block, I dove in. I wanted muted colours that were also reminiscent of the Aussie landscape. I also wanted a less ‘solid’ effect than I normally do in a reduction print. It was the essence, the ‘Spirit’ of the man, the People, and the land I yearned to depict…somehow.
Pulling prints by hand (i.e. without the aid and pressure of an etching press) always entails a degree of mystery. Questions hurtle through my mind as I work. Will it turn out the way I want? Will it be acceptable as a print? Will the blasted ink stick properly to the paper? Have I used too much medium, added too much white to pale-down the colour? How much Cobalt drier do I add to hurry the drying process, and not have the ink drying on glass or block? It’s all part of the process and delving into the joy of creating a print purely by hand.
Printing an edition of only four prints, there is not a lot of leeway for disasters. Still, I only really needed a single print to enter into the show. Am I happy with the final result? Yes, but, as always, there are things I would do differently next time, lessons learned, and new questions to which I will puzzle out the answers, during the next printing session. No, it was not chosen as the ‘Best Portrait’, but it was considered as a possibility. Good enough for me. Though, maybe I’ll enter a Kelpie next year. I do like those dogs.