Posts Tagged ‘line’

woodford spiral flow

December 18, 2013






Woodford Folk Festival is a major event on the summer calendar here in SE Queensland and I am currently on the festival site as a volunteer with the set up crew.  As I said, this isn’t a small festival, and there are 200-300 people working on site, most of them volunteers, over a period of several weeks.  The site is extensive and pleasingly complex, with hills and valleys, creeks and forests, along with the proliferating array of tents, marques and other temporary structures being built. There is lots happening, lots of bustle, lots of busy people doing all sorts of things.  There is fun and socialising too, and with many of the volunteers having skills as musicians, artists, dancers, firetwirlers and jugglers and who knows what else, there is quite a creative atmosphere with plenty of interesting spontaneous things going on.  So, one day when I managed to have a bit of quite time by myself in amongst all of this, I decided to create something in this lovely little creek-line that I pass on my way to my shifts in the workers kitchen.  A small bridge crosses the little creek, giving a nice view of the small pool nestled at the base of a large tree, and that seemed like the right place to highlight with some bright red leaves from a Blue Quandong tree at the back of the kitchen.  It began as a line, which wound it’s serpentine way amongst the stones and reached the gravel bank and became a spiral.  This was the order of creation, but looking at the finished work, this was clearly working backwards, the leaves telling me to seek back to the source.  So this piece is about beginings, about creation, about order and design loosing it’s constraints as it interacts with the environment and follows a natural pathway of flow as it’s energy is distributed and dissapated.

some thoughts on black line

January 5, 2010

Some time back now, I wrote about beginning work on some wood engravings. That has still been going on, I just haven’t been writing about it here. Indeed my approach to engraving underwent something of a rapid evolution during the year from my first beginners attempts at mimicking traditional forms, to working in a way related to my own drawing style. This has led to a lot of “black line” style prints. That is an image that is made up predominately of thin black lines like an ink drawing, rather than the image being created from white lines on a black background. Why the distinction? You have to remember that I’m talking here about a form of relief print taken from carved wood, so creating thin black lines requires carving away all the spaces between the lines, a rather more tedious process than thinking of an image in terms of white marks on a black ground.

Peter McLean 'Phragmites' wood engraving, 2009

The following is something I wrote in my sketchbook some time back when I was thinking about this stuff.

On one level, these prints seek to reproduce an ink drawing.  On another level this reproduction is bound to fail.  This tension may be the essence of a black line relief print.  There are inherent binaries in these prints.  The line retains the fluidity and spontaneity of the ink drawing on the block, but in addition it has been given weight and solidity in the process of carving and printing.  I have spent time with every line.  I have had the opportunity to alter or erase as I slowly move the burin across the wood.  Every line has been given consideration and certainty.  The gestural has been balanced by the solidity of physical form in hard wood.  The instinctive has become emphatic.  Each line says “I am here and could not be anywhere else”.

Peter McLean, untitled, wood engraving, 2009

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