Making photogravures in the bush

Athletes talk about flow; about being in the zone, losing oneself in the moment, being perfectly in sync with one’s activity. I’m no athlete, that’s for sure, but I spend quite a good deal of time in yoga and meditation hoping for flow, trying to relax into it: sometimes I can, sometimes not. But I found it again this weekend making photogravures out in the bush at Baldessin Press. Something about the absorbing rhythms of testing, inking and proofing are both deeply engaging and deeply relaxing to me. And it can’t have hurt to be in such a beautiful, special place: a bluestone studio in the bush, the energy of other artists at work, insight into techniques that spark my imagination. It was such a joy to be a student again. It’s been a long time since I’ve made anything without a preconceptions about the result or pressures to be done by a certain time or to please a client. This is something I struggle with as someone who runs a creative business, albeit a part-time micro-business. How not to smother the joy in making things with my anxieties about pleasing others, paying the rent, getting the job done on time? 

It made me think too about my own workshops, and whether or not I focus too much on the students completing their projects at the expense of their experimenting with the process. I’m not sure. What I do know is that it was helpful to have the experience of learning something for the first time again, an experience I’ll remember the next time I teach.  

The weekend was also filled with memories: of the long, hot summer months Holly and I spent working on our book, of the formative time I spent at Yolla Bolly (where I had my first glimpses into a magical book-making life), the distinctive smell of ink and processing polymer plates. But it also brought back memories of myself when I was new to all this, how inspired I was, how motivated to follow every lead, to find out everything I could possibly could about anything print-related. I remember being mad at myself that I didn’t discover letterpress until I was twenty-five years old. All those wasted years before! This past weekend revived that person, in both the enthusiasm and the pre-emptive anxiety. Nearly thirty-eight, and I didn’t know about this? Life really is far too short. 

Silvi is a wonderful teacher, and she and the rest of the Baldessin co-op (Tess, Rob and Lloyd) make the press a very welcoming place. (See lunch above.) I made and proofed six plates, all of which I was happy with, which was remarkable really. After Silvi’s Photoshop tutorial, it became patently clear that I was blessed with significantly good dumb luck, given my ham-fisted handling of my images files. I plan to test this dumb luck again in the very near future.


are you really nearly 38?

and wow

Posted by E-Dub on 28 January 2009 @ 8pm

Sounds like a perfect weekend! I’m sure that life, at any age, is is full of learning opportunities if you can manage to keep your eyes and ears and mind open to the possibilities.

Posted by di on 29 January 2009 @ 12pm

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