Strange Fruit: a Mayan Alternative to the Passion

I am in my second semester of printmaking and frankly it has been disheartening. The exhilaration of the first few prints, successful or not, has been eclipsed by technical problems, some seemingly insurmountable . I recently finished a labor intensive, time sucking reduction relief print, a technique in which one linoleum plate is used, and each color is ultimately scraped away for the next. Engineering the color seqquence was daunting enough, but I think I was able to resolve that issue; but  by my final press, down to final color, a sepia, the finished result was disastrous .

I was taken aback by my visceral disappointment to the final image, I frankly had to walk away. I still have not have had the will to face the sad pile of wasted paper, ink, time, effort and optimism; spring break ends Sunday, perhaps I will face my demons on Tuesday.

In the mean time I am determined to avoid that sad route, eliminating reduction reliefs with individual plates for each color. This was my initial instinct but the assignment demanded the one plate approach.

The following, the first printing thus far, is the line work. The second plate, most likely red, is still being carved out. I post this unfinished print as it is appropriate to Good Friday, a day of sacrifice and reflection, frankly my favorite holiday of the christian calendar . This image which is one I have explored several times is that moment in which the Maize God,  the savior character from the Popol huh,is discovered by the princess of the Underworld Xquic. This fateful encounter results in a miraculous virgin birth, the severed head of the Miaze god spits into the open hand of the virgin princess (subtle Freudian imagery). Clearly I am fascinated by this twist of our familiar Christian sacrifice & rebirth theme . 


Strange Fruit

relief print, ink on paper

Some sketches prior to cutting:

IMG_3831Wishing all a happy Easter if so inclined, certainly happy spring Sunday.

Take care,


Author: babylonbaroque

I am a painter and printmaker working towards creating a body of work that reflects my own developing aesthetic. New work ,first link. The second link is an on-line portfolio.

22 thoughts on “Strange Fruit: a Mayan Alternative to the Passion”

  1. All of life is a learning curve. Certainly that holds true for artistic endeavors, even more so when actually trying something new. Keep your expectations open and you might be surprised! At any rate, don’t be too hard on yourself, my friend. xoxo

  2. i love how there seems almost to be no end to him, and i love the horns, and that great big toe 😀
    you have a fantastic style to these…i’m sorry if the other one didn’t work out, but you’ve obviously overcome!

  3. Reduction-cutting is all very well as a technique, and you will have learned from your failure. But I can’t help thinking that it’s a bugger of a process to get under your belt, and were I your teacher I’d be encouraging you to become confident exploring simple two and three colour blocks before setting a bloody hard task that would be fairly daunting to quite a lot of experienced print-makers. And to what end? The people looking at a lino-print in a gallery won’t care two hoots whether it was made with a reduction-block. or printed from three or more separate blocks! All the mastering of clever techniques doesn’t make for better work. Such things should really be the province of the experienced print-maker who wants to work that way. I’m all for teaching the theory, but I’d leave leave the practice until much later. Just saying!

    Don’t be daunted. Get back to basics because that’s the way you’ll learn. Cutting fast and with energy, simplifying everything and thoroughly exploring inking and printing pressures.

      1. Clive is indeed the best teacher.
        Pressure is a bear but I thought you meant emotional pressure. But yes, actual pressure is crucial and difficult to master. Part of the problem with the ill-fated reduction relief was pressure that was too high. Speaking of alternative pressure, a fellow student, when unable to access a proper press, utilizes his car; that seems to be a particularly southern Californian solution.

      2. apparently it works though I KNOW I would screw it up, I can barely back out of my driveway.

    1. I’m happy to hear what you said. I started doubting myself, as if I were resisting the rigors of craft for cheap effect. I don’t actually believe that, I tend to persevere in the face of a difficulty task, but this seemed particularly daunting, and unnecessary. The print above, has another plate at the ready; I am heading off to class shortly, very eager to see how everything aligns. The good news is if one plate is off, all is not lost; with reduction relief you are just screwed.
      I have been cutting fast and with pleasure, over the weekend I cut a plate of blessed Kevin and his Blackbird, very eager to see the result. I think it might be charming, so far it seems very Teutonic, a hermitage in the forest-perhaps I am dreaming of our move to Portland!

      1. Yes, Oregon, 2014, very eager-although BOTH Portlands are wonderful,I love Maine madly.
        Will post Kevin as soon as it ready, I think it will be a pleasant print, probably needs more cutting, but the first printing will reveal what I need to do. I’m eager as well. Thank you Zoe for your kind support!

      2. well, congratulations on your move! i am jealous, i hear lovely things about portland and we’ve been planning a trip there.. rachel brice, my favorite dancer in the world, has a studio there, you should see her, she is amazing!

      3. Well I’m eager to look into her work, Portland seems to value the arts , a fine opera company , equally fine orchestra and a wonderful public classical station . It feels like home , plus big vegan community and all the artisanal meats my caveman husband could imagine . We are both thrilled. Visiting again in May.

    1. Eager to check this out when I return from class- You Tube is frowned upon in the classroom 🙂

    2. Oh yes, I do remember this as well; my spouse will love this, very much up his alley. I confess I am a Philistine concerning most of dance, but even I am thrilled by this. Thanks again.

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