Last week I ran a proof for a new print inspired by the Sir Gawain and Green Knight narrative. Initially the print was going to be a multi plate affair, a technique I thought I had mastered somewhat. But after multiple runs I became increasingly dissatisfied with the results ; The Green Knight proofs were consistent only in their inconsistency: the colors were not aligning , the ink was spotty and “snow-flaked”. I strive to achieve consistency when I run a series, something that was drilled into by my instructor Jim. So I decided to turn to a technique that Jim was less than enthusiastic about, pochoir, or more simply , stenciling . Jim felt it not quite printmaking in some way, and I can understand his resistance. Yet, with this technique I was able to accomplish what I was searching for , color, color that was within the defining lines of the image. A certain degree of wonkiness in printmaking can be desirable but what I was producing just looked like I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. This is the final artist’s proof of The Green Knight. He seems particularly suited to the winter holidays.
The Green Knight
pochoir-relief print on paper, artist’s proof
image size 8 by10″
The misalignment that frustrated me is apparent in this image.
I had far preferred the simple black and white print, yet he is the Green knight.
The pochoir process is satisfyingly craft oriented, I was able to utilize techniques and tools from my decorative painting career.
To now have a desk full of proofs is satisfying, I will run a series in the new year, brightening the green and using the darker buff. I am also going to utilize the pochoir technique when I run my recent print The Proposition. I hope to produce prints that are more vibrant AND aligned in the future . At the same time cutting back on production headaches as cutting stencils is far easier than cutting lino. My only new year resolution is to actually make and hopefully sell some prints, pochoir-relief prints may be the answer. Until next time, be well.
Just made what is most likely the final cuts to this plate for a new print The Green Knight. It will be a two color print, green of course , but for now, a satisfying image. Now off to tend to the beasties.
Given that Saint Patrick’s Day is just around the corner and that I happen to be in the throes of attempting to read as many translations of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight as I can, this still-wet painting/drawing seemed fit to post.
The Green Knight
graphite and watercolor on paper
11 by 11″
As I mentioned I am on a Romantic frenzy with an emphasis on Gawain and the Green Knight. So far the Simon Armitage translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight seems the most expressive and easily holds one’s attention, it is a real page turner. Thankful to Clive Hicks-Jenkins for introducing me to it.
What I love most is Armitage’s almost erotic description of the beastly yet seductive Green Knight. He is clearly a monstrous sight, green of flesh, massive and brutish; yet beautiful, well built and splendidly attired. A radiant greenish-golden yellow glow,save for the flaming red of his eyes, permeates his being. I was seduced immediately. Hence the image.
In my readings I have come upon numerous interpretations of who or what the Green Knight is. Some have understood his unholy skin color to represent death; some believe he is the devil, yet others believe he is a Greenman or the Greenman’s cousin the wodewose. I want to believe he is not anything particularly malevolent but instead an old god, full of contradictions, light and dark, “good” and “evil”. The complicated duality that the chivalric court of Arthur found so difficult to comprehend with its rigid codes of behavior.
I have attempted to fit all of Gawains future into the blanket of the Green Knight’s equally green horse. There is the unholy beheading challenge, the castle/sanctuary of Sir Bertilak ( the Green Knight’s alter ego), the seductive Queen with her charming bosom, and finally the Green Chapel. The Green Knight and his horse are a writing pulsating tangle of vegetation.
Right now I am reading the latest Penguin translation and next I plan to see what Tolkien thought of this grand tale. The following image, which thankfully I did not see until just a moment ago for fear of undue influence, is from an original manuscript-it’s pretty splendid.
Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!