Beyond The Nine Waves

It is said that the early Celtic peoples of the British Isles and Ireland would from time to time have occasion to exile someone from the community. Many if not most of the settlements being coastal, the common practice was to set them adrift in a coracle or some other small vessel to float with the currents out of sight out to sea, to ‘beyond the nine waves’ which was considered to uncharted waters and unknown horrors.

For some reason, this practice has fascinated me for some time and I’ve for much of that time had the notion to try to make it the subject of a drawing, painting or print. The end goal of a print won out, at least to this point, and so last fall I put my mind to coming up with an image that I could render as a linoleum block print.  It took me quite a while to work out an image and to try to get a vision of a finished effort in my mind. Gradually I did, and then tried to figure out a colour scheme and how to actually make that colour scheme happen, if possible.

The result so far has been to make it a three block print with each being a reduction print.  This, in printing, will make for at least several variables that may not come together the way I envision. Add to that the fact that I had to transfer the image to the three blocks old school — by tracing from the same drawing — and the variables start multiplying. Then throw in how exact my carving / cutting the blocks  will end up and we are in let’s-not-even-think-about-it territory.  And that’s where I’m at now.

After taking weeks to be fairly sure of the image in my head, I psyched myself up and got cutting, taking each block to the point of its first printing, before it has to be reduced to carry on with its second printing and then third, and so on til finished.  And the other morning marked the finishing of that process as I cleaned up the ‘number 2’ block, which I cut last. It was the most time consuming.

If all goes well, I will start to print next week sometime. I’m hoping to do the first printing of each in succession as, until they are each registered and printed, I won’t know if this is going to work. With probably well over fifty hours of drawing, redrawing , tracing, and cutting — not to mention the planning and figuring and coming up with the image to begin with — I am hoping almost beyond hope that it will go reasonably and at least correctably well.  If not, then I’ve wasted time and effort and materials. But, like every other print I’ve done, that’s the way it always goes…….