This week’s Life Book lesson was taken by Jessica Swift. The idea was to explore visual contrasts and dualities through having “shadow and light” pages that mirrored each other. The creative element was the instruction for us to carve our own stamps and to use these in our piece. I had kept some decent sized chunks of lino from block printing and also had some circular discs of soft carve so I set about carving a few stamps. This is something I have been meaning to do for a while now so it was great to have this lesson give me the impetus to crack on with it. I carved a circular pattern into the disc and fashioned a shape that could be a leaf or feather out of one lino scrap. I had two smaller lino scraps that I turned into a trio of curved shapes and a trio of triangles.
In the video tutorial, Swift had used the stamps to create a border for each of her pages – using contrasting inks – and had then written in the centre of each page. I am not big into writing in my art, not even in my art journal, so I decided to try using a lino block of a whale I had carved last year as if it was a stamp. I chose my colour palette based simply on the colours of block printing ink I had available that would provide good contrast. I could have gone black and white with the ink but I decided to go with blue and white so shades of blue acrylic paint then became the palette for my background page. I was short on time this week (I seem to write that phrase a lot) so I decided to actually work on one page split in half rather than on two pages, the smaller scale making it manageable.
Treating the whale block print like a stamp did not quite work. Although I applied pressure to it, I placed it down on the paper rather than vice versa as I would when block printing and I did not, therefore, use my baren. Clearly the pressure was uneven since the print quality is patchy – especially with the white version. The smaller stamps I carved worked a lot better presumably because I could apply more even pressure to them. I am not convinced this page turned out so well but carving my own stamps was fun and is something I shall try to do more of.