Fuji Cherry, 20s
Paper Type: Rice Paper, Legion Mulberry White 38 [Utrecht #19118]
Paper Size: 9.75" x 13" [24.8cm x 33cm]
Image size: 4" x 5" [10.2cm x 12.7cm]
Edition Size: 50
Inks Used: Van Son Rubber-based Reflex Blue
Date: 20 Sep 2022
Production Notes: I scanned a Japanese postage stamp [1944 Scott #338, Fuji & Cherry Blossoms] and printed onto standard copy paper. With a hake brush, I coated the face with a dilute aqueous solution [1:10] of matte gel medium onto which I positioned a linoleum block [4" x 5"] (wood sealed with matte gel ). I cut away the white under a stereo dissecting microscope [Bausch & Lomb 13x], and printed as a collage with [1915 Scott #484, with overprint] applied with a glue stick to the lower right corner.
After I took early retirement at 47 due to AIDS (a deadly condition at the time), I suddenly had a lot of time on my hands. My whole life up to that time had been focussed on achieving knowledge through the pursuit of the scientific method. With what little time I had left (I thought) I wanted to explore the other side of my brain. The Art League offered classes in a couple of buildings on Montrose Boulevard in Houston, and one was a free outreach class taught by Patrick Palmer to men and women with HIV as a point of social contact in a safe environment. For our first printmaking project in April 1996 I wanted to enlarge Japanese postage stamps to fit the 4" x 5" linoleum blocks we had been given, and I chose the 1944 Mt. Fuji and Cherry, 10s orange design.
I found that I really loved the work. There was the transfer of the design, the carving of the block, and the printing on paper that came together for the final print. The block was a piece of art in itself, and I loved the actual printing as a sort of choreographed dance. Unlike painting or ceramics, I could always keep one of the prints for myself, and give away or sell the others. I was hooked.
By 2001 my craftsmanship had improved markedly, and I reissued the design with a finer cut, and editioned 50. It became a favorite at art sales and helped me establish a reputation for carefully executed prints at an affordable price. Most of the second edition has sold out, but I longed to pair the orange 10s with the rather more appealing blue 20s.
In 2017 I moved to San Miguel de Allende in the center of Mexico, and established my "Big Ant Studios" in the covered front courtyard. Over several years I did a couple of linocuts there, testing my proficiency in an increasingly more precise cutting. A full 21 years after the Orange 10s, I started cutting the blue 20s, my tiny scalpels honed to master-level production.
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