I made "The Woods" as a final project of a class I took at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts. It was printed on a sine press using three linoleum blocks on the front, and wood and metal type on the back. I used black and red rubber based ink. I?m not sure what kind of paper I used, it was just some stuff that was lying about the shop. The first edition of "The Woods" was about 17 copies. I am now working on the second edition, which will run approximately 42 copies.
I had been reading Frank Miller?s "Sin City" comics, and wanted to try something in that same black or white style. I had recently learned about printmaking and wanted to use that too. The two ideas complimented each other really well. The very distinct positive and negative shapes in the style I was inspired by loaned itself perfectly to printmaking.
When I started drawing and then carving out the blocks I had a lot of fun being completely out of my comfort zone. I had to really think about whatever I drew, because I needed to make sure that all the shapes would be identifiable and the images would be clear. As someone who does most of his drawing in line, this was a challenge. Having to then draw everything backwards onto the blocks for printmaking made everything extra challenging. It was quite frustrating when after I began to carve the first block I realized I had to throw the whole thing out and start over because I had carved the thing the right way, rather than backwards the way it needed to be for printing. Printing itself was also challenging. Like I said before, the paper I used was just stuff that was handy and free. Unfortunately it was also too short. There was enough space for the print, but not enough room to anchor the paper when I printed. So all the prints in the first edition are slightly different, because all the paper placement was completely eyeballed.
The inspiration for this piece came one morning when I was walking to school in the bitter snowy cold. I was thinking about it, and decided that I really would prefer to not go to school at all, but stay home and do all the things that I wanted to do. I made a comic about the frustration I have that all the responsibility I have seems to be either boring, unpleasant, or both. I wanted to show how frustrated and sad that makes me every day. I knew I wanted to show myself in the situation that the idea first came to me in, walking to school on a snowy morning. I then realized the similarities between my idea and the Robert Frost poem; "Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening". The poem perfectly fit the sentiment that I wanted to give. The idea of someone so close to just giving up on all his responsibilities and "entering the woods", but still, reluctantly, soldiers on. I chose to use the last lines of the poem, because I think they sum that up perfectly. The idea of just dropping out of everything a spending all your time doing the thing you want to do, and ignoring all the things you have to do is a seductive one. The key is being strong enough to realize that the "promises to keep" you have need doing, and things can get better after you've done them. Hopefully.
(I wrote this in about ten minutes for a show, please excuse the horrible writing)