Winter Geraniums 18x24 Monotype with Pastel on Rives BFK paper
Back in the 70's, as soon as the leaves began to turn, my grandparents drove from New England to Florida to escape the pending cold that might strain my grandfather's partially removed lung. My grandmother shuffled all her pots of geraniums into their sunporch, and during the snowy winter, my parents checked on the house and watered the flowers till my grand parents returned in the Spring. I loved walking into this room full of sun and my grandmother's painted wicker chairs - to smell the pungent scent of geraniums in bloom while the ground was still crunchy with snow and frost in March and April.
Pulling the print on the press bed. It was dry by the next day, and the pastels (nupastel, berol, stabillo and rembrandt) released beautifully to the paper, whether it was inked in layers or thin washes.
The dawn of printing was at hand. Manuscripts, whether handsomely embellished, or copied simply without ornament, were expensive luxuries which only the rich could purchase. With the revival of learning, for students in general, for the poorer classes, for school children, cheap books costing as little as possible but serving the same end as the manuscript were necessary, and the xylograph came at its hour. (It should be mentioned that block books are now considered by some authorities to have come later than the invention of printing with movable type - ie about 1460 )
From the earliest times, copyists had used stamps, and copper stencillings in order to apply initials that recurred frequently - a practice which contains in it the first germ of printing. Playing cards were printed by the same process, and afterwards illuminated. Picture books came next, with text and illustrations cut on the same block - the leaves being printed on one side only, and afterwards, gummed back to back. Such was the book known as the Biblia Pauperum, 'Figurae typicae veteris atque antitypicae novi testament' - a short pictorial history in forty leaves of the Old and New Testament. Another of these block books is devoted to the history of St John the Evangelist and his apocalyptic dreams, of which there are six different editions with texts in Flemish, Saxon and German. The Ars Moriendi, or temptations of the dying, with terrifying pictures, shows a moribund man assailed by devils, but as in all similar productions, the terrible is relieved by a touch of the grotesque. The Speculum humane salvation's is remarkable for being printed partly from blocks, and partly with movable characters. This shows the transition from xylography to printing proper. The printer of this work, in order to economise the composition of twenty seven leaves, used the blocks he possessed, and printed them together with twenty seven others, composed with movable type.
~Early Woodcut Initials, by Oscar Jennings 1908