August 27, 2020
The object that I best feel represents myself is an octopus. I've always been fascinated by the creatures; the way they move, almost gliding over the bottom of the sea, is mesmerizing. I wanted the octopus to be the main focal point of my piece, with the main challenge to myself being "creating a sense of depth with the tentacles via printmaking." Since my final print will only be black and white, I need to create depth in the octopus with my shading, so I looked to this engraved Zippo lighter I had as my reference for how to carve the shading for the octopus. 
September 1, 2020
Using my Zippo as my first inspiration for the pose, I drew out a couple sketches for how I wanted to lay the octopus out in the scene. I also knew that I wanted to include astral and moon imagery because I'm a very night oriented person and being outside in the dead of the night with the light of the moon shining upon me is one of my favorite experiences. 
Instead of drawing the octopus with its tentacles wrapped around the moon like I had originally planned, I ended up with making the octopus appear almost as a shadow on the moon, which created more visual depth. I also added other circles to represent the moon in its other phases besides the ones where it's crescent shaped. In the bottom left I plan on using another circular shading technique to give the illusion that it's the sun casting a warm glow over the crescent moon and partially lighting up the octopus as well.
September 3, 2020
Today I focused on refining my sketch, inking all the heavy lines that I knew I wanted to be cut out for sure. By inking those lines too, I am now able to sketch out more of the detail that I want to carve out in the linoleum. I sketch this part in pencil because I don't plan on tracing it onto the linoleum, just using it as a reference for when I am actually carving. I also mirrored the image so that the octopus is facing to the right on the linoleum, which means my final print will have the octopus facing left. I'm still not sure how I will pattern the background but I plan on deciding once I have engraved the rest of the octopus and the different moons first.
September 8, 2020
I worked on finishing up my sketch, getting at least a general idea of where I wanted to carve details into the octopus. When I was happy with the sketch, I transferred my sketch to the linoleum and started to carve. This was my first time carving linoleum, and at first it was challenging trying to find the right amount of pressure to apply so my gouge didn't go too deep and wasn't too surface level that it would slip out of the linoleum and slice across the surface. I had this issue a few times, but luckily, since I wasn't pressing too forcefully, the gouge didn't damage the linoleum when it did so. I also found the shelf liner to be extremely helpful in keeping my linoleum secure as I was carving. I found that for the more precisely detailed areas it was better for me to sit so I had better control with my elbows resting on the table as I cute a fine line.
After carving the outlines for the celestial bodies surrounding the octopus, I focused my attention for the rest of the night on carving the octopus properly because I want it to be the main focus of this piece. I chose to draw an octopus because my favorite art piece that I made in high school depicted an octopus holding a rusted anchor at the bottom of the sea. To me, the octopus is the creature that represents me the best because each of the eight tentacles of the octopus can be performing a different function at the same time. This is similar to how I have a wide variety of materials and skill-sets that I apply to my art pieces. I try to make each art piece unique in its own way, and having the ability to create my art in a variety of mediums is fundamental to creating a unique user experience each time.
September 9, 2020
To finish up my carving before printing it, my final challenge was to figure out the design I wanted for the celestial objects. They needed to complement the octopus, without stealing too much attention from the focal point. The four moons lined up vertically are representative of the different cycles of the moon. This also shows the progression of time throughout the piece, from the new moon at the start to the full moon at the end. 
As I was carving the moon that the octopus is enclosed in, I decided to alter my plan. Instead of fully carving the surface of the moon so it remains white, I left the surface flat so that I could potentially come in with a second accent color, such as blood red, or sunset orange. This accent color would add a significant amount of contrast to this piece, and would definitely focus the attention of the viewer on the octopus in the middle. The circle surrounded by moons in the bottom corner would also be made the same color to reinforce continuity within the piece and to visually balance the octopus as well.
September 10, 2020
I haven't done a printmaking project since high school, and it felt refreshing feeling the familiar resistance when spinning the handle as the press clamps down on the linoleum. My first couple prints were quite successful, with dark black areas effectively conveying space and contrasting the moon and celestial objects. My next step after this is to take one of my better prints and to paint the sun behind the octopus red, along with the central circle off to the bottom left. I think adding this accent color would liven up this piece and really help draw all the attention to the octopus, which I am very pleased with how it came out!
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