ESCAPE FROM TOMLAND
Escape from Tomland is the visual narrative of the struggle of trying to leave an abusive relationship. The main subject in red is running through a vast snow-covered valley, meant to represent the cold self-isolation that many individuals in abusive relationships inadvertently create around themselves. The wolf chasing her symbolizes the fear, toxicity, and consuming control from her abuser. She runs, as if running for her life, though the woods as she approaches a chasm. On the other side, an allegorical figure representing both emotional and physical Safety reaches out to catch her. In an all out sprint, she summons the courage to vault towards her escape. She thinks she's made it, but as her fingers brush against Safety's, the wolf catches up. He lunges at her, snagging the fabric on her elbow and pulling her back in. She looks back in shock and terror into the wolf's eyes as she sees her glimpse at freedom disappear. Behind the wolf, she sees the trail of mangled bodies of the ones before her who didn't make it out and promises herself she will not become one of them. She will continue to fight until she is free.
Because I knew I wanted this to be a highly emotional piece, I knew that the expressions on my subjects' faces and in the movement of their bodies would be the centerpiece of this print. And because I knew I wanted it to be a print (for its stark graphic style and story-like feeling) where the composition would be flipped once completed, I decided it would be best to first draw the entire composition on a separate sheet in the layout and design I wanted the final print to look instead of drawing directly onto the linoleum. I wanted to keep the colors simple and highly contrasting, so I decided on red and black ink on white paper (I drew the original drawing on brown because it is easier for me to work with, but the final prints would all be on single tone white paper).
With the base drawing complete, I began the process of transferring my design to the linoleum. With this level of detail, I needed a very precise transfer method, so that eliminated projecting a photo of my original drawing. I decided to try a variation of the graphite rub process, but in a way that would convey all the little details that really made my piece. I flipped the paper over and positioned a flexible-neck lamp underneath my glass drafting table so that the light shone through the paper, revealing the lines I had made on the reverse side. I then drew back over the drawing so that I would be able to see it clearly from the back side when I placed it over the linoleum. Once I had covered the entire drawing, I moved it onto the sheet of linoleum (face down) and drew over it one last time using a 4B pencil with constant, heavy pressure in order to rub off the original graphite on the front of the drawing onto the linoleum. This created a light, highly detailed inverse outline of my original drawing.
For the wide open (white on the print) negative space in the carving, I used a variety of wide mouth printmaking tools to clear the linoleum as efficiently as possible. For the delicate details, I quickly learned that generic printmaking tools could not get a clean enough line, so I switched to an exact-o knife. I carved directly perpendicular to the linoleum's surface, cutting an outline of the positive space I wanted to leave behind, and then came back through and popped the excess linoleum out using the back of the blade or a flat blade printmaking tool.
Carving the red linoleum plate was a lot more clearing space than the black plate because I only wanted to use the red as bright focal points (the girl's hair, face & clothing, blood, and the wolf's eye). I first began this process with easy-cut linoleum because I thought regular linoleum would require too much work to clear so much of the surface. However, since the easy-cut was so rubbery and flexible, it was hard to get it to hold a clean line, which destroyed all the details I wanted to preserve. So I started over with a piece of regular linoleum and was much happier with the line quality.
First attempt with easy-cut linoleum
Photos of the finished prints to come! I am waiting to get the linoleum photographed before I roll ink onto it because I like the tactile feeling of the linoleum in case I choose to leave it as its own piece