Frog

Here is an informal visual account (the first of many?) of an ongoing long term project.

I’m pretty proud of this frog – I use it from time to time as a logo. The thing that appeals most is that it rewards the viewer for a closer look. Can you notice anything else about it?

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Frog. 2015 42 × 30 cm. Woodcut printed from two blocks.

You might notice what looks like the outline of a continent or two. Would you believe that you could cut this thing out, and with some tape, and tucking the body and arms in, you’d have a passable globe?
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Here’s how this thing came about…

In 2007, I started a project.  A “globemaker” program that takes spherical imagery (think of a globe, or a spherical all-around panorama) and mathematically unwraps it, sort of like a digital version of peeling an orange. At Bridges 2009, I wrote and presented how I did it and explored many of these peelings. This particular peeling was a favourite of mine: a three-armed squiggle.

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A peeled globe.

Instead of debuting this design by posting a digital image to Flickr, I put it aside it in order to properly ‘elevate’ it – to do something more substantial and less transient with it.

Fast forward to 2013 or so and my son and I were getting into woodcut printing. The very kind of graphic artwork that M. C. Escher was a master in. And we were looking for interesting forms to carve and I so brought out the three-armed squiggle. A print-making coworker of mine, Matt Reynolds said it looked like a frog. What else to do then but have a look at some pictures of tree frogs, and then sketch some frog details over top

 

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My son Evan (7) and I were new to woodcuts and printmaking. We got a couple of hardwood end pieces from a stairway project I had done earlier. Evan designed and carved a pattern of waves onto the blue block, and I did the continents onto the black one.

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Evan carving waves into his block.
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The two carved blocks – ready for the first proofs

We did a run of 20 prints. Anyone who has embarked on printmaking won’t be surprised that not all of them turned out – embracing imperfection was a big part of this project. Still, enough prints were good enough to submit to the Bridges 2015 Mathematical Art gallery exhibit in Baltimore.

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A delightful epilogue to this Frog project was that I was able to connect with another cartographic print-maker. Amanda Johnson’s website Visual Amplitude is worth checking out. I especially like her Magma-Carta (of course).

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