(Im)Perfection

branches linocut test print by samantha hirst

Lately I've been doing lots of test prints - testing out inks and papers, blocks old and new, taking time with registration (or not), and making prints without a plan. 

These test prints are all interesting in their way, showing me what works well and what doesn't; proving out some ideas and tossing others away. Some are beautiful, others less so, but what they all have in common are imperfections - small places where the block picks up ink that wasn't intended, areas where the ink wasn't transferred to the paper, strange registrations, etc. And yet, I like these. I'm finding beauty in these imperfections.

The branches print above is from a drawing of real branches from a tree in our old backyard, and when I first printed it, I wanted to redraw it - make the branches fill in the empty spaces, or make things just ever so more perfect. And then I remembered this quote about Wabi-Sabi which I recently saved from Darling:

"Wabi-Sabi is a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. It is a beauty of things modest and humble. It is a beauty of things unconventional." (Leonard Koren in Wabi-Sabit for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers)

And so I will leave this print as it is - trusting that the small imperfections I see are the very things that make it beautiful.