This was the inspiration for the print: a very fast sketch of an elderly Chinese gentleman I met on the metro:
Below is the developed drawing from which I did the print. I actually like it better than the print, for its softness, and the lower contrast. Technically the print is better than the last one I did. I'm learning things, and that's good, and was the point of this latest exercise.
A fault of mine: I always tend to hurry, because I never have enough time for all the things I need or want to do. I can often feel this hurriedness in my body, and then I know I need to slow down, relax, take some deep breaths, and do one thing at a time. It's not tension, per se, it's just an inner sense of rushing. In printmaking, rushing can be fatal because one slip can ruin the whole block. You can also cut yourself badly! When pulling the print by hand, you have to prepare the oil-based ink properly, watch what you're doing when you ink the block, and then rub the back of the rice paper deliberately, carefully, and thoroughly to get a good impression, but not so hard as to break the delicate paper fibers. So I enjoyed the process of carving the block and making the prints: slowing down, breathing, cutting with energy but care. I'd like to become good at this, it's a wonderful and satisfying artistic process, right through all the steps, and well-suited to a graphic designer like myself.
As I worked, I thought about the man I'd drawn originally, his quiet calm manner, and the kindliness and wisdom in his old eyes. And he reminded me of Lao Tzu, who then reminded me: "Nature does not hurry, but everything is accomplished."