Buck’s process starts by doing just this – slowing down. He’ll be driving down the road and something will catch his eye and he’ll pull over and stop to investigate. He’s in the habit of always carrying a 5×7 Moleskin notebook with him for these exact moments. By now, he’s got shoe boxes full of these notebooks, which go onto inspire larger prints. “My best work is probably in these notebooks,” he jokes.
If he’s going to create a painting, Buck will often interact directly with the landscape by putting down a cloth over rock or other natural formation and painting over it to transfer the texture of the surface. For printmaking, he begins with the initial sketch from his notebook and then creates a matrix for the design.
For those who are unfamiliar with printmaking and how it works, it involves transferring images from a matrix (a template usually made of wood, metal, or glass) onto another surface, most often paper or fabric. Traditional printmaking techniques include woodcut, etching, engraving, and lithography. The design is created on the matrix by working its flat surface with tools or chemicals. Then, the matrix is inked and transferred onto the desired surface, using pressure via a printing press or by hand.
“Printmaking is like doing the dishes,” says Buck, “but more fun.” In the process, the artist is always cleaning and wiping away the ink. It’s as much about what you remove as what you leave behind. In this case, you want your dishes to be a little dirty. One of the things he loves most about working in the medium is the element of surprise. You never know what you’re going to get until you pull the print off. There’s the anticipation and a moment of reveal.