Thursday, December 8, 2016

"The Monongahela at Morgantown" by Blanche Lazzell

I consider autumn to be the most beautiful time of year. Cool and crisp, yes, but most of all it is the rust-colored foliage set against the blue beyond that captures my attention. I feel I am flying over a world set in balance.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Sketchbook Sunday: Nautilus Shell Collaborations

I often print extra copies of my woodcuts and linocuts for my kids to color. I have a bunch of extra nautilus shell linocuts I've printed to practice drawing the protagonists in my new book project. Here's a couple I let my daughters finish.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Nautilus and Ammonite: First Encounter

The next finished illustrations for the Nautilus and the Ammonite book project. It is here that the young, twin sisters of the sea meet for the first time. 

The nautilus and the ammonite
     Were launched in friendly strife,
Each sent to float in its tiny boat
     On the wide, wide sea of life. 

Monday, November 28, 2016

Holiday Sale of Cats A-Z and Owl and Cat in Love

Now through December 23rd I'm selling signed copies of Cats A-Z and Owl and Cat In Love at discounted prices plus free shipping within the United States!

Links to my online store:
Cats A-Z $16.95 $15
Owl and Cat In Love  $20 $18 

If you prefer not to buy through Etsy, you can also contact me directly with the subject line "Book Order."

There are also lots of affordable original art for sale on my Etsy store.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Sketchbook Sundays: Thoreau and a Beaver

This week I had my kids finish a couple sketches I started, with interesting results.

The first was a sketch of Henry David Thoreau. I started it as an example for a student who wanted advice on drawing portraits. Thoreau was particularly on my mind since I recently watched a play about his night spent in prison for civil disobedience, and I've been re-reading passages in Walden. My youngest daughter basically made him up like a clown or perhaps this is a cross between Thoreau and Dr. Frank-N-Furter of Rocky Horror Picture Show fame. Either way it seems a fitting enough way as any to bring the ol' free-thinking Transcendentalist into the contemporary world.

The second sketch was also from something old and deceased - a decades-old taxidermy Beaver found at the Wagner Free Institute of Science. My older daughter seemed inspired by Care Bears, as the Beaver now has a colorful pair of hearts on his tummy.

There is no escape from pop culture. It consumes us.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Highlights from [Baren] Exchange #69

These are two prints from the [Baren] Forum's print exchange #69. The theme and style were open and the paper size was 10" x 15". There were 15 participants, and while all were a joy to receive, I felt compelled to pair these two together with my personal reflections. They were in no way created by the artists to be a pair, but I cannot help but imagine them that way. (Incidentally, I will also almost certainly frame and display them together somewhere in my home.) 

The first is Rough Draft by Theresa Martin, and the second is Still Life with Books and Glasses by Brad Ladwig. In one the author (or artist) himself is steeped in contemplation of his own words (or perhaps imagery). It is the transition between the time for free flow of artistic expression and putting on one's editor cap. 

The second image seems to be the other side of the desk. There are manuscripts, but they are closed. The glasses have been removed; they and the books are resting during the in-between time as much as their owner. The difference is that in the portrait, while the creator is still, he is engulfed in fire. Everything in and around him - the stripes in his shirt, the shadows of his hand and face - flickers. What moves in his mind transcends mere thinking. But the setting before him is fixed and serene, patient in their waiting for him to act. 

After the transition is complete there will be a reliving of powerful moments, wondering at the imagination of the muse, but that will be alongside the wincing at troublesome areas and the dreaded killing of one's darlings. 

Friday, November 25, 2016


Both 4" x 4" woodcut stamps, printing with black oil-based ink on Bristol paper and hand-colored with watercolors.

The term "totem" has taken on a number of meanings that depart from the original Ojibwe, in which they refer to sacred symbols that represent a particular tribe. Nowadays many Westerners have come to regard totems as personal, spiritual guides, often symbolized by a particular animal. The broader interpretations and usages are perhaps most colorfully exhibited by Cirque du Soleil's use of "Totem" as title of their show that employs music, dance, acrobatics, and elaborate costumes and settings to connect themes in human evolution to multicultural creation stories.

Over the last couple years two babies were born to a good friend of mine, and I created small, square prints (Year of the Goat and Monkey and Scorpion) to celebrate their entry into the world. However, these two lucky boys have two older siblings, a big brother and sister, who I was not fortunate enough to know when they were born, but I have since had the honor of meeting in person.

The two prints featured here are for them. As in the first two prints, these "totems" attempt to creatively combine their Western and Eastern astrological signs. However, as they are for two older children who have already seen a number of seasons, formed strong, unique personalities, and have looked me in the eyes, I felt compelled to focus on faces, or perhaps masks, for this imagery. We are all so much more than a laundry list of our abilities and experiences. Totems can represent that greater wholeness.

“A great fire burns within me, but no one stops to warm themselves at it, and passers-by only see a wisp of smoke” -Vincent Van Gogh