Sunday, December 27, 2015

"Sisters"

Woodcut
Black ink on Stonehenge paper with hand coloring with watercolors
4" x 4" (image)

The title of this piece is because it was created for the same cousin for whom I made First Hatched. She had her second little girl this year.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

"Hopping Down the Path"

White line woodcut (unique print)
Watercolors on 140 lb Canson watercolor paper
9" x 12" (image) 11" x 14" (paper)  

This is the latest print for the Dancing in the Garden series. I'm pleased with the composition for the boy character's solo. However, this first proof is printed in very bright colors, which evokes a cheerful mood, but it doesn't convey autumn enough for the book. I think I'll have to print it a few more times in various color palettes.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

"Behind the Fence"

White line woodcut (unique print)
Watercolors on 140 lb Canson watercolor paper
9" x 12" (image) 11" x 14" (paper)  

The imagery for this print was inspired by an event at the Wyck House last spring. The series of festivals held at Wyck were called "Behind the Fence", hence the title of this print. 

Saturday, December 12, 2015

"Violin Lesson"

"Music is my balance... center of my life." 
-Mandy Patinkin 

This is a white line woodcut print I made for my daughter's violin teacher. The image is approximately 5" x 7", watercolors printed on 120 lb. watercolor paper.


Thursday, December 3, 2015

Owl and Cat In Love is now for sale!

Announcing the release of Owl and Cat In Love! 

Edward Lear's nonsense poem "The Owl and the Pussycat" is the most familiar, published, and illustrated of all of the nineteenth-century, English artist's works.

This version is a wordless reimagining of Lear's poem through fine art woodcuts. While the imagery is inspired by Lear's text, it frequently presents unique interpretations and embellishments.  You can view all of the woodcuts from the series in this Pinterest album



The book is 10" x 10" Smythe sewn case bind (hardcover,) color offset printing, 40 pages plus printed end sheets. First edition of 500. Retail price of $20.00. 

Get a signed copy (FREE SHIPPING for US customers) by contacting me directly at marfknox (at) gmail (dot) com with the subject line "Cats A-Z."

Or purchase it online through my Etsy Shop (cheaper US shipping) or my Amazon Store.



Sunday, November 29, 2015

"Wonky Fence Walk" by Zoe Badger

Image posted with the permission of the artist. More of Zoe Badger's hand pressed linocuts can be viewed and purchased at her online store Zebedee Prints.

As I walk outdoors I am first aware of the temperature. The sweep of sunlight I watch wash across the fields is also taking the edge of the chilly air. Thoughts turn inward and as they drift they tug at the iron fence now more like a loopy thread of yarn.
Shadows in the foliage become shattered shapes that drift away from each other like bits of ice that have been cracked in a pretty pattern. I am not only moving forward, but in and out, one foot in the external world of my senses and the other in the conceptual wonderland of my mind.


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

"The Mimic" by Grace Martin Taylor

Bodies present
But their minds are
Somewhere else
Invisible strings
Made visible by
Time and motion
Of bodies, as they
Begin to slip
Beyond their
Containment
Beyond
Illusion



Sunday, November 22, 2015

"There Is A Tree" by Marti Richtmyer Nash

I recently discovered this gem of a picture book at a local nature center. It was published in 2007 and is illustrated with hand-colored woodcuts by Vermont printmaker Marti Richtmyer Nash.



The literal story is simply the sights and musings of a solitary, little boy exploring the great outdoors. As there is no strong narrative, it is really much more a series of beautiful fine art prints, enriched by light prose. 


What grabbed me the most about this book was the constantly changing perspectives in the imagery. For example, in two of the images we see the boy's shorts, legs, and feet, once from the perspective of someone standing on the ground looking up at him, then again from the boy's own point of view, looking down.

The tree of the title, and where the boy sits perched, is essential to the perspective. Because he is looking down or up or across from an already elevated position, and from a branch that itself might sway under the boy's weight and movements, it becomes difficult to work out the gravitational pull or light source in many of the images. All together I read them as flashes of almost overwhelming layers of moving texture. I could feel the breeze and the flicker of sunlight as it was refracted through the passing clouds.

At the end the boy comes down from the tree, the sun sets, and the artist offers a couple views of the green land under a beautiful, yet massive and somewhat turbulent sky. I feel the boy's esteem for nature's grandeur, and because I am once against seeing him from a distance, I feel a deeper sense of my own humility and awe.







Saturday, November 21, 2015

"Road of A Morning" by Gustave Baumann

I recently purchased a 2016 wall calendar. This is an important acquisition for me every year because I write all of my appointments on the wall calendar that hangs in my kitchen. I've tried to shift over to using my smart phone or Google calendar, and I simply can't do it. And anyway, needing a wall calendar is a wonderful opportunity to choose something that will become a monthly rotating work of art.

For 2016 I selected A Small, Untroubled World: The Art of Gustave Baumann, published by Pomegranate, a small publisher that focuses on fine art. I am absolutely thrilled with this purchase, not only because Baumann's woodcuts are masterful, but because this particular set of prints features my favorite color (orange) quite a bit.

Orange is especially striking when paired with blue, as in this stunning autumn landscape. As we march toward the end of November, more leaves have turned dull brown, now past the prime of their most brilliant pigmentation. So posting this image is an expression of my longing for what has just recently slipped away. My sad but fond farewell to what Camus called the "second spring" when "every leaf is a flower."

Dear friend
Walk down this road with me a while 
Who knows when we'll meet again 

Monday, November 16, 2015

"Monday Morning" by B. J. O. Nordfeldt

B. J. O. Nordfeldt (born in Sweden, but lived most of his life in the States) was another master of the white line (Provincetown) method of woodblock printmaking. There is an excellent writeup about him at the Michener Art Museum's website.

The white line runs the length of the hills and blue beyond and into the contours of the bullet-shaped flowers and woman in the floral patterned shirt and striped apron who stands over the girl clutching her doll, looking up at the woman whose black hair is tied in a tight bunt and whose graceful arms raise over her head like a dancer as she hangs linens on the line - the white line that leads into the white sheet and is lost.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

"The Joint Is Jumpin'" by Bill Evaul

Bill Evaul is a contemporary Provincetown (white line woodcut) printmaker whose works are full of movement and (often cheerful) personality. Check out his website here.

The lead singer's wail breaks through the turbulence, his red mouth open wide, his eyes shut tight. In this place we do not look. The glare is too bright, the colors too garish. The guitarist is turned toward the floor. The saxophone player wears shades. Here we only listen and move in time with the vibrations.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Hartmann Schedel's Locusts

These insects are large and can suddenly jump and glide a significant distance. One is perched on some leaf or blade of grass and suddenly it springs off, vanishing from sight. Many large insects frighten me, but these do not. I want to catch one, hold it in my hand, look closer at its bulging eyes that seem so alien yet friendly. I want to examine all the creases in its abdomen and striations in its wings. I imagine it is a tiny dragon. Time has slowed down, I am small, and the world is vast and wondrous once again.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

"Woman's Torso" by Sonia Romero

Image posted with the artist's permission. More about Sonia Romero's artwork can be found at her website. Prints and other original works of fine art can be purchased from her online store She Rides the Lion.

Although it bears many similarities, this isn't a wood or linoleum cut. The textured background is a collograph made with acrylic paint on mat board that is later inked up and printed. The red part is a papercut that has also been inked up and printed. Because of the delicate nature of the papercut layer, Sonia Romero only made a limited edition of 5.

Though this image seems direct in its subject and composition, the longer I stare at it, the more it seems a complex mass of contradictions. At first glance I saw an elegant floral design laid over an organic, female shape. But the longer I stare, the more I find myself meditating on the perfect symmetry and ultimately the platonic oddness of it. Faces, eyes, and teeth begin to pop in and out from the petals and leaves. I feel I have discovered a keyhole that peers into another realm. One more ordered and certainly beautiful, but still dangerous.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

"Des jardins du Trocadéro l'automne", Henri Rivière

It has rained and I am bent over on a park bench feeling the caress of a cool breeze and listening to my own heartbeat.

The leaves have turned brown. Yesterday they were still lemon yellow, juicy orange, apple red. It is a strange and delicious dissolution.

They fall so gently. Float, really. Sometimes even twirl. It seems a happy dance, though they all end up on the same damp ground. There they will soon crumble, coalesce with more ancient soil, and feed the fruit of another day.

Friday, November 6, 2015

"Under the Sky" by Coco Berkman

Image posted with the artist's permission. More about the artist and her works can be found on her website and her online store StageFortPress.

I fell in love with Coco Berkman's work (her color reduction linocuts in particular) last year, but have only gotten around to writing about a piece on my blog now because I had too much trouble selecting a single piece to write about. Recently I looked at Berkman's work again and this print finally jumped out at me as one I especially want to feature.

Berkman wrote me this about the piece:

"I created it for a group show entitled 'The individual in the community', and the image comes from a stream of consciousness drawing in my sketchbook. I used only 3 colors but I think the simple color palette adds a special poetry to the image."

The idea of the "individual in the community" resonates with me as I view this image. I feel it is full of potent contradictions. The greenish-blue is somewhat drab, yet the purple is a cheery shade. All emphasis is on the portrait - the people in the background barely noticeable. Her face smack in the middle of the composition, yet cut through the center by the horizon. The substance of her body is dissolved into the landscape by a pattern of flowers and her facial features are like wobbly playground structures. There is loneliness even in a crowd.

I am reminded of this quote from Wendy Mass's The Candymakers:

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about."

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

"Canvas" by Anna Filimonova

Image posted with the permission of the artist. Anna Filimonova has a number of stunning color prints with as much imagination and movement as this beauty, available on her online store: Filimanaprint.

The movement is so fluid, the concentration so deep, that what flows in and out are indistinguishable. Equally equivalent are the literal interior space and the landscape of the mind. Not to mention what is happening now and what events have already passed however long ago. She is in the moment, creating.

“Enjoyment appears at the boundary between boredom and anxiety, when the challenges are just balanced with the person's capacity to act.” -Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi 

Friday, October 30, 2015

More Cats by Inagaki Tomoo

If I'm featuring a short run of haikus in response to cat prints by Japanese printmakers, I just gotta include one by Inagaki Tomoo.

A muscular pair of gargoyles
Perched on the midnight watch
The moon winks

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Two Cats and a Lemon by Ido Masao

What can I say, I'm on a haiku-paired-with-cat-prints-by-Japanese-printmakers streak. Although Ido Masao is a wee bit more contemporary than Kiyoshi Saito or Junichiro Sekino. I predict the streak will last through Halloween.


Juicy, black squiggle
Mirrored by a pale foil
Calligraphy come to life

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

"Seated Cat" by Kiyoshi Saito

Monday I wrote a haiku in response to a print of a white cat by a different 20th-century Japanese printmaker, Today, how about a black cat? Halloween is on Saturday, after all.

The eyes say it all
She is present, yet undone
Ink staining the grain

Reduction Relief Prints by 4th Graders at UCAL

I love getting kids to do reduction prints. Typically they've never done it before, and many of them are pretty ho-hum about it until they pull that first print that has two layers of color, and then they get all excited about the effect of layering.

These are my three favorite prints (2 different color version of each) made by my 2D Mixed Media class for 3rd-6th graders at the University City Arts League in West Philadelphia. I'm teaching the same class again in the winter term.




Monday, October 26, 2015

"White Cat" by Junichiro Sekino

Funny how this white cat reminds me of landscapes, and the last white cat I wrote about on this blog (also with its tail cropped at the bottom of the picture plane,) too, reminded me of landscapes. Although Arthur Rigden Read's is more stately and Junichiro Sekino's is more stormy.

For this white cat I humbly offer this haiku:

Body as landscape
Pointed tuffs of fur as trees
Blown down in the wind

Monday, October 19, 2015

"Blowing Bubbles"

I made this for a print exchange: [Baren] Exchange #66. The image is 6" x 8" and the paper is 8" x 10". It is a white line woodcut printed with watercolors on white Stonehenge paper. For this exchange I am printing an edition of 23 in these colors, but I can print more from this block in the future. It takes about 40 minutes to print each one, so I have a bit of work to do over the next week and a half before they are due to be mailed! 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

"Sunset" Art Card for Owl and Cat In Love Pre-Sale Campaign

This is the fourth and final 2.5" x 3.5" art card I created for the Owl and Cat In Love Pre-sale Campaign. The first two cards are posted about here, and the third is posted about here. Anyone who pre-orders the book before its release will receive his or her choice of one of these cards.

This card is a white line woodcut. This is a process of woodcut printmaking where a line drawing is made on the woodblock, the lines are carved out, and then it is printed one section at a time using water-based paints. More can be learned about the process in this illustrated article by Jeanne Norman Chase. White line printmaking is also the method I am using for my series of eight male nudes and my recently started Dancing In the Garden picturebook.  

Fans of Words On Woodcuts Press can also support the publication of this second book by lending money through my Kiva Zip business loan campaign - which as I write this is up to 98% funded! 

Monday, October 12, 2015

"Love At First Sight" Art Card for Owl and Cat In Love Pre-Sale Campaign

This is the third of four 2.5" x 3.5" art cards I am creating for the Owl and Cat In Love Pre-sale Campaign. Here's a link to the post featuring the first two cards. Anyone who pre-orders the book before its release will receive his or her choice of one of the cards.

This card is hand-printed in water-based black ink on lime green card stock. My inspiration for illustrating Lear's The Owl and the Pussycat originally came from the image of the owl and cat first looking deeply into each other's equally large, round eyes, so this seemed an appropriate phrase to include in one of the art cards. 

Fans of Words On Woodcuts Press can also support the publication of this second book by lending money through my Kiva Zip business loan campaign - which as I write this is up to 96% funded! 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

"Great Horned Owl" and "Margay" Art Cards for Owl and Cat In Love Pre-Sale Campaign

These are the first two of four 2.5" x 3.5" art cards I am creating for the Owl and Cat In Love Pre-sale Campaign. Anyone who pre-orders the book before its release will receive his or her choice of one of the cards.

These two are hand-printed in oil-based black ink on 90 lb. Natural-colored Stonehenge paper. They simply depict a great horned owl and a margay, the types of species after which I modeled the book's characters.



Fans of Words On Woodcuts Press can also support the publication of this second book by lending money through my Kiva Zip business loan campaign.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Highlights from [Baren] Exchange #65: Andrew Stone's "Boteh" (Part 3 of 3)

This print is Boteh (paisley) by Andrew Stone, one of the prints from the [Baren] Forum's print exchange #65. The theme and style were open and the paper size was 10" x 15". There were 18 participants and while the entire collection is amazing, I decided to highlight 5 prints: this portrait, two landscapes, and two that effectively employ the use of the grain.

Interestingly enough, this is not the first time I have been captivated enough by a woodcut of the back of a woman's head to write about it on my blog. The first time was five years ago when I wrote about Hibiscus by Viza Arlington. The second was last year when I wrote about Tracy by Alex Katz.

The anonymity of the figure is an opportunity for projection. More of a chance for viewers to relate. The loose strands of hair around her neck and the casual way her shirt's collar slopes lower on one side makes the encounter all the more personal and intimate. It is as if we are together with her, and yet lonesome in our gazing at her.

Andrew Stone wrote a few posts about this print including many photographs of the work in progress on his blog which can be found here.

Highlights from [Baren] Exchange #65: Using the Grain (Part 2 of 3)

These are two woodcuts from the [Baren] Forum's print exchange #65. The theme and style were open and the paper size was 10" x 15". There were 18 participants and while the entire collection is amazing, I decided to highlight 5 prints: these two that effectively employ the use of the grain, as well as two landscapes and one portrait.

There are few similarities between this untitled, abstract print by Aaron Gillette and By the Cook Stove, a representational woodcut featuring a dog by Gillyin Gatto. I suppose I only felt a need to feature the two of them together because for this exchange, I created a woodcut titled Sunflower that was essentially all about using the grain as an expressive, descriptive, and formal element of the image.

I love the way the vertical grain in Gillette's print works with the frayed edge across the top of the red shape to emphasize its swift plummet downward. I feel caught in a moment just before impact, wondering at the diminished, loose stack of bars in its path.


The woodgrain in Gatto's woodcut of course literally describes a wood floor, but the rugged texture also compliments the carved textures of the dog's fur and pattern of his bed, and adds weight and more structure to the entire composition. This is a particular interior space and we viewers are honed-in to a specific, small piece of the larger scene.






Highlights from [Baren] Exchange #65: Landscapes (Part 1 of 3)

These are two landscapes from the [Baren] Forum's print exchange #65. The theme and style were open and the paper size was 10" x 15". There were 18 participants and while the entire collection is amazing, I decided to highlight 5 prints: these two landscapes, one portrait, and two that effectively employ the use of the grain.

The first print is Red Hill by Lindsay Schwartz. The desert is dry but pleasant. Quiet and subdued with its flat plane of blue sky and carefully painted swathes of creamy green and yellow over muddy rust. The image is a contemplative window to a place to wander and ponder in peace.

Although they are both reddish landscapes whose compositions draw the viewer in toward a focal point in the upper-half corner, Red Hill is quite a contrast to just you and me by Maria Arango Diener.



In this second landscape, a tiny woman wades out into an otherworldly sea. The fiery embrace of the sun's reflection wriggles toward her like tentacles. Thick tresses of the woman's hair trail behind her, melting into the shoreline that is bathed in slanted rays. Here, nothing is still, nothing is quiet. More than merely the sounds of sloshing water, the light that ripples out from the sun buzzes, and the rolling hills rumble. The sun is like a great head, more godly than gaseous, more soul than star.



Sunday, September 20, 2015

Bookplate for Al Gury

Oil-based black ink on 90 lb. Natural Stonehenge paper, 4" x 4", edition of 25 plus 2 artist's proofs.

Al Gury is a painter, author, and professor at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. He's also a cat lover and recently commissioned this bookplate for his literary collection. It's in the style of the prints from my Cats A-Z series/book.

I enjoyed making this a lot, especially drawing the lounging cat. He looks pretty relaxed. The Cats A-Z series is printed on bright white paper, but this is printed on a more cream-colored Natural paper (Al Gury's suggestion), which I think better suits the mood of the piece.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Tuesday and Sunday Classes for Kids at Six Senses Clay Studio

Starting this Sunday, September 20 I'm teaching classes for children at the Six Senses Clay Studio in the Mount Airy neighborhood of Philadelphia.

On Sundays from 3-4:30 I'll be teaching a clay class for children of all ages. The emphasis will be learning basic hand-building techniques through a series of fun and creative projects.

Six Senses also runs an after school art program from 3:30-5:30 that teaches not only clay, but a variety of media from basket weaving to painting. Now throw printmaking into the mix because I'm teaching the Tuesday class this fall!

Click here for info on pricing and signing up.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Goodbye to Sunny Point

My residency at the Arts Center of Yates County Sunny Point has ended. Now I'm back in Philadelphia with a whole stack of screenprints, linocuts, woodcuts, blocks, and a completed dummy book draft of The Nautilus and the Ammonite - hooray!

A big, heartfelt thank-you goes out to everyone at the Arts Center who made this opportunity possible. These ten days of peace and solitude were exactly what I needed to get a jump on this project.

As part of the thank-you, I left behind three works of art: a linocut/watercolor study of the "Nautilus" and "Ammonite" characters as I plan to depict them in the book titled "Twin Sisters of the Sea" and the "Plesiosaur" and "Plesiosaur Fossil" woodcuts printed in Prussian blue ink on paper where I did a watercolor and salt wash.


The photograph of me carving and group photo of me with the Board of Directors (see below) were taken by photographer Howard LeVant.

For fellow artists (including performing artists as well as writers) interested in applying for artist residencies, the wonderful resource I use to find appropriate opportunities is the Alliance of Artist Communities.











Stegosaurus

In addition to Plesiosaurs and Tyrannosaurs Rex from my last post, I have made this Stegosaurus. This is just a proof. As far as placement goes, he's likely to be lurking somewhere in the background of The Nautilus and the Ammonite picturebook.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Plesiosaurs and Tyrannosaurus Rex

More work that I've been doing at the Sunny Point Artist Residency. These are first proofs of woodcuts that are intended to be part of the backgrounds in my book project The Nautilus and the Ammonite. The book is mostly set during the Cretaceous period, hence the dinosaurs in the background. 

Okay, technically plesiosaurs are marine reptiles but not dinosaurs, but lived during the same epoch and went extinct in the same event. Plus they are equally amazing-looking ancient fossils that have deeply captured peoples' imaginations ever since their discovery. 

I selected wood boards with dense grain and really took the wire brush to it in order to bring out the organic textures, emphasize flatness, and give the creatures a more ghostly appearance. I'm especially loving the knot in the live plesiosaur.