Saturday, February 25, 2017

"Plesiosaur Swimming In Circles"

Plesiosaur Swimming in Circles
30" x 22"

mixed media (watercolors, collagraph, woodcut)

This is yet another one-off print that branched from work on The Nautilus and the Ammonite

I seriously need to get some dedicated time in a professional screen printing studio to further explore these ideas and issues. Eventually... 

Friday, February 24, 2017

"T-Rex Enters"

T-Rex Enters 
30" x 22"
mixed media (watercolors, collagraph, woodcut)

This is another one-off print that branched from work on The Nautilus and the Ammonite. I know the color has something to do with what's happening with these - Tyranosaurus is strongly associated with red and yellow in my mind. I know these associations have some connection to plastic toys and children's book illustrations from both my own childhood and what I've been constantly exposed to as a teacher of kids and primary caretaker of my own kids. I'm not sure where this is going, but I really hope I manage to find the time and space to explore dinos further.  

Thursday, February 23, 2017

"Wandering Stegosaurus"

Wandering Stegosaurus
30" x 22"
mixed media (watercolors, collagraph, woodcut)

I'd been wanting to take the woodcuts I've made for The Nautilus and the Ammonite and use them in other works of art. This is one finished piece. I'm working very intuitively on these, and even though I was consciously trying to make it more asymmetrical, that wasn't working so I ended up with this instead.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Sketchbook Sunday: Red Footed Booby Face

This made this little sketch of the front view of a red footed booby this week. I did some other booby sketches, but this one is the best so far. My attempt at making this awkward-looking animal seem more like the fierce and agile predator it really is. Sketching red footed boobies for a reason - I plan to put one in my next print for Baren Exchange #72. More on that later.

Friday, February 17, 2017

"Untitled (#25)" by Donald Judd

I am lost inside the corridors of this symmetrical labyrinth. Swimming in red, red like blood, red and black like feathers on a cardinal. A shadow tromping through high grasses at night, but what is that red light? Squinting at red, red like brake lights, red and black like a super moon in full lunar eclipse against the night sky. Still lost, still searching, coming around again.

Monday, February 13, 2017

A Wise Old Owl in Color

I'm heading into the final hour of my latest crowd-sourcing promotional campaign for Words On Woodcuts Press. Last night I finished hand-coloring the first proof for this promotion's incentive - a hand-made accordion book illustrating the Mother Goose rhyme A Wise Old Owl. I'm always amazed how color transforms the black and white woodcut. Many interesting and beautiful visual elements are lost as the color more strictly defines certain objects. It is playful and seductive. I love that I'll be making an edition of both color and black and white for contributors and future buyers. The two versions truly are two different works of art.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

"Embers" by Ali Cat Leeds

Image posted with the permission of the artist. Find more work by Ali Cat Leeds at her website Entangled Roots Press. (And incidentally, this particular work is on sale.)

Stop reaching into the blackness, expecting to encounter the same thing every time. That is only our ignorance and lack of imagination. It's not black, it's the vast unknown, and we learn to be at peace with it. We break things all down to black and white. We want this to be easy. It will not be easy. We want to know there are options. Good options. Options that will leave us feeling satisfied and comfortable. There are not always good options. We want to believe that we have control over what happens to our mother, our children, our home. We want to have certainty and control, and so we confuse audacity with hubris. We reach into the black assuming we'll find just what we need to fight the machine, the beast, the devil, but that is rarely the case. Smell that smoke? If we're not careful, we're liable to be burned. Might be burned either way. So let us stop and sit a while. Consider, among all that is showered in light before our eyes, what needs to be done. Who is hungry and can be fed?

Saturday, February 11, 2017

A Wise Old Owl: Process and First Proof

A lot of artists who blog tend to share photographs and explanations of their process as it goes along. Generally I have not done that with this blog, opting instead to frequently feature the works of other artists that have evoked certain thoughts and feelings or otherwise inspired me.

I break my usual habit today by featuring photos of the process I went through creating the first proof for the handmade book (which is currently still in-process) A Wise Old Owl. The reason for this exception is that I ran a fundraising campaign for Words On Woodcuts Press featuring copies of this book as a reward. Posting photos of the sketches, final drawing, carving, and first proof of the book on social media provided a means of continuous promotion including hashtags and a link to the campaign page. I'm living in an age where we artists have many methods of directly reaching out to an audience, and anyone familiar with my work and press knows that I've spent a number of years attempting to "raise my platform" using these contemporary resources (in between my teaching career and raising my kids - whew!)


Anyway, I'm glad that I've decided to share these photographs with my audience as it has compelled me to more deeply reflect on how I translate what I see (and think about my subjects) through several stages of sketching, transferring, carving, and finally printing. Viewers might notice that certain shapes in some of the animals are echoed in the plants or rocks immediately around them. I place them that way sometimes intuitively, sometimes deliberately, but the emphasis on these visual relationships doesn't really come out until the final print, and even I don't know exactly how it will appear until I pull off that first proof.

Okay, I've already written too much. I'm starting to participate in an activity I intentionally swore off years ago. Forget all these words words words. Just look at the art. See what you see.


Sunday, February 5, 2017

Sketchbook Sunday: Four More Wagner Owls

More drawing from taxidermy in the Wagner's collection. 

The Owl

by Edward Thomas 
Downhill I came, hungry, and yet not starved;
Cold, yet had heat within me that was proof
Against the North wind; tired, yet so that rest
Had seemed the sweetest thing under a roof.

Then at the inn I had food, fire, and rest,
Knowing how hungry, cold, and tired was I.
All of the night was quite barred out except
An owl’s cry, a most melancholy cry

Shaken out long and clear upon the hill,
No merry note, nor cause of merriment,
But one telling me plain what I escaped
And others could not, that night, as in I went.

And salted was my food, and my repose,
Salted and sobered, too, by the bird’s voice
Speaking for all who lay under the stars,
Soldiers and poor, unable to rejoice.

Friday, February 3, 2017

"Forests of Rallion" by Allie Morris

Image posted with the permission of the artist. Find more of Allie Morris's work at Paracosm Prints.

This is a time of day when the columns cast long shadows. Shadows that wriggle and shiver and dance in the golden light. We were there remembering a moment from long ago in the untamed far away. Or was I alone with my imagination? Did I simply read about it? No, I distinctly remember the nudge of your shiny, blue-black beak. Why were we there? Had we stepped outside to breath in the fresh air or were we locked in our rooms (in our heads) like Max who made mischief? We thought of the trees as architecture. Or do I have that backwards? Anything could have emerged from that wall of opaque sunshine; a gallant knight or fine lady (rings on her fingers and bells on her toes) riding horseback. Maybe a hungry wolf dressed as grandmother (or a hungry boy, dressed as a wolf). Or perhaps this will all remain quiet and after I close my eyes, disintegrate into a cool blue wash. 

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Groundhog Day 2017

This is my 2017 Groundhog Day card. It's a linocut and I did a first edition of 33. I skipped making one last year (I had just moved and hadn't set up my studio yet.) I did make Groundhog Day cards in 2015 and 2014, and plan to continue this as an annual tradition.

This is my first woodcut to include a pop-up element. So the messages are written on the cover of the card and the decorative image is on the inside. I leave it up to the viewers to decide what he's reacting to and its meaning.