Monday, December 31, 2012

"Nativity" by Alexandra Ackerman

Image posted with the permission of the artist. Learn more about Alexandra Ackerman and her artwork on her Etsy store here. 

An image of young family: Mother, Father, First Born Babe. A tree grows beside them marking the slow passage of time. A lion stands guard protecting that which is precious and fragile. This is an image of hope, of possibilities. A new life. A new year. The hope that we can do better this time.

And so this is Christmas and what have we done,
Another year over, a new one just begun.


War is over if you want it, war is over now.

-From Happy Xmas (War is Over) by John Lennon (click here for full lyrics) 

Sunday, December 30, 2012

"2209 Arctic Avenue" by Julia Hebner

Image posted with the permission of the artist. More of Julia Hebner's bright and lively work can be viewed and purchased on her Etsy store here. 

"It's winter," she says, "because the trees are naked." The cool, blue shadows of those naked tree branches lay flat across the side of a house like vines. I wonder if someone is looking at our car pass by, peering out from a darkened window. I wonder if it is warm in there.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

"Sledgehammers" by Sybil Andrews

Lean back
Raise head
Pull down and
Strike - THUMP!
A steady rhythm
Each swing of the hammer
One fluid movement
The tools
Extensions of the bodies
The bodies
A collective machine
Weight and force spiral in, while
A trail of wind ripples out
It is like music, or
A blooming flower
The way work should be

Saturday, December 22, 2012

"Boy and Goose" by Eliza Draper Gardiner

It's Christmas Eve, and the boy has been sent to grab the goose for tomorrow's dinner. Not all that much larger or heavier than his prey, the boy wrestles to keep a grip on the distressed bird, while the slanted, purple light of these dwarfed days lends even more drama to their struggle. Despite his small stature, the boy is sturdy and determined. Indeed, Sir Fowl, I don't care how much of a cumbersome and noisy load you are. Regardless of all your wiggles and honks of protest, you're goose is cooked!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

"Resting" by Nancy Grant

I am reminded of science fiction stories with portals which lead to another time and place. Except that in the stories it is always somewhere really exciting, but here it is mundane. Mundane, but at least with a quiet charm. In and out, in and out, and where are we really, especially when we're only halfway through.Tied to this anchor  this overgrown shrub, heads low in acceptance of a fate where we drift on an island of mist. Where we blend in and revolve ever so slowly around a fading altar.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

"Practicing Chopin" by Brenda Everett

Image posted with the permission of the artist. More of Brenda Everett's work can be viewed and purchased on her Etsy Store.

Clumsy notes clamor, through the walls, down the hall, spilling out the screen door into the back yard. The yard where the hard running steps and laughter of children are heard. One of the neighbors is charging up their staircase in time with the notes of the A flat major scale I play over and over again to prepare for Ballade No. 3. Wrong notes, and even right notes played wrong, beat against my eardrums. It takes so long to get any good. Notes, notes, like strokes of paint, some delicate like raindrops, other heavy like gobs of mud. Notes, notes, redundant like stripes and spots on our shirts. Other times merely repetitive, yet with numerous variations, like books of different colors and widths on the shelf, or windows of various sizes and shapes, yet all clear and letting in the light. Over and over I run around this same block, finding my stride, falling full into the moment and losing my sense of time. After a while, a long, long while, all this effort will pay off.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

"The Bees" by Cathy Durso

Image posted with the permission of the artist. Cathy Durso shows and sells her work online on her Etsy Store. Also learn more about the artist and her other works at her website.

What is a bee, but a tiny fairy in a brightly striped petticoat, inviting us in for tea so that she can hurl her itty bity mug of boiling liquid in our faces. Bee. B. Bea. It is a bug, and also the name of a hot-tempered child who happens to like striped petticoats and tea parties.

There's the Bee on the wall. Not the real, live insect, but the vintage decal. The one with the curly-Q antennae and rosy-red nose. She's friends with the Bear. That one with the blue bow round his neck, who smiles at us with glossy, plastic eyes. Not a speck in common with the Bear at the zoo. Bees and Bears. I should be afraid, but I'm not.

Now here is a swarm! A pulsating parade of bees stripped down to more resemble bubbles or balloons. Like eyes, they stare. Yellow, glowing cat eyes, which hover over neatly mowed grass, in the place where darkness is bubble gum pink.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

"Tiger and Sloth" by Ellen Shipley

Image posted with the permission of the artist. More about Ellen Shipley and her work can be viewed on her blog, Pressing Issues.

It is, rather, the tiger of my dreams, flat and ornamental, yet snickering at me, and I just don't know what's so damn funny. There is something in a way cats recline. That position which is so stately, so cozy, as if the cat is privy to some secret of how the world works. Oh, that snicker, how it taunts me even in my sleep. Especially in my sleep, actually, for my dreams are portals to terrible lands, where giants lurk and days are longer than snakes.

The sloth is who I'd rather be. He has disguised himself in plain view as the tiger's reflection. Eveyone is so distracted by thirst and the tiger's stately posture and pretty swirls that they don't notice the sloth. Quietly he extends his tongue and pulls forward to lick the dew off a saucy leaf.

Addendum: When I contacted Ellen Shipley to get permission to write about and post this image, she added this:

I don't know exactly what you plan to say about the print, but I don't know if you saw in a later post that the woman it was made for died of the Swine flu a short while later. She was a friend and co-worker, and that year's Christmas card had an homage to her:  she is the "Kitty" sleeping on the hearth. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Proof of "Gus"

Image is approximately 6" x 10". I had been wanting to make a print from this beautiful photograph of my friend's dog "Gus" for a while now. But I was having trouble deciding which approach to take. I have been doing my Cats A-Z series in black and white, and also looking at the black and white work of some other wood block printmakers, and decided to use this image of Gus for a study in black and white. I'm very pleased with how the blanket under him is turning out. However, Gus himself still reads as way too flat. I'm also not sure how I feel about the composition - I want more dark on the right side of the image to balance things out. Part of me is wishing I had decided to do a color reduction print from this photo (and perhaps I will do that too if I find the time.) But mainly I'm glad I decided on the black and white exactly because it isn't turning out yet how I'd like, so it's forcing me to work more at it. I'll go back into this block and post another update on it soon. If it turns out I can't save it, at least I will have learned something from it.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

"Sometimes I Am Married" by Annie Bissett

Image posted with the permission of the artist. Annie Bissett wrote about her personal story that brought about this print on her blog here. Click here to go to her website to check out (and maybe purchase) some of her wonderful wood block prints.

"I became a historian, and went into the past, for the purpose of trying to understand and do something about what is going on in the present." -Howard Zinn

It is a map that charts out the state of gay marriage in the United States with the date it is made stamped at the top. However, the marriages, or rather the marriage of the print maker has been personalized. I am married. I am not married. I might be married. A single word: I, completely personalizes the image. While information about the laws are displayed in the form of a simple and neutral graphic, the personal impact these law have on real-life people (and in this case person) are displayed in the atmospheric planes of blue ink. Those and other subtle details are evidence of the artist's hand. The I who cared enough to make note of this significant point in time and state of dis-unity.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Owl and Cat In Love (Image 1)

"Owl Hunting A Rabbit"
Woodcut (reduction)
11.25" x 11.75" (image)
15" x 16" (paper)
Oil based inks on Subi paper
Limited edition of 5
Available for purchase here.

I've started illustrating "Owl and Cat in Love" (working title), a story in pictures based on Edward Lear's poem "The Owl and the Pussycat". This will be done entirely with woodcuts, hopefully eventually for a published picture book. The story is going to elaborate on Lear's poem with additional scenes and details and for some elements I plan to divert entirely from the poem. In addition, I'd like each image to work as a stand-alone work of art. This is page one. Much more to come!

Friday, November 2, 2012

"Girl Playing Accordion"

5.75" x 8"
Available for purchase here. 

I did this for the Third Annual Day 2 Day Print Exchange. This print along with dozens of works by artists from around the world will be exhibited at the FS Gallery at The Art Center of the Capital Region in Troy, NY, January 5th through February 24th.

This image turned out rougher than I wanted (I was going for spontaneous and expressive.) The more I look at it, the more I wish I had been able to let loose even more and let it get weirder. My favorite parts of this image are the parts that barely make sense, like how the buttons on the left of the accordion resemble the fingers, and how the shadow to the left of the foot looks like a oozing form in its own right. At least this achieved my main goal, which was to bring back the color. Doing all this black and white has made me long for some vivid complimentary. Also, I've been listening to Polka music. Enjoy.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

"Man in Storm" by Isaac Friedlander

The storm is fierce, and he has no shelter. He's withered and bent like the grasses and trees, but with less grace and more fear. A crooked river stabs him the back like a bolt of lightening. He does not know whether he should hope for a quick death now or to survive only to suffer the terrible aftermath.

Monday, October 29, 2012

"Lysistrata" (Ballerina On Staircase)

This is a little monotype (image is approximately 6" x 9") I did of Lysistrata walking down the steps to her ballet class. I did 6 monotypes in 3 hours during a workshop I was leading, and I was the most satisfied with this one. I used Createx Monotype Colors on a plexiglass sheet and applied the ink with paint brushes.

The thing with monotypes is that the first one always sucks and I have to work at them for at least 2-3 hours just to produce anything decent. I would love to spend a week doing nothing but monotypes for 4 hours after breakfast and another 4 hours after lunch. I get chills thinking about the amount of colorful, expressive, and spontaneous imagery which would result. But that's a lot of time and money for supplies. Ah, plans for retirement...

Saturday, October 27, 2012

"The Visitor" by Kathleen Neeley

Image posted with the permission of the artist. More about Kathleen Neeley can be found online at her Etsy Store, Flickr, and Twitter.

Elephantine foliage slouch and wave against the smoke from the fire. Smoke rises up to a two-toned moon and starless night sky. Creeping bark and pebbled shadows follow suit, scurrying upward. It is as if they were cockroaches suddenly exposed in the light, and the moon were a crack in the wall and their only means of escape. Tree roots jut out from under a leaf like a pair of naked legs. Their ambulatory form is echoed over and over again, for there are many pairs of long limbs in this scene. And speaking of pairs, in the foreground, two jungle-shrubs fan out, startled, like black hands of a startled monster who was just passing by. It is curious, the way the solitary figure sits - perhaps in meditation - at the dramatically vaporous fire while a collection of nocturnal beasties bear witness to her vigil. Even the rocks seem attentive and eager to join the crowd of nightalls. Logic suggests they are drawn by the warmth, yet I'm convinced this is the coolest place in the entire forest.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

"Pensées" by Irving Amen

A comment on one of my recent blog posts compared one of my prints to that of Irving Amen. So I checked Amen out, and in addition to feeling flattered that one of my works would be compared to his, I'm shocked that I didn't know about him before since his prints are striking and his work spans decades. In fact, the artist only passed away last year at the age of 91. Here's a link to his official webpage for those who would like to check out more of his prints (as well as sculptures and paintings.) Also, there is a lovely article about Amen written in 2011 that can be read here.

The word pensées has a primarily Christian association due to the writings by Christian apologist Blaise Pascal of the same title. However, the term literally means "thoughts", and the imagery here transcends a narrowly Christian interpretation. Especially when viewed in context with the rest of Amen's work that expresses broad religious tolerance, and the fact that Amen himself was Jewish. Here are my thoughts on this Pensées:

I am reminded of those moments right after deeply experiencing or creating art. The senses so profoundly engaged for a period of time, and now suddenly there is silence and air to breath and reflect. Sitting in the seat at a movie theater, unable to move under the weight of thoughts and emotions as the closing credits roll across the screen. These are moments that engage the whole body, felt not only in the heart, but in muscles, and skin, and bones. For a brief reverie, the world is washed anew. The look of colors and faces is altered, and the very air surrounding us seems pregnant with connotation. Though we cannot live inside such moments, they make life more worthwhile.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Cats A-Z: C (Cheetah)

Image is 5" x 3"


Not far from here, a small gazelle who had strayed from his group flees for his life. The grasses and trees all around have become a panoramic streak. He has entered a cloistered state where the only sound is the rapid pounding of his own steps and breath. This nightmare will be short, a minute at the most. Once he's been targeted by the spotted beast, he can hide, but he can't run.

The cheetah is the fastest land animal on earth. They are swift predators are sprinters who can accelerate from zero to over one hundred miles per hour in less than five seconds.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

"Ready To Go" by John Tate

Image posted with the permission of the artist. More of John Tate's photo-realistic, black and white woodcuts can be viewed and purchased on his Etsy Store. 

I wrote two short poems in response to this one:

Dense, metal bodies
Leaning against the climate
Still, yet, poised to fly


We are all made of atoms, and
All atoms made of particles
Said to be elementary.
Sometimes when I look at things like
The skyline of my city at dusk, the
Shape of my daughter's foot, or
A really, good beef stew,
I want to worship those particles.
I want to line them all up in a row, and
Follow that path just over the blackened horizon.

Addendum: When I contacted John Tate to get permission to post the image on this blog, he also gave this explanation of his unique process:

Years ago, when I was doing my graduate work, a printmaking professor of mine referred to what I do as "digital woodcut". 

The process involves taking a photograph of something or bringing a montage (I used to do woodland creatures) into Photoshop and rendering the image in Black and White, then bumping up the contrast, then cross-hatching it. The next step is transferring the image to the woodblock. I then use a dremel tool with a cut-off wheel to make anywhere from 10,000 to sometimes as many as 40,000 cuts. The block is then sealed and printed.
I found it's the only way to get the kind of detail I wanted out of wood. They are best viewed, like an Impressionist Painting, at about ten feet away. They almost look photographic at this distance.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Cats A-Z: B (Blackberry)

Image is 4" x 3.75"


What a relief to come out from under that pickup truck. She is so tired of gravel and debris. The life of a stray is hard. She is pregnant, and wanting more for her kittens. Her legs might be stumpy, but those short legs are the key to future glory. Her descendants won't scavenge for leftovers or hide from dogs. They will be prim and pampered, eat well, and win prizes.

Blackberry was the grandmother of all Munchkin cats. In 1983 an American music teacher discovered two pregnant cats with unusually short legs under a pickup truck. The one she named Blackberry gave birth to a kitten named Toulouse, and it is from their line that all registered Munchkins descend. Munchkins are a new breed of cat to be officially recognized by The International Cat Association. So new, in fact, that there are ongoing debates over whether it is ethical or not to breed these cats, distinguished by their extremely short legs. Some fear that Munchkins will suffer back, hip, and leg health problems, and thus these critics discourage the propagation of the breed. Others argue that there is no evidence that Munchkins' short legs cause health problems. They also point out that stray Munchkins flourish alongside more typical cats and that the autosomal dominant gene that causes Munchkins' short legs has repeatedly appeared in genetic mutations in several separate lineages.

Monday, September 17, 2012

"Nordischer Hafen" by Siegfried Berndt

I'm just enthralled by the color. The swaths of two-tone blues, interrupted by inky black islands. Black boats, black dock with red lines cut away, bright as neon signs. A rhythmic conga line of black and red houses riding on the back of a limey green roll of the landscape. And trees that stand then dip and dance, ready to melt into the folds of land. Ready to be escorted home after a long night of swaying, stepping, and pulsating to songs that will never need words because they already speak so well to our feet and hands and hearts. I am ready to go dancing now. I am ready to shake my booty to a beat that drowns out all voices.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Cats A-Z: A (All Ball)

Image is 3.5" x 4"

This is page one of an alphabet book of cats I'm writing and illustrating. Each page will feature a cat whose name starts with a letter of the alphabet. Haven't decided if the final book will be in color or keep it in black and white. I'm planning to play around with watercolors on my proofs of this print tomorrow.

All Ball 

Being adopted, he looks nothing like his mother. But when she holds him, he feels comforted by her fur and the heat of her body against his. He can tell from her long gazes and gentle caresses that she loves him. Even when a baby is chosen from a litter, a mother knows which one is hers.

All Ball was the name of Koko the gorilla's first pet kitten. Koko (a gorilla in captivity who was taught more than 1000 words in sign language) chose this pet out of an abandoned litter and named him "All Ball" because the kitten was a Manx and therefore had no tail. There are many films and a book documenting Koko playing joyfully with All Ball. Sadly, All Ball was killed in an accident just a few months after being adopted by Koko. After hearing the news, Koko is reported to have signed words expressing her grief and cried in private. It is a moving story that some researchers present as evidence of the profound emotional similarities between humans and other great apes.  

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Martha Briana's Violins

Martha Briana is currently working on a series of small violin prints. These three works are titled The Fiddle Circle, Fiddle Totem, and Musical Play. I sat and stared at these images a long time, following the beautifully varied and lyrical lines, weighty forms, and textured spaces that lead me in and out of a mysterious world full of precarious structures and hints of animism. Having too many divergent things to say about each of them, I finally just edited my responses down to three haiku. These and other works by Martha Briana can be viewed and purchased on her Etsy store.

Rigid puzzle pieces
That don't fit together are
Poised to explode

Perilous tower
Like painstakingly stacked stones
Carefully balanced  

The white space reminds me of
John Cage, oceans, and
The nothing that is

Monday, September 10, 2012

"Adam and Eve" by Leonard Beaumont

The man's blue eye peers out from the dark, while the woman's red lashes advance with confident stride. This place is an ancient, Martian paradise. A time when the red planet shimmered wet and blue, and naked aliens waded through thick and stylish foliage.

Romance abounds in these vintage postcards, these myths that sharpen our vision, yet cloud our good sense.

As these two move toward me I long to open my arms, give them both a good, firm embrace. But they will break apart and rejoin the abstract lines, shapes, and rhythms of the background before I even get close.

There will be no evidence left behind from these visitors. Nothing except the persistent memory of their having come and the nondescript yet powerful sense that without them life is no longer worth living. They are blood-sucking predators disguised as peace-seekers. Flat, empty, vessels parading as beauty, truth, and hope.

Monday, September 3, 2012

"Prisonier" by Norbertine von Bresslern Roth

Why were you just standing there, silent, for so long? I knew you were there, loitering beside the trashcan. I've longed to knock over that trashcan, examine its contents, day after wretched day. Handle a half-eaten pretzel, sniff a soggy, empty soda cup, just for a change of pace. Just for the sake of something new. It's not that anything inside this cage is bad. But, oh, the tedium!

I noticed you there, but I dared not stare back at you. I know what annoyance it is to be stared at, and didn't want to frighten you away. You stood so long, I thought you might be aiming at something. Perhaps, after all the gawkers had gone, you might do something interesting. But you just hung around for such an achingly long space of time, and then slipped away, passing into the crowd, nameless, like all the rest.

Day after day these faces, these figures, bleed into each other and become like wallpaper in the most abhorrent of rooms. Curse this insane asylum. I no longer know my own voice, or preferences, or temperament, for all that is unique is lost in this sea of identically miserable days.

Friday, August 24, 2012

"Hanami - Coming to you" by Mara Cozzolino

Image posted with the permission of the artist. See more of Mara Cozzolino's artwork on either her Etsy store of her Blog.

This is one of those moments when I lose my sense of not only place and time but who I am. The weight of things doesn't matter. We might as well be on the moon. We might as well be in a dream. I see you moving toward me. Now I hear the swooshing sound of your skirt as you walk. And now I feel the air being pushed around by your movements. Wait, I'm being pulled back to earth, back to the waking world. I feel my feet hitting the pavement, smell the crisp, cool air, hear the pleasant chatter of people. But I don't want to leave, and I don't want to come back. I just want anonymously to drift in the spaces in between.

Monday, August 20, 2012

"Cats In the Trees" by Eileen Mayo

Are we one or two as we slink around the trees?

Up one, down one. Where is sky and ground? I cannot see. The leaves obscure our vision. But gaze on, we do, as if we have a view.

Shadows patch the branches like floating ghosts or overgrown amoebae. And as we move, our stripes slither as if they are their own living beings.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

"Outside Stood An Old Fellow Chopping Wood" by Betsy Bowen

Image posted with the permission of the artist. This print was published in the book The Troll With no Heart in His Body by Lise Lunge-Larsen, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston, 1997. See more of Betsy Bowen's artwork on her website here.

A great troll, camouflaged as a towering evergreen, wrenches over, hands curled, eyes set with focused urgency. Is he looking at something in that hand? The sound of steady chops breaks the quiet stillness.The rest of the forest is set in aqua-blue like a whisper in the background of this dramatic scene. Indeed, the troll, flanked by pillars and with an arch overhead, seems to stand on a stage. And though I momentarily feel I am a member of an audience, his anxious leaning over and the shape of the rectangle which encases him cause me, too, to lean over. It is as if I am peering into a shoe box I had stowed under the bed and forgot about a long, long time ago.  

Thursday, August 2, 2012

"Lake Spirit" by Dale de Armond

Yah! Hop, skip, like a stone over and above the waters (splish splosh, splish splosh), but you, you owl-faced sea-monster encircle me with your claws. This seems to take hardly any effort on your part. Those mighty talons, they churn up, swoop down, all at once, yet so calm and serene are your eyes. Oh, how exhilarating this hopeless flight! The cool, crisp air! The claps of waves against waves! The most wondrous dance I've ever done. You have me, yes, this I accept, and all I ask is that you make it quick.

Friday, July 6, 2012

"Fügelfjell i mitnattsol" (Birdcliffs in midnight sun) by Frithjof Tidemand Johannessen

The laughs of the seagulls invade my imagination. I run in circles asking myself what it is that I want from them, myself, or anyone else. I find no answers ever, but I keep asking these questions. Keep returning to the same places over and over again as if it is my destiny. As if I have no control over how my vacation time is spent. Let me lay here overlooking the restless waters; rest a while, alone, surrounded by such painfully beautiful geometry. I need a breather, just for bit, before the next lap around the track that has been set begins.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Monotype: "Eulabee"

Monotype (water-based inks on Rives BFK)
5" x 7" (image) 6.5" x 10" (paper)

I recently taught an intro to monotypes workshop to a group of teenagers, and so to prepare I did a bunch of monotypes in my studio. It had been years since I made a monotype, and I was never that into it. I made six pretty awful images before I created this lovely little sketch of my younger daughter.

I should do more of these. A lot more.

I should. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

"She Never Liked Dresses" by Belinda Del Pesco

Image reposted with the permission of the artist. Learn more about Belinda Del Pesco and her artwork at her website here.

...and it was just as well since she preferred to not be leered at like a piece of steak to be gnawed on. This particular dress wasn't so bad. With its collar and belt, it wore a bit more like a shirt and loose slacks, and worked well with her simple, easy-to-care-for haircut. Not to say she was a tomboy, for certainly she could never be mistaken for a boy. Just feminine in her own way, on her own terms. A flower over the ear, delicate hands, and a curvaceous figure, subtly emphasized by the way she walked. Never noticed by the lowest-common-denominator, but always loved for who she really was, and therefore happy in the most profound sense of the word.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

"At the Piano" by Ethel Mars

The hours of practice run together in my memory and are now more like a dream. I could never say how often or deliberately I played. There is only a smattering of details left: the faintest streaks of wood-grain I perceived through the dark stain on the piano's heavy, wood frame; a wall painted the color of split pea soup; the musty smell of the living room on humid, late-spring afternoons. That room could be so dark and dull (even more so in the foggy din of memories), but when I tapped those keys with the soft pads of my fingers, all was color and light, like a strawberry blonde standing in an endless field of poppies on the sunniest of days.  

Friday, June 8, 2012

"Sisters" by Carrie Lingscheit

Image posted with the permission of the artist. Learn more about Carrie Lingscheit and her artwork on her website.

They are sisters, but they seem more like mother and child...

I'm looking up at you, but you don't look back at me. You glance downward, as if in deep thought, a subtle smile on your face. You are in another place, worlds apart from me, and I long to be there with you. Your shadow falls over my face like a birthmark. I am forever torn between who I am and who I might have been without you. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Wolf Study

 Wolf Study 
4" x 4" (image) 6.5" x 6.5" (paper)
Reduction woodcut, watercolors and water based ink on Stonehenge paper
Edition of 4

This is a small study I did for a friend. I wanted to mess around more with printing with a combination of watercolors and water-based block printmaking ink. This is a four layer reduction, and I documented the printing of each layer as I went along (see below.) The first layer I painted watercolor onto the block, separating the background from the foreground with a thinly carved line. The second layer was a solid silver, the third a solid brown, and the final layer I did a gradation from a deep burgundy to a dark bluish-purple. I wish a little more of the wood grain came through, and overall I didn't expect the piece to come off quite this flat. I sort of wish I had pushed more deliberately in that direction and made it weirder - more bright and surreal color, less line-work and more abstract/expressive. I never know exactly how these things are going to turn out, but I always learn something. That's what I like about this medium.

"Excitement" by James Mitchell

I am on the outside looking in on this spectacle of violent revelry. Though they form a singular cluster, they are not of a single mind. Some seem to try to control the crowd, while others scream in terror, furiously shake sticks, obliviously pound back more drink, and at least one woman covers her ears and lowers her head. Spots of debris encircle the mob, emphasizing the empty void around their communal shape. They seem contained by this void, but that is a hopeful illusion. In fact they are more like a bomb about ready to burst, for at least one drunken fool is already stepping out. Where all these pieces of broken humanity will end up, only time will tell.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

"Noonlight" by F. Crum

Images posted with the permission of the artist. More of F. Crum's work can be viewed at the blog Art and FCRUM and the artist's Etsy Store.

I am reminded of that quote from Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll, "Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place." 

She squats down on the slanted floor so as not to fall, yet does not seem perturbed. She looks at us, dignified, and waves. The waving hand appears almost as if alive in its own right. Some kind of bird about to take flight. Escape this topsy, turvey, purple room. But the windows offer only small openings that constantly shift; the odds of success are slim. So enjoy the ride, my friend, because this is the best chance we've got to make something outta this chaos, even if only for a short while.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Bad Kitty

4" x 3"
4-layer woodcut reduction
Water-based ink on Stonehenge paper
Edition of 4 (and one AP)

He begs with large, watery eyes. Begging, but assertive none-the-less. Can't you see I'm hungry and cold, he seems to say, you're a nice person. Let me inside right now. He is a pretty cat. Shiny, sleek. We almost forget what he's done, but an anti-welcome mat backdrop serves as a not-so-subtle reminder of his true and inescapable nature. We acknowledge him, give a sympathetic glance or two, but leave the door shut.

Monday, June 4, 2012

"Sailing" by Julia Mavrogordato

These are churning waves, a green sea, a tumultuous sheet. No, no, no. These are not waves. This boat sales over an exquisite patchwork quilt. It sails over rolling, green hills on which weeds of every shape and size grow. It sails in and through a dream with its own barbaric soundtrack. Boom boom boom, clink, clank, shake a boom boom. The wind is whistling, and I feel exhilaration. The sky is darkening, and I am afraid. The rains will come, and they will drown the green in a puddle of muddy blue, and I'm okay with that because it's better to feel alive even if only for a short time, and because you're with me.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

More Than Black and White

4" x 6"
Water-based ink on Stonehenge paper
Reduction woodcut
One of two (Did another edition of 2, another of 3, and 2 APs)

She is more than a binary system. Her blacks are pigment that contain all hues. Likewise, her whites are the reflection of all colors in the spectrum of visible light. Like Whitman, she contains multitudes. Her firmly planted front legs are ready to begin a new journey. She is like a wagon,  or perhaps more accurately a plow, and the curl at the tip of her tail is a hook to drag us all along. The purveyor of the universe turns her head before disappearing into the light.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

"Running Deer" by Jane Beharrell

Image posted with the permission of the artist. More of Jane Beharrell's art can be viewed at her website that includes links to her artist's blog and store.

Red deer run in snow.
If you blink they will be gone
And the snow, melted.

A shapely escape.
Silhouettes on textured ground,
Nothing in between.

What has startled them,
Reduced them to flattened streaks,
Gifted us this jewel?

Friday, June 1, 2012

"The Campers" by Helen Stevenson

That was when I ran out of things to say. These were merely the moments in between good (or mediocre, as the case may be) gossip. What were the children and the men, those dots on the landscape, up to at the time? Who knows. As I recall, the water was tepid, the apples a bit mealy, and the air still.

This is only a memory, and all washed out from reliving it over and over again in my mind. Like my favorite blue skirt faded from too many cycles in the washer. How many details have I forgotten and reinvented along the way? Were our blouses quite so bubble gum pink? What shade of blue was that skirt to begin with after all?

Camping reminds me of memories, which reminds me of death and the transient nature of existence. I feel like we live our whole lives out of a tent, merely staked out for a day or few, surrounded by much more permanent grandeur. Anything we learn in that scant amount of time perhaps could be passed on to the next set of scouts, were we not in such a hurry to move on.

I wonder if that tree is still there, and if so, how much it has grown. Right out of the picture frame I imagine. But maybe it has died, fallen, and long been removed. Certainly the mountain remains.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Hanko for "a show with zefrank"

I took about 6 weeks off from writing in this blog. Didn't plan it, just happened. (Insert excuses here.) Moving on...

This is a print from a one by one inch wood stamp I made to use as my own signature seal. It was part of a collective project for a show with ze frank.

I spent more time deciding on what image to include than I spent actually making the stamp. I even drew two other possibilities, both hairless cats. But in the end I decided on this half upsidedown strawberry, half cat skull. I love the juxtaposition of a plump, juicy fruit with a reminder of mortality. And why a cat skull? Hard to say, really. Perhaps because it distances me and viewers a bit from the harshness of that reminder. Or maybe because it further emphasizes the other end of a spectrum to feature an outright carnivore with sharp canine teeth alongside a tasty fruit. Maybe something else deep in my subconscious that hasn't yet occurred to me. Whatever the reasons I like the way the leaves and seeds of the strawberry visually echo the cat's teeth.

The K and M are (obviously) for my initials. I could lie and say that I planned to do them backward to go with  how half of the image is upsidedown, but I really just made this stamp so spontaneously directly on the wood and forgot that it would print backward. So actually I had drawn it so it read M then K from left to right but the K was deliberately backward. Since it printed the mirror image the K is in the correct orientation, but it reads in the backward order. Kind of all worked out despite my bumbling. Funny that.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

"Waterfall" by Viza Arlington

Image posted with the permission of the artist. Here are links to Viza Arlington's blog and Etsy store.

Water like ribbons dispensed for an unfathomably massive gift. Some pulled straight and taut, the rest spilling out in a nervous, jiggly flow. My scalp starts to itch because I'm reminded of hair perfectly parted in the center before being pulled so tight that there is wincing, even a yelp. From there the hair is tied into place with uncomfortable bands from which the rest of the hair is released to make frizzy chaos.There are many shades and hues of blue, and they are all translucent and they all shimmer. The black and grey cliffs and rocks create a stoic frame for the water's insistent movement, just as you are an essential sounding board for my endless grievances.

Friday, April 6, 2012

"Piccadilly" by John Hall Thorpe

Light pollution. Gorgeous boxes of glowing golden-yellow, like fireflies, hovering everywhere. That is the explanation for so few stars. Layers of blue upon blue, but none so deep and dark as black. The light prevents it. And we noisy, sweaty diurnal creatures hustle and bustle about. The hum of engines and countless conversations fills the void left by the stars. We, lovers-of-the-light, scurry around monumental structures. One such monolith is a circular fountain, from the top of which an angel shoots his arrow back into the crowd. It is a futile effort, like grasping for a lost ring in the dark.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

"Pioneer Woman"

4 color reduction
8" x 12"(image) 12" x 16" (paper)
Oil-based inks on Kozo paper
Edition of 2
Available for purchase here.

This image was created for the second of several book covers I'm designing for my mother to market her novels for Amazon's Kindle. The novel is an adventurous, historical story about a girl coming of age as her family seeks a new life in the American frontier. I'll post again about it once the cover is finished and the book available online.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

"The Sounding Line" by Bridget Mary Henry

Image posted with the permission of the artist. I was quite excited to discover the work of Bridget Mary Henry on Etsy. She is a woodcut printmaker who incorporates much surreal use of color and imagery. Check out her website to see more of her breathtaking and imaginative woodcuts.

Everything starts small. The first step in a marathon. The first cup of flour for a batch of nana's chocolate chip cookies, the smell of which will live in the memory of her grandchildren for a lifetime. Tiny buds on an otherwise naked magnolia tree that no one seems to notice, and before we know it, its maternal branches are covered in full, thick blooms.

She has cast herself down into the murky depths in the name of information gathering. Science! Progress! It is a pretty sacrifice, and there will be magnolias at her funeral.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

"Tug of War" by Ethel Spowers

Two in the center pitted against each other yet joined by the tight grip of hands, their arms stretched like a slingshot. Behind each of these foes is a line of fellow warriors, arms all around waists, heels dug into the ground and pull, pull, pull! Nonparticipants kick and hoot from the sidelines. They think they want a resolution to all this tension. In the heat of battle they long for relief and don't consider casualties. They fail to appreciate the exquisite calm that results from balance.