Sunday, May 28, 2017

Sketchbook Sunday: Watercolors of Children

These are three little watercolor paintings I did from pencil sketches of children in my daughter's dance class. The sketches were created for and used in my book project Dancing in the Garden. Something about these three drawings compelled me to also make them into these stand alone paintings. Each painting is 5" x 5" on 90 lb. white Stonehenge paper.

The original drawings

Thursday, May 25, 2017

"Self Portrait With Sasquatch" Revisited

My last day at Soaring Gardens I had a little time to play around with drawing and watercolor paintings, and one thing I did was revisit Self Portrait With Sasquatch, a woodcut I carved in 2011. The original print was a 4 layer reduction that I made in a single day. It was in fact the big finish of my 30 Prints in 30 Days project. It turned out better than expected, but because the print had to be completed in a single day, I only had time to make 2, and being a reduction, I could not make any more.

The last layer was rather interesting in-of-itself, and I recently thought to print some in black, oil-based ink and then add some hand-coloring. I'm rather pleased with these two finished works.

Nautilus and Ammonite: What Remains

This is the artwork for the final double-page spread for the Nautilus and the Ammonite book project. It is paired with the final two lines of the poem:

Where heart meets heart, and no more they part
Who meet in that other land. 

The original poem uses the phrase "better land" but as a secular humanist, I simply cannot use a word so biased against this life here on earth. I opted for something more neutral, leaving readers to their own interpretations. To me, the other land is simply that of posterity, thus the word "Remember". 

Wow - after over two years this book project finally complete. As with any project that reaches an end, my feelings are a mix of joy and sadness, pride and disappointment. And then there is the shifting in mindset from creation to how to publish and get it out to an audience. For the moment, I'm just going to take some time to feel my heart swell with emotion. 

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Nautilus and Ammonite: Distant Strands

The next finished artwork for the Nautilus and the Ammonite book project. In this image the Nautilus has aged and still holds on to hope of somehow being reunited with her friend. The faded memory of the ammonite melts into dotted strands of DNA. It is a reference to the humanistic notion that scientific study will uncover significant aspects of past narratives, and somehow complete a yearning for that which seems missing from the story of life on earth. It is unclear whether this is merely a hopeful mirage or the eve of a genuine reunion of sorts.

It is meant to be paired with this partial stanza:

Yet the hope, how sweet, again to meet,
As we look to a distant strand,

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Nautilus and Ammonite: Ghosts

The next finished artwork for the Nautilus and the Ammonite book project. Here the Nautilus has given up her search and is haunted by ghosts of other, more recently extinct species. They are all species that went extinct during the age of humans and due at least partially  to human activity. This image is meant to be paired with this stanza that compares the Nautilus's loss and grief to our own:

And alike do we, on life's stormy sea,
As we roam from shore to shore,
Thus tempest-tossed, seek the loved, the lost,
And find them on earth no more. 

Monday, May 22, 2017

Nautilus and Ammonite: Passage of Time

The next finished artwork for the Nautilus and the Ammonite book project. This is the first image after the Nautilus has lost her dearest friend in the KT Event. It is meant to be paired with this stanza:

So the nautilus now in its shelly prow,
As over the deep it strays,
Still seems to seek, in bay and creek,
Its companion of other days. 

Friday, May 19, 2017

Goodbye to Soaring Gardens

My residency at Soaring Gardens Artist Retreat ends tomorrow. Ah, so bitter sweet. I will miss the smell of lilac (there are huge bushes blooming just outside my studio), the pleasant chirps of birds and crickets. I will definitely miss working in a gigantic studio with a glorious view. This really was an ideal place to focus my concentration on my work.

I'd been considering this residency for about ten years, but I only applied this year. It was never quite the right time for this space. When my oldest daughter was a toddler we discovered the delightful picture book Last Night I Dreamt A Circus, which features prose by Maya Gottfried and striking paintings by Robert Rahway Zakanitch. Inside I found that the artist specifically thanked Soaring Gardens for a residency during which he had completed the paintings. Thus I was inspired with my application to request time and space to finish my own book project, Dancing in the Garden.

I am incredibly thankful to the Ora Lerman Trust for giving me this opportunity, I feel honored to have participated in a residency also shared by many other accomplished artists such as Zakanitch, and I highly recommend this experience for other artists out there who need to clear their heads and make good art!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Nautilus and Ammonite: Fellow Travelers

The next finished artwork for the Nautilus and the Ammonite book project. Although if you have been following my progress on this blog, you know this is going backwards a bit before the KT Event takes out the ammonite. At this point in the book the two characters are still alive and on their adventures together. 

On this double page spread will read the stanza: 

And hand in hand, from strand to strand,
They sailed in mirth and glee;
These fairy shells, with their crystal cells,
Twin sisters of the sea. 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Dancing in the Garden: Autumn Glow

18" x 11" (block)
22" x 15" (paper)

This is the last work of art for Dancing in the Garden! I have been working for so many hours, so many days in a row during this residency that I feel like I can't even see straight anymore. So I don't know how I feel about this yet, but I suspect I like it. 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Dancing in the Garden: Roly Polies

18" x 11" (block)
22" x 15" (paper)

The title for this one is inspired by the pill bugs that kids love to catch and that curl up into little balls when they are frightened.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Nautilus and Ammonite: KT Event

The next finished artwork for the Nautilus and the Ammonite book project. On this double page spread the stanza that began on the previous spread is finished: 

The Almighty's breath spoke out in death, 
And the ammonite was no more. 

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Nautilus and Ammonite: The Shore

The next finished artwork for the Nautilus and the Ammonite book project. The last bit of happiness together before it gets sad.

And they came at last to a sea long past,
But a they reached its shore,

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Nautilus and Ammonite: Sleep

The next finished artwork for the Nautilus and the Ammonite book project. The background pattern reminds me of the wallpaper in my childhood bedroom. At some point we peeled it off to paint my room pink, and I remember saving a large, folded sheet of the original wallpaper as a keepsake. Sadly, I lost it in the years since. Wallpaper has gone out of fashion with most interior home decor, but I love when I encounter a home with some really beautiful patterned wallpaper. The house here at Soaring Gardens has a lot to enjoy in that respect.

This is the fifth double-page spread. It is meant to be paired with this stanza:

They sailed all day through creek and bay,
And traversed the ocean deep;
And at night they sank on a coral bank,
In its fairy bowers to sleep. 

Friday, May 12, 2017

Nautilus and Ammonite: The Tropic Life

The next finished artwork for the Nautilus and the Ammonite book project. This is the third stanza and also the third double-page spread.

And theirs was a bliss more fair than this
Which we taste in our colder clime;
For they were rife in a tropic life--
A brighter and better time.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Dancing in the Garden: Fourth Duet

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

My 2 week residency at Soaring Gardens continues! Today I completed the fourth (and final) duet woodcut for the Dancing in the Garden series. The poses were partially inspired by my daughters' creative movement classes, particularly when they try to move like various animals. Here I'm seeing a sloth and a frog just hanging out in the shade. 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Dancing in the Garden: Fuschia Solo

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

Day 5 of my 2 week residency at Soaring Gardens. This afternoon I completed the next woodcut for the Dancing in the Garden series. There are four children in the visual narrative, and each child gets a solo. This girl maintains a stalwart composure as an array of colorful notes, chords, and arpeggios sound behind her. I debated using her leotard color for the border, but in the end I decided in favor of it. It ads to the flat, surrealism of the style and medium being used. 

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Dancing in the Garden: Third Duet

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

After 3 days of rain and gloom we finally have a sunny day here at Soaring Gardens! Right after I post this I'm taking a walk.

I continue my residency with this next woodcut for the 
Dancing in the Garden series. I'm having fun deciding how to translate the complex imagery of plants I photographed a year and a half ago into this medium. In this image I'm very  much enjoying the rendering of the tree tops and branches and how they leave so much up to interpretation with regards to what is part of which tree and how far away the various swaths of green are. White line woodcuts are so distancing, but in a warm, floaty dream-like way. 

Monday, May 8, 2017

Dancing in the Garden: Hopping Down the Path, Revisited

This is a new printing of a woodcut I made for my Dancing in the Garden series. Hopping Down the Path is where I left off a year and a half ago. Now that I'm focusing my residency at Soaring Gardens on this project, it seemed necessary to continue with this image.

It's funny, when I first printed this work, I felt deeply disappointed with it. But maybe I was too close to the project or in a bad headspace at the time, because now I like it much better. For this new version I changed the color of the path to a cool grey rather than brown. I also added more texture to the grass and stripes of green shadows behind the figure. I do feel this version fits in better with the others in this series; although I accidentally made the boy's complexion more pink than it is in other renderings of his character. Above all, I'm moving in the right direction, and it feels good to be back on the Garden series.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Residency at Soaring Gardens Begins!

I arrived at Soaring Gardens Artist's Retreat yesterday. I'm spending two weeks here to get my head back into creating artwork for the book projects I've started. It's a rather secluded, beautiful place, surrounded by farms, gardens, and lots of nature. After setting up my studio I was greeted by a local rabbit, and today I watched two groundhogs chase each other around the back yard.

So far it has rained almost nonstop all weekend - which is great for getting work done in the studio! I've done quite a bit of drawing and carving and even some printing already. I might have something finished tomorrow or Tuesday, and when I do I'll post more. Until then, here are some photos of the studio I'm working in and its gorgeous view of the grounds.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Joëlle Jolivet's "Zoo-ology"

Yesterday I experienced the joy of leafing through Zoo-ology, a giant-sized (12" x 18") picturebook by French illustrator Joëlle Jolive. I discovered a copy while visiting a local nature center's library. The book is largely made up of double-page spreads of animals, boldly and colorfully rendered in linocut. Each grouping is united by eclectic themes, unrelated to each other, such as "Large and small", "Underground", and "Close to us all". Obviously I was drawn to this book initially by the relief print illustrations. Instantly I'm reminded of Christopher Wormell's stunning animal alphabet books. However, this book especially delighted me with its unusual and clever organization. There are so many animal-themed picturebooks for young children, and while many are beautiful, I rarely find one that surprises and amuses as much as this one. How could anyone not be impressed by an author/illustrator who can sensibly group a praying mantis with a whale?