Thursday, May 29, 2008

A WOODblock Print!

The ancestrial carving tools arrived last weekend and here they are! They belonged to my husband's Great Aunt Fan, who lived at Washington Square in New York City next door to Edward Hopper. She summered in Port Clyde, Maine, in a shore-front cottage she named "Christmas Tree." Aunt Fan once wrote a letter to Albert Payson Terhune, author of Lad, A Dog, to ask what kind of dog would best suit her lifestyle. He recommended a Scottie and she took his advice. I think Aunt Fan did relief carving and chip carving with these tools. I don't think she did any woodblock prints, but look what I've done with them!

Canadian Goose
4" x 6" Woodcut

This goose came to dinner one night at the Irandar, a 40' wooden trawler that belongs to our friend Irving. We go cruising in British Columbia with Irving on his lovely boat each summer for ten days. Irving is a fabulous chef, but the goose and her gaggle of friends were quite happy with a box of Cheerios. Here's Irandar anchored in Frances Bay, Desolation Sound. Irving is filming the skyline from the stern.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Another Face from the Farm

Llama Babe
5" x 7" pen and ink

My friend Gail lives in Texas and is surrounded by farms -- llama farms, horse farms, miniature donkey farms, even a buffalo farm -- and they're all having babies right now! I'm so jealous! Gail sent me a snapshot of this baby llama. I love his asymetrical nose. It reminds me of my self-portrait!

And here's my "Faces from the Farm" exhibit hanging in our living room. The sculpture below was welded by one of Tom's students at Maine Maritime Academy. Her friend's father had died in a car crash and she made the sculpture in memory of him. She called it "Sorrow."

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Here's Gussie!

Another PenPets Pin-up stars in his own book! Gussie was "Mr. February" -- Such a sweet Valentine! -- in Dog Days 2007, and look where he is now! Catapulted right into literary fame! You can check out Gussie's book on his "Mom's" website Storylines. Mary Littlefield is a personal historian (and a cousin!). She says that, unlike a geneologist, who creates family trees, a personal historian "puts the leaves on the family tree." Mary creates books--big and little, audios, and videos of people's (and pets'!) life stories. Gussie's is a little book, but he was a dog with a great big heart! Here he is in pen-and-ink. My Valentine!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Bard College, An Airy House, and a Happy Hog

Last month Tom and I went to Bard College for the weekend to see our niece Emmy's senior art show. Emmy's sculpture was an elegant and ethereal rendering of her San Francisco house--almost life-sized--fashioned out of black and white embroidery yarn, fishing weights, and magnets. It was by far the most compelling sculpture in a whole warehouse full of senior art projects. Are we prejudiced? You bet! Here's a shot of the artist (the blonde) and her sister, Mika (the brunette), inside Emmy's "house." It's not nearly as remarkable in the photograph as it was in real life.

Harley Davidson, this happy hog, lived in the backyard of our rental house in New York State. He's smiling because he's dodged the frying pan and plans to live a long and happy and healthy life in the beautiful Hudson Valley. Who wouldn't be happy standing knee-deep in mud!

I've added Harley to my series of "Faces from the Farm." On Sunday afternoon, Tom pounded 11 holes into our livingroom wall and hung the whole exhibit. I'll post a photo soon.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Kitten Cuddles

Butler & Mercedes

8" X 10" pen-and-ink


I finished this drawing last week. Aren't they a couple of cuties! When I delivered it to Liz, she cried. Both Butler and Mercedes are gone now, but Liz will have this portrait to remember them by. None of our pets live long enough, do they!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Block Printing -- Argggggh!

It’s been a week and a half since I took my block printing workshop and, try as I might, I have not morphed into a master block printer yet. Imagine! I’ve hacked a few perfectly good pine boards to bits and I’ve mangled just as many linoleum blocks as well. Then I looked at an old Mary Azarian calendar and I was ready to slit my wrists with a dull v-gouge. How does she do it? Siri Beckman, my block-printing guru, says I don't have the proper carving tools. So I’m blaming my lack of equipment and not my lack of inspiration, enthusiasm, or elbow grease. A neice will rush the family heirloom set of wood carving tools to Brooksville Memorial Day weekend, and I’ll give them a try. If they aren’t adequate, I’ll spring for a set of real carving tools—maybe two sets!—one for wood and the other for linoleum. I’m still excited about this art form and I’m determined to master it. Here’s the only linoleum block print I carved in the past week that I half-way like. It's based on a photograph by Holly Merrow:

4" X 6" linoblock print


Wednesday, May 7, 2008

A Cat Lover's Delight

One of my models has written a book, Chloe Anne: Force of Nature, with a little help from her person, Valerie Oblath. I'm sorry I don't have a color scanner, but the green on the book cover perfectly matches the green of Chloe Anne's eyes. This is a must read for cat lovers. Chloe Anne is a full-bodied character--both coy and comical--and she'll charm you with her wise-cracking take on her drama-packed life as a California cat.

Here's what Chloe Anne has to say about her PenPets modeling career on her website: "Before I became famous, like all femme fatales, I felt the need to do a little artistic modeling. Like my predecessor and idol, Marilyn Monroe, I posed au naturel for calendars and gift cards. And the poses were so tateful, who could possibly find fault with this youthful indiscretion? Why, I was even named "Miss February 2006" for the PenPets Calendar." And here's her risque pose!

Chloe Anne's housemates, Cinders and Cortes, play starring roles as supporting actors in the book, and they are every bit as entertaining, although not quite as flamboyant, as Chloe Anne.

Monday, May 5, 2008

A New Block Print

4" X 6" Block Print

Here she is -- my beautiful babe! A bit manic looking with one big eye and one little eye, but, truth be told, Kinsey was a bit manic as a pup. She just about did us in with her constant testing of limits! Now that she's learned to set firm limits and we've learned to honor them, we all get along much better.

I had a blast at the Haystack workshop! Bounced out of bed at 5:00 AM and couldn't wait to jump in the car and drive to Deer Isle. We carved all morning, then spent the afternoon printing. It definitely got me hooked on block printing. My husband, Tom, has some pine boards he'll donate to my cause, and my friend Judy has loaned me her tools. Nice to have a woodworker and a retired art teacher on my team!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Block Printing

Tomorrow I go to Haystack Mountain School of Crafts on Deer Isle for an Island Workshop Day. I'll be in Siri Beckman's Block Printing Workshop.
I haven't made a block print since 1974 in Perugia, Italy, at the Accademia di Belle Arti Pietro Vannuci. I was 18 years old, half-way through college, and studying Italian, Life Drawing, and Graphic Arts for six weeks. This is what I carved out of my woodblock. I think it's a self-portrait. Yikes!

"Italian Self-Portrait"
Summer 1974

Tomorrow I'll steer clear of my own face 34 years later in favor of this sweet young thing.

"Kinsey at Eight Weeks Old"

Kinsey is my muse, subject of many drawings and photographs. She likes nothing better than to preen and pose in front of a camera, although she's not fond of the long hours I subsequently spend drawing her. I hope to add a beautiful block print to my collection of Kinsey art soon!