Dream Linocut–The Search

I’m going to enter four linocuts into another exhibit at Gerrard Art Space in Toronto. It’ll be from the end of June into the first 2 weeks of July. One of the prints I’ve taken to my local framer is the one below. I carved it in the 1990s and for some reason that I can’t now recall I only printed a rough copy on newsprint. So, I’ve gone back to the lino block and have printed it on Japanese paper.

The image came from a dream I had in which my childhood dog–Cedar, a beagle, was missing and I was searching for him indoors and out. Here he is in an old photo.

The Birds of 1988

Spring is here and flowers are coming into bud wildly. The scillas have gone, but redbuds are just appearing and yesterday I saw cherry blossoms and their devotees in Trinity Bellwoods Park–a downtown west end park. Spring also means the return of birds and their songs. I hear cardinals, robins and sparrows daily. Last week I heard a chickadee and the other day–mourning doves. On the weekend, I also saw a tern with a bright orange beak at the Brickworks in Toronto.

Cherry blossoms 2018

Cherry blossoms 2018 2

Last month, I found a list I’d made in an old journal from May 1988. The list was of some of the birds I had seen on a trip to the countryside in Massachusetts and Virginia in the U.S. I don’t keep lists of birds, but I was so thrilled at the large variety that I saw during that spring migration, that I wrote them all down.  The list also brings me some sadness because I hear less birdsong on my trips to the Ontario countryside than I used to. And in the city, I am aware of losses from previous years when I used to hear more bluejays and nighthawks that have all but disappeared.

2 birds

Above is a linocut I made in the 1980s.

And here is my list from almost 30 years ago–May 12, 1988:

  • Mallards, male and female
  • 2 killdeer
  • tree swallow
  • male downy or hairy woodpecker
  • another woodpecker with red brown crest drooping downward as it cling to tree–brownish body from afar
  • white-breasted nuthatch
  • brown creeper
  • yellow warbler
  • hood warblers–male and female
  • common yellowthroat
  • yellow throated warbler
  • chestnut-sided warbler
  • gold-winged warbler
  • northern oriole–male and female
  • robins
  • rufous -sided towhee
  • blackburnian warbler
  • cardinal
  • rose-breasted grosbeak
  • purple finch
  • house finch
  • scarlet tanagers
  • mockingbirds
  • gray catbird
  • kingbirds
  • black-capped chickadee
  • titmouse
  • bluejays
  • solitary vireo–unafraid!
  • doves
  • gray-cheeked thrush
  • swainson’s thrush
  • ovenbird
  • worm-eating warblers
  • brown-headed cowbird–possibly female
  • whited throated sparrow
  • song sparrows
  • black and white warbler
  • starlings
  • red winged blackbirds

bluejay feathers

Alas, this bluejay had recently died, but I was struck by his beauty and took a photo of his feathers.

Flowers and Frames

As you may have heard, it’s been a hard week in Toronto what with a man driving a van onto a busy sidewalk and killing and injuring many people. I don’t live in the neighbourhood this happened in, but this horrendous crime has affected people around the city.  I’ve been looking for solace and have taken some from spring flowers and birds. Scilla flowers are one of my favourites. Here’s some from a garden in the neighbourhood.

Scilla 2018

Something else has helped me this week–I’ve begun taking care of my work. For years, I’ve promised myself to get a selection of my work framed and I’ve finally begun doing so. Here’s 3 linocuts I brought home from the framer this week. The frames and mats vastly improve the look of the prints.

This first linocut is one I called The Printmaker. I made it in 1973 and it’s based on myself in my workroom, carving at the table with my cat at the back and prints hung up to dry on the cloth on the wall.

framed printmaker

This next linocut is not of anyone I knew. I have always been interested in faces and wanted to carve a portrait using many marks from different gouges. I was inspired by the  works of wood engravers I’d been studying. I carved and printed her in 1984.

framed Portrait

This last print is one I thought I’d lost, but I found it 4 years ago. It’s a colour linocut from 1974. I called it At Peace and thought of the figure as meditating.

Framed Yoga

The prints span 11 years and also span my different names, from a previous married name, to a hyphenated previous married name to my birth name–none of which are my present name, but all of which referred to me at different times. See my About page for a little more on this.

Before and After the Ice Storm

On my walks around my neighbourhood in Toronto, I notice small sights and sounds. Around ten days ago, and before last weekend’s ice storm, I came upon these soggy leaves in a garden. The long white and grey leaf looked very much like a wing to me. I had to look closely at first to see what it was.

 leaf wing

Then, this past Tuesday, when the ice was starting to recede and people had done some cleaning up, I saw these small branches and twigs. Someone had beautifully bundled them and they looked to me like part of an art installation.

After the ice storm 1

And, a little further on I saw leaves of bulbs, dried grasses and twigs through the ice in someone’s garden. I liked the contrast of the plants with the white ice.

After the ice storm

As for what catches my ear these days–the birds are singing away. I noticed their return a few weeks ago. Not that some didn’t overwinter, but the increase in song was very apparent. I heard my first robin’s spring song last week. And I’ve been hearing cardinals, red winged blackbirds and the many house sparrows that accompany my walks year round.

On the art front, my block prints are finally dry and I’m about to pack them up and submit them to BIMPE. I’ll be sending them to Vancouver on Monday. Then I’ll be able to turn my attention to other projects.

Little Face Lino

It’s a beastly day here in Toronto–the whole weekend we’ve had freezing rain and ice pellets. Wind and rain are due tonight. To the rescue comes a little linocut I made in the ’80s or ’90s. I unearthed this forgotten piece just before working on the prints I’m going to enter into the miniature print show, BIMPE. It’s a simple little face that has a bit of a mysterious feel to me. I printed it on newsprint paper as a reminder of it. Here’s a detail of the repeated pattern I printed and the lino itself. I don’t recall if I ever printed the little face when I made it. If I did it would have been part of a larger design. I’m going to print a few impressions on good paper and give it the attention I think it’s due.

 

Changes

I’ve finally completed the block prints I’ll be sending to the miniature print show in Vancouver, Canada. Two of the three I showed in Proofs and the Past have either changed or been eliminated. The blue print called Dreamscape is the one that remains. Here it is printed on Japanese paper:

The print I thought of as a skull or mask changed when I experimented with repeating  it and liked it better than the original.  Here it is also on Japanese paper:

And I eliminated a tiny third one I had quite liked but felt it didn’t quite hold up. Instead, I carved a simple design in a lino substitute taken from a painting I did a couple of months ago. Just at the point where I had pushed the carving to where my back was starting to hurt, I stopped. The next day, though I had doubts about the outcome, I thought I might as well take a proof of the block.  I liked the results. Here’s photos of the block in progress and the single print.

I continued experimenting and liked the effect of printing the block upside down on itself. This led me to try ten different versions. Here’s nine of them:

And here’s the tenth version that I’ve decided to send in. It’s printed red first with yellow on top, which I only thought to do after trying several the other way round with the light layer first. This was all a lot of work, but very intriguing in that sometimes I had no idea what the outcome might be. That’s where the fun comes in.