60 – 40

I’ll return to showing photos from my trip to Italy, but first wanted to post this block print I made this week. I carved the print from a rubbery material that’s easy to carve yet that gives smooth crisp edges. This helps me counter repetitive strain from years of printmaking. I didn’t plan the image ahead of time because I enjoy the energy I get from working more spontaneously.  Since returning from Italy, I’ve done a few line drawings of my impressions of Venice and needed to do more work.

As I carved this print, and saw it was an animal, I thought of the terrible recent news from the World Wildlife Fund that the population of wild animals has decreased by 60% since 1970!! I can see the animal in this print being either a ghost of the 60% or one of the 40% whose life may also be imperilled.

Here’s the block and print laid out on wild Mexican oilcloth that covers my work table:

And here’s the print on its own:

From the Ponte Vecchio

Here’s one of my favourite photos from my trip to Italy and certainly of my time in Florence. The Ponte Vecchio means the Old Bridge and it is lined with shops selling gold jewellery. But there is a spot on each side of the bridge that is open to the river Arno. There, in mid September, we stood looking out at a scene so beautiful to us that it still returns to me here in Toronto. It was one of those days I was glad to be alive.

In Rome

I haven’t known where to begin writing and posting photos about my recent trip to Italy. So I’ve decided to start in Rome where my husband and I started out in September. We visited some of the big sites, sacred and profane: the Sistine Chapel where I got to see the incredible frescos of Michelangelo that I had never dreamt I’d actually see in person, the enormous Trevi fountain, the Pantheon etc. We saw many small churches on the streets that we went into for maybe 10 or 15 minutes at a time, amazed at the architecture, the artwork and lavishness of those places. The largest of all the churches we went to was Saint Peters Basilica in the Vatican. I have loved the works of Michelangelo since I was a teenager and wanted to see the Pieta there so we included a stop in the Basilica after going to the Sistine Chapel.

There are a great many churches in  Rome and we viewed all of them from the vantage point of outsiders because we are Jewish. And so one day we also went to the area that had been a Jewish ghetto. There we saw the outside of a large synagogue and Jewish restaurants near golden cobblestones memorializing people who had been deported to Auschwitz in World War II. By the former ghetto there were also the remains of a theatre and temples from earlier times and to other gods. 

We also had wonderful times simply walking on small, sometimes very narrow, streets where there were no large landmarks. Just seeing the architecture and feeling the atmosphere was a great experience—very different from Toronto where I live where so many buildings that are not nearly as old as those in Rome are torn down to put up new condos. 

Here’s a few photos I took during that time.

The side of the Pantheon:

Pieta by Michelangelo in St. Peter’s:

Ceiling in St. Peter’s:

A memorial to Jews deported from the ghetto to Auschwitz:

Remains of old temples adjacent to the old Jewish Ghetto:

On a bridge across the Tiber river from the Trastevere neighbourhood:

Flowers, Flowers:

The Print That Got In

I’ve just gotten back from a wonderful trip to Italy–somewhere I’ve never been. I didn’t draw while there but saw some fabulous artwork and architecture and took many photos that I’ll be showing here.

On returning home I saw that a catalogue had been produced for BIMPE X, the miniature print exhibit I’d entered in the spring. All I knew was that at least one of my submissions had been accepted, so I scrolled through the online version of the catalogue until I found my entry. And, as often happens in life, I was in for a surprise. It turns out that the chosen print was the simplest and most straightforward of the three I had entered and the one I least expected to get in. Here’s to the merits of simplicity.

To see the great full catalogue, go to:


Picking up the Threads

Around a month ago, I began thinking about some scratchboard drawings I made in 2016. ( see my post from Feb. 19/2016) I had set them aside because I didn’t know the completed form I wanted them to take. I decided to return to them to see if I could get any further. I believe I now have a plan that will work for me. I’m going to have them printed as a small deck with 1 or 2 introductory written cards. The rest, at this point, will solely be the images. I’m also thinking about including writing on the card backs. This likely will be from the original stories I wrote about the dream characters that began this whole exploration. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Weekend in the Parks

We recently traveled out of town northwest of Toronto for 4 days. There we hiked in Algonquin Provincial Park and in Limberlost Forest and Wildlife Reserve amidst trees and lakes. Here’s 2 photos I took while away. The first is in Algonquin Park at an incredibly quiet lake with only the call of a loon.

This next is from Limberlost Reserve where these trees were great characters:


This is the work I showed a detail of in my last post. It has gone through extreme changes and finally developed into this image that I am now going to stop working on and let be.  In some ways it’s an awkward piece and I felt it was trying to tell me something, so I wrote about it. Here’s the print/painting/collage:

And here’s the writing, be it prose or poetry:

Now the fragments of my sharp childhood become pieces of old paper, old carved imprints cut and torn and glued to something stable so I don’t whirl apart. I glue and paint and ask the pieces what they are, how can paint and print relate, how can the parts talk to each other–easily or not, like I do when awake in the dark unable to move. Here paint moves, the print says something in a language I can’t quite place which is good because it’s like a dream, beyond my intentions. And in order to hold this uneasy work together, I frame it in a strange landscape, so it doesn’t fly away yet but shows its strange self perhaps howling at the sky. Something or someone sees. That’s what matters–some consciousness even in sinister times and the beauty, the possible beauty of colour and an awkward curved or straight line. 

Old and new, what’s become of the fragments falling through air–old voices and hands, dried petals and leaves, paper flowers, old garlands and sea shells falling lightly to earth forming sand out of lives once lived, the sand on which I walked as a child collecting spiral shapes kind enough to place my dreams in, the sand that I and this work are becoming even as summer passes into fall.