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.



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.

The Must See Kimonos of Itchiku Kubota

Some of the most beautiful works of art I’ve ever seen are now on display at the Textile Museum of Canada in Toronto. Itchiku Kubota created the 41 kimonos in this show between 1976 and 2003, when he died at the age of 86. If you live in or near Toronto, this show is on until May 13th. The kimonos combine many elements–embroidery, ink drawing, resist and tie dying–to create the scenes that often travel across several kimonos, creating panoramas of nature and the cosmos. The kimonos are of different seasons and parts of the universe–so some are very brightly coloured and others, more muted. Here’s some photos I took at this excellent exhibit.


Proofs and the Past

Some highlights from the past week:

First, The Proofs: I’ve continued working on rough proofs, trial block prints, that I’ll be submitting to BIMPE–Biennial International Miniature Print Exhibition. I’ve gotten them to the point where I’m ready to print them in their final form. Here’s the three of them. I think of the first as a dreamscape, the second as a view across fields and the third as a skull or a view behind a mask.

Second, The Past: While at Bathurst and Bloor Streets this past weekend, I took the following photographs. The southwest corner of this intersection in Toronto was known for decades as the home of a large discount store called Honest Ed’s. It had a famous sign that has been preserved, but the building has recently been demolished. Seeing an open space where it used to be was shocking enough. But, seeing the old advertising signs that had been hidden, that were painted on the adjacent wall was another surprise. And, before this wall of old ads and new graffiti is erased in the city’s high rise construction frenzy, I took some photos as a remembrance. 

This Past Week

Here’s two photos from a mostly grey, flurrying day in Toronto last Friday, March 9th. The clouds and mist over the ravines always draw my attention with their endless beautiful variations. And I loved the look of this church I passed–the deep red and brown brick, the trees’ branches above. These scenes from the city–they continue to sustain me.

This week, I bought a Japanese paper for the miniature prints I’m going to submit to BIMPE and I’ve been pondering and making thumbnail sketches for the Wake Up card deck that I’m planning.  I also continued a gouache painting on the Heart theme that I’ve begun. I often work on several projects at once with them all rolling around in my mind and on paper or board.  Just when I thought I’d lost a thread forever, as with the card deck, it reappeared. I feel all these are part of a larger creative venture, despite any doubts I may have at times.


Over the past few weeks, I’ve been making rough proofs–trial prints–of several linoleum and soft linoleum blocks to see which, if any, I will enter into an international miniature juried print exhibition.  In these, I’m working on design elements mainly.  I printed the blocks on newsprint paper, taped them to bookcases to view and tried various combinations of overprinting and colour.  It was an enjoyable exercise. The ones in the photos are not the prints I’ll be entering, but were an important part of the process of choosing where to go next. I’ve picked three prints that I’ll now experiment printing with different colours and on different papers until I get the ones I’m happiest with.  I’ll show you these later on.

I’m also about to launch into some further paintings on the chambers of the heart theme.



Kusama Exhibition

I’m a member of the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto. As a  member, I had the chance to see a preview of the Yayoi Kusama exhibit on Thursday. Getting a ticket for the show was a very long process. I was in a virtual line for 7 hours and could only do that because I was working at home all day with no outside appointments to interfere. After a while, I viewed the process with some hilarity and didn’t know if I was a sheep being lured by all the hype, but I decided to see for myself.

I’m very glad I went to the show. I enjoyed it greatly–not only the infinity rooms that you step inside for 20 seconds and see a variety of lights, shapes and yourself and others mirrored many times over, but also her paintings, collages and sculptures. And I found her meditations on life and death very meaningful since I’m old and have always, at any rate, had an awareness of death close by my side.

Here’s some of the photos I took. The first two are of some of the infinity rooms. I am not into selfies in general, but I took photos of the rooms. Even doing that, I felt I was giving in to the obsessive nature of snapping cell phone pics and not experiencing the present. But because the crowds were not extreme on Thursday morning, I doubled back later and stood in the rooms without taking photos.

The first infinity photo is of The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away.

This next Infinity Room is called Aftermath of Obliteration of Eternity.

This is a giant globe you peer into in a room filled with giant pink and polka dotted spheres.

Though the Infinity Rooms were very beautiful and thought provoking, her paintings and sculptures were my favourite part of the show. Here, though I took some photos to remember the pieces, I was able to take time to contemplate the works for as long as I wanted. I loved the wild shapes of the sculptures and the colours and shapes of the paintings.

I believe this large sculpture is called Surrounded by Heartbeats. It had particular meaning for me because of the series of work I’m about to start on the theme of the heart.

This next painting, one of my favourites, (although all were powerful) is called My Heart’s Abode.

And this next is Story After Death. The titles of all the paintings were listed on diagrams at each end of the displays. When I saw this title, I figured I better pay close attention to whichever painting it was. Being an elder, I figured I could learn something about what may await me. Earlier in the exhibit, with her collages, I saw a quote from her friend, Joseph Cornell that I loved. He said “I never forget about death, it’s like going from this room into the next.” 

I haven’t spoken about Kusama’s political activism or her openly confronting her fears about sex. There are many layers to think about in seeing her work. But I’ll end with a quote that made me laugh though it’s extremely serious. It’s from the 1960’s, when she became part of the Vietnam War protests. As part of that, she staged one-off guerrilla style performance art pieces that involved nude gatherings. She called these Anatomic Explosions. I loved part of the open letter that she sent to U.S. president Richard Nixon that, alas, remains so relevant today.

In it, she wrote, “You can’t eradicate violence by using more violence…Lose yourself in the timeless stream of eternity…Anatomic explosions are better than atomic explosions.”