I’ve begun making a series of postcards. Here are the first two I’ve designed, back from the printer. These are combinations of two poems I’ve written superimposed on two of my linocuts. You can also see the postcards in my etsy shop.
I decided to give the series a name and hit upon naming them in honour of my beloved childhood dog–a beagle named Cedar.
While I was searching through my early prints for one of my first linocuts, I came across the print in this post that I made in the mid 1980s. (It’s not the print I was originally looking for.) The linocut here was an illustration for an article in the Canadian literary magazine Quill and Quire. Somewhere, I may have the actual page from the journal, but I haven’t located it yet. From what I recall, the article had to do with censorship and political repression. In that sense, it definitely fits with the mood of these times of political unrest to out and out war. Being born right after World War II and hearing many stories of it while growing up, the image also evokes shadows of the history of that war for me. The initials “SB” are from my birth name that I was still using at the time.
I’ve been working on several art projects as once. I’ll be completing the linocut from my last post. Meanwhile, I’ve taken some time to edit linocuts and poems for printing. When I get the physical postcards back from the printer, I’ll show them to you.
As I work and go about my days, part of me is always contemplating the climate of hatred in North America–the new president of the U.S., his withering executive orders, the recent murder of 6 muslim men at worship in Quebec City, Canada….
I’ve been thinking about hatred, which when left unexamined seems to me the curse of our species. Perhaps there are some people in the world who have never felt hatred, but I believe these would be in the great minority. Hatred, being a human emotion, is something any of us can feel.
I have found myself wishing to abolish hatred. However, when I’ve thought more closely about this, I realize that the greatest ill is not the hatred in our hearts. If we do the hard work of deeply looking at ourselves, we can develop the capacity to understand why we hate–what pain we have suffered that the hatred has arisen from–and not project this onto scapegoats. We have the capacity, then, to turn aside from violence of word and action. Instead, I see the greatest ill is when influential people stoke hatred and create scapegoats to gain power. This is what is most disturbing to witness at this time, both here in North America and overseas.
I didn’t know if I’d write about this on what is an art blog. Or tell you how fantastic the women’s march in Toronto on January 21st was. However, since I don’t work in a vacuum and since we are living in a critically important time in history, you have this post from me. The photo I’ve chosen is an antidote to hatred that I took several years ago while visiting friends in Saskatchewan.
I was ill over the past while and only got to printing a first proof of the Sisters of Mercy block print this past weekend. If you’re not familiar with printmaking, a proof is a print of a block that may not be fully complete. You can print the block at different stages to see how it’s coming along and whether the print needs more work. In this case, I’m happy with many aspects of the print and can see where I want to further carve the soft cut lino block. I’ll show you the process as I go along.
The two photos show the green and violet inked block to the right of the printed image. I’ve always been fascinated with the symmetries you can get in printed images by repeating them in different orientations. Here, I played with the block itself and the proof. Because they are mirror images, when I put them right up against each other I saw some neat (as in neat-o) patterns that show up in the last photo.
You can see more of my artwork in my etsy shop: artsofmay.etsy.com
It’s late in 2016. Late afternoon today the sun came splashing its light across the room.
After Leonard Cohen died, I remembered an interview I heard a few years ago with the Iranian Canadian journalist, Maziar Bahari. He had been imprisoned in Iran and falsely accused of being a spy. He was subjected to torture and didn’t know if he would live or die. One night, he had a dream that brought to mind Leonard Cohen’s song, The Sisters of Mercy. Though he had never been a fan of Cohen’s music, he felt that song had a major role in saving his life. Through it, he found a place within himself that his captors and torturers could not destroy.
Part of that interview was replayed this fall after Leonard Cohen died. I had never been drawn to The Sisters of Mercy, but as I listened to the words this autumn, I knew they would help me deal with this time of darkness in the world. So, I’ve learned the words and have begun doing some artwork related to the song. After doing several sketches, I finally arrived at one that I wanted to use. As I looked at the sketch, I could see it as a linocut and I decided to return to linocutting to create the image. I gave up linocutting around 20 years ago, though it was my favourite medium, because of repetitive strain from carving over the years. Now I considered the roving pain I have as an elder. And I thought, I already have pain, so I’m not going to be afraid of it. I’m going to return to printmaking–something I love dearly. I have found a soft lino substitute that can still have crisp lines cut into it. I’m experimenting with that and with working for shorter periods of time at a stretch. So far, this is working.
Here’s 2 photos of the carving in progress. I’m using carving tools really made for children, but that work fine! I’ll show you the print once I finish it.
Good holidays to you.
Oh the sisters of mercy, they are not departed or gone. They were waiting for me when I thought that I just can’t go on. And they brought me their comfort and later they brought me this song. Oh I hope you run into them, you who’ve been travelling so long.–Leonard Cohen
I’ve been thinking of the people of Aleppo in Syria as we hear about the terrible ongoing war there.