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.

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.