The Lion’s Birdnote

As I’m going through my old journals, I find forgotten elements–particularly the content of dreams.  A few weeks ago, I came upon a curious and appealing dream fragment from June of 1993. At that time, I awoke with words telling me that centuries would pass before we discovered that the “L” in “Lion” was understood as its birdnote. I loved this strange sentence and decided to make a linocut from the words.

The lino that I’ve used is the same soft cut material that I used for the Sisters of Mercy print. It is very much easier to cut than the tough grey or brown burlap backed battleship linoleum that I used as a young woman. I’ve taken the first proof (rough copy) of the print and will work on it further.  I plan on leaving the final print quite similar to this first proof–it just needs a bit of further carving and experimentation with the colours.

Here’s the inked green lino and the hand printed proof.


You can see more of my artwork in my etsy shop at

Final Proof–Sisters of Mercy

I have finally returned to the block print inspired by Leonard Cohen’s Sisters of Mercy. Though at first glance this proof looks the same as the earlier one, I have added a few details to the mouths and hands that I felt were needed. And I’m happy with the results.

The ink I’ve been using on these rough copies is actually a deep violet though it looks nearly black. So my next step will be to pick up white ink and see if adding some will bring out the violet more. I’ll show you the results once I’ve done that.


Early Linocut–Monk Bird


Monk Bird Lino
Monk Bird linocut, copyright Lily S. May under former married name, 1971

As I meander through the art work I’ve done, I wanted to show you this linocut I made when I was just learning printmaking. I called this print “Monk Bird” because I thought the bird looked like a monk of sorts. The photo here is of a proof I made, meaning it’s not one of the finished edition or set number of prints. I was still learning to be steady with the block and not blur the image as I hand printed it.

This is another subtraction print in which I carved the same block in stages for each colour. I was inspired by the powerful shapes in Inuit prints I saw around Toronto at the time. The print has an interesting story connected to it. It was part of a group exhibit shown at OISE–The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. There, the print was stolen from the wall. At the time, I was not disturbed by this. I felt it was a complement of sorts, though it would have been nice to receive payment for the print.