Gouache Woodcut Collage

I’ve been looking for a new direction in my work over the past few months and have posted some of my ideas on the blog. Yet none of them have stayed with me as a path to follow–not the ideas for a dystopian card deck, nor the series on the heart. One thing I have been thinking of for years is to bring together the art works I’ve done during my life and create something new with them. I’ve done a little of that by making origami booklets out of some old prints. But recently I may have hit on something that holds promise for further work.

A few weeks ago, I began an acryl gouache painting from a line drawing I had made. The painting went through several stages but never felt skillful enough to me. Finally I decided to paint over most of the image in red and to paste parts of an old woodcut over the painting. Afterwards, I added more paint, mostly to the pieces of the woodcut. Below are some of the stages the work went through. I enjoyed the process and am now working on another piece. I am trying to draw together parts of my life with this process–the young artist and the elder.

Flying Cards

I’ve recently had various bouts of illness. During this time, I have slowly completed print ready files of the Mirrors of the Heart card deck and have sent them off to the printer. When they are completed, I’ll show you their new look.

Also, while resting, I’ve been reworking some more of my earlier art work. Here are 3 hanging ornamental pieces I’ve made combining segments of a woodcut I made in the 1970s and extra hand coloured cards from the card deck. I’ve also added decorative starched transparent papers that I wish I could trace to a distributor again. They’re the shapes growing out of the rectangles. If the papers look familiar to anyone,  please let me know.

I’ll be putting some of these pieces in my etsy shop soon.

 

 

 

 

 

Black Waterfall Poem Booklet

I’ve completed an accordion booklet with my writing about Milne’s Black Waterfall painting. You can see the initial idea in Poem for an Old Woodcut. There’s other related posts following that one. I decided to print my writing on thin Japanese paper and adhere it to the booklet.  Here’s some photos of it from different angles. I like seeing different parts of the print showing through the paper in the light.

 

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A Poem for An Old Woodcut

As I continue turning some of my early prints into booklets, I’m playing around with words I might include with the prints. This last print I’ve been working with (the one that’s also in my previous post) has a lot of black ink in it.  And that got me thinking about some writing I did a few years ago. In 2014 I took a poetry writing workshop at the Art Gallery of Ontario.  After our meetings, I’d often wander around the Gallery, looking at various art works.  This prose and poem came out of one of those meanderings.  I’m contemplating the design of the booklet and will show it to you when I’ve completed it.

Here’s another photo of the woodcut I plan to use that I’ve cut down the middle.

FormVariation4thCut

And here’s the prose and poem:

Black Waterfall

On a day when the tomb-like qualities of the gallery seep into me too much, I enter the rooms of David Milne’s paintings looking for peace.  I find some here, away from the more flashy works of Lauren Harris and Frank Carmichael.  Milne’s are quieter, less assuming, but they give back to me, emitting life.

I stand looking at one that I like.  It’s called Black Waterfall, a scene in the woods by a small falls.  The water is, indeed, black, the colours subdued.  After many minutes, I am surprised to see what I hadn’t noticed: Milne, himself, at his easel in the upper left of the painting.  He’s the same colours as the trees, rocks and earth.  He has disappeared into the scene or become one with it.  I like the humility, the humour and the wisdom of his image, considering where the alienation from nature has taken humanity.

This is a painting I can carry with me, softening the dense traffic of the city, helping me inhale forested air where rivers flow, while the ghost of the artist amidst the trees silently witnesses my passing presence.

*

By the black waterfall

the painter has disappeared

into the trees, rocks and soil

where, being invisible,

he can more closely observe passersby

and the woods and water he’s depicting

camouflaged at his easel like a deer

but not bolting

steady of hand and sight

neither a conqueror

nor a slave

embodying a gentle way

to save a life.

©Lily S. May–May 2014

Reading Old Prints, 3

The most recent origami booklet I’ve made is from a woodcut I carved and printed in 1973. It’s called Forth Form Variation and is from a series I did playing around with several shapes. I used two pine boards that I lined up to make the whole image. I have loved trees since childhood and I enjoyed making an image that felt powerful to me.

When I measured the actual print size, I saw that if I cut the print in four, I could wind up with different sized square booklets. After I made the first cut, I flipped the parts of the original around and placed them next to each other to create different designs. I’ve got a photo of one of these arrangements below.  This is a process I’ve always enjoyed. I used a variation of it in some of my prints. I’d print the original block in different colours and overlap the colours in two stages, orienting them in opposite directions.  I loved the surprising designs that emerged.

Here’s also photos of the first of the four booklets. I kept it quite simple, only adding a bit of colour with Pitt markers.

And late last week I uploaded the transformed print from my July 20th post to my etsy shop.

Fourth Form Variation, Woodcut, ©1973, Lily S. May under previous married name, Susan Barsel-Herman.
Fourth Form Variation, Woodcut, ©1973, Lily S. May under previous married name, Susan Barsel-Herman.

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Orange Girl Woodcut

Here’s another woodcut–this time it’s one of the first I made.  Some of the earliest prints I made began as scribbled drawings.  In “Orange Girl,” I included some the lines from the drawing in the print, showing its origins.  I recall that I experimented with carving a hard wood–either maple or oak.  It wasn’t easy, but a hard wood produces very crisp lines.  “Orange Girl” is a subtraction print, one in which you gradually carve away more of the block as you print each colour.  There’s no going back because by the end, much of the block is carved away.  In this case, only the grey blue areas remained on the wooden block.

Orange Girl, Woodcut, ©1972 by Lily S. May under former married name, Susan Herman.
Orange Girl, Woodcut, ©1972 by Lily S. May under former married name, Susan Herman.