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August 26, 2011


It's a pleasure to see this work unfold and read your reflections about it. May I ask if it's a linocut?

Thanks, Robert. Yes, it's a linocut.

you are inspiring again.
I'm curious about the venetian red, tho...
is it just a gleam in your eye at this point? (feel free to keep your process veiled for now)

Gorgeous explorations, in body of art, in hands on words. Love (lovelovelove) the linocut. Love.

I've been immersed in my day job, but your essay is feeding a longing for more art in my life. Thank you!

Hi Vivian -- Ah, you noticed the Venetian red. Well, as you remember, I studied Greek art, and probably became a designer because of those vases (red on black, black on red.) A long time ago I did a print (that I thought would be the first of many) using black figures on a Venetian red ground. Cassandra, I expect, will be returning to this theme in the future. Or perhaps (looking at the blog design theme) she never got off it...

Deb, thank you so much! We all need more art in our lives, and that is my wish for you! I'm grateful our lives have worked sort of the way we planned, working hard at the "day job" when young and middle-aged to buy time for later, which is becoming now...

Beth, I love the print, it's a great development from the earlier drawings. Printmaking is a wonderful medium for exploring one theme in many variations.
One of many interesting techniques is to roll up the same block again in a different colour (or even white) then place it face down on the print you've already taken, ever so slightly off-register. Flip over paper and block together quickly so they don't move then spoon-rub to make the new print.
All this is easier with a press but hand-printing also achieves beautiful results.

Awesome print. And I like your observations about obsessiveness. Too often in my poetry I've tended to shy away from writing about things I've written about before -- the banjo series is one notable exception. I worry about boring people, which is irrational since some of my favorite poets were quite obsessive in their choice of subjects.

Love what you're doing, dear heart. I have so much to talk about with you... how can we ever arrange to take a long walk together.. and LONG talk? Being a few hundred miles apart is not helpful.
Your first photo is so thrilling. I felt, on first seeing it, as though I were flying low over rivers and valleys. Your prints are handsome, strong, and full of purpose. Isn't it exhilarating to be in flow? I feel I am, too.

A fulfilling evolutionary process here, from drawings through paintings and now back to the drawings and on to a lino-block. The resulting print is something to be really proud of. It has real presence and energy Beth. Well done!

i too like the unusual low-perspective photograph of the block. Ploughed fields!

Hey Dave, thanks! Yes, I've been surprised how fruitful it's been to keep working on the same subject. In art that may be easier or more interesting for the audience than it is in poetry because each version can be so obviously different, and show an evolution. I guess I figure if I'm not bored, then maybe the audience won't be, because that energy will show in the work. What do you think?

Thank you so much, Laura! Yes, I am excited and grateful to be not only returning to my art but moving strongly forward. I'm glad to hear you feel you're in flow, it certainly seems that way from the "chi" that seems to be flowing through your drawings as well! When the landscape and nature speak to us and move us, I feel we are tapping into a conversation that is meant to be and is very powerful, especially now when so many people seem completely alienated and fearful of nature. Art is a way of mediating that anxiety and communicating something that must be said. Your paintings are full of joy and wonder, as well as beauty. I feel the need to move beyond mere beauty...and the prints are helping me find a way to do that.

Thank you, Clive! Working away with some real time to devote to it now, and it feels good. Once I get the techniques and paper choices more in hand, I will do some work that is larger and more ambitious. It's clear to me that landscape is a way for me to avoid grappling with the figure...though it has attractions and power of its own.

I absolutely love the print - it's everything the earlier works had me groping for and not quite catching. I'm surprised and intrigued that it is, because I thought one of the things I wanted with this much move towards abstraction was colour - clearly not necessarily, if there is enough shape and depth and texture.

Thanks, Jean! I'm absolutely delighted if that's the case, because on reflection I decided that what really got me about this place were the intersection and juxtaposition of strong, mostly-falling forms, and the lightness of the rocks, the water, and the scoured and eroded soil contrasted with the dark patches of forest. All of that is exaggerated in the print, but none of it ultimately seemed dependent on color - in fact, color might lessen the impact of these elements, don't you think?

You manage to keep this work dynamic, even as you work it over. Really nice.

Like it! Full of energy.

I think Clive is a good model for that sense of sustained exploration where you keep turning up new ground, new angles of vision. He will do a series and sometimes later on go back and do another, very different from the first. Looking around his studio and peering in his sketchbooks, I saw that he had worked with key images many more times that one would imagine--he tosses off many, many small studies (and evidently Peter rescues many from the "bin.")

I have some other painter friends who work that way and another whose work seems to inch forward, each connected to the last. Edvard Munch worked and re-worked prints and paintings to a degree that astonished me when I was a mere sprat at a big UK show in the 70's. But I suppose with other artists there is more connection piece to piece that sometimes appears.

And now I am wondering whether the 20th-century change in many art schools from teaching skills and tools and materials to de-skilling and de-materializing and promoting ideas and theory might not have created a mindset where that kind of organic growth from piece to piece was considered a failure and old-fashioned. But we are in a time when ateliers are springing up, it seems, and rebel artists are returning to forgotten modes to paint for today. I see among a number of my friends, at least, a return to narrative in painting as well.

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Who was Cassandra?

  • In the Iliad, she is described as the loveliest of the daughters of Priam (King of Troy), and gifted with prophecy. The god Apollo loved her, but she spurned him. As a punishment, he decreed that no one would ever believe her. So when she told her fellow Trojans that the Greeks were hiding inside the wooden horse...well, you know what happened.