I’ve been absent in posting on this site – not out of negligence but because, 1) I’ve decided to slow things down a couple of notches. Screenprinting is so process intensive that each stage of production must be pursued with full attention and care. 2) While my original intent was to link up the commonalities found in indigenous art of the Americas and early Chinese art, I found very little factual knowledge of the cultures and philosophies underlying and propelling those arts. This is further complicated by the fact that I do not want to simply appropriate form without understanding content and intention.
These challenges did not discourage me from pursuing my original quest. I proceeded from two basic points. 1) Art is universal and can give meaning to anyone outside of its own place and time, and 2) As an artist, the only sure thing I can follow is my intuition. If I feel it, it must be true.
One area where commonalities intersect is the way animals are depicted, how animals figure in our lives. Yet, even as I studied the arts of indigenous and early Chinese peoples, I came to face the fact that, as an artist living in 21st century America, I have no tradition that I could draw upon in a way that is felt, believed and lived. How could I possibly invent imagery that is not stereotypical and superficial?
I realized that I need to start from basics. Start with animals I have some relationship with and through using the most – to me – basic of art forms: drawing. The pencil provides the most direct expressive link between what’s inside of me and what I wish to put out. The process of drawing, by itself, will be the method by which I learn to feel and understand the spirit and spiritual force that give life to indigenous and early Chinese art. At this point, I still have no visual language that could connect myself to the arts of an earlier age. My hope is that the process of drawing and bringing the images to full fruition through printmaking, I will find that language. It’s a process that I’m committed to, for however long it takes.
I am fortunate to live in the San Francisco Bay Area, where nature has not been completely wiped out, and where some areas have been restored to almost their original condition. Environmental and multicultural consciousness are strong here, all leading to a nurturing creative environment. My first close relationship to animals is, of course, with my dogs and, by extension through lineage, to wolves. I’ve already done a print of a crow, whose members are everywhere. And every time I see pelicans, I sense some ancestral recognition or memory.
Here, then, are a couple of images I’ve been working on since printing of the crow.
A week ago I finished the last of the previous series. I also experimented with mixing monoprint with silkscreen print.
Began working on a new series of prints for the Animals, Myth and Dreams theme. These images carry on the same theme but represent a new chapter in an ongoing journey. I am now using my drawings for the basic image. The purpose of these prints is one, to use hand drawn images for a more personal look and two, to transform the drawings into something different through the process of printing. It’s like a call-and-response thing between drawing and printing.
Meanwhile, back in the garden, things are taking care of themselves. The cinder block pieces seem well-taken by the garden. The blocks, at the same time, bring new energy to the space. Yesterday, I did a meditation walk through the whole garden – circling , going back and forth several times. Nice work, if I do say so myself.
Because things continue to change, the Garden Gallery will now have new photos added periodically.
It seems that things in the garden grow much more profusely when I’m not watching. From when I first planted the succulents to deal with the apparent drought, they have grown a lot – nestling into their neighbors, expanding and even bearing seed.
Now it’s raining! In the middle of August! It’s a light, misty rain, perfect for the Baby’s Tears and the succulents. It seems clear that they have become established enough to be on their own so I won’t have to water them. And now, this light rain. Perfect!
The garden has evolved much since I built it. Through changes in weather, plant growth and landscaping, it has always been the intimacy that draws my attention. Plants openly let me in on their sensuality. It’s satisfying to know that I had a hand in bringing them about.
Today Open Studio goes outside. I took Nikki for a run while I biked. We started from Golden Gate Park – JFK Drive just before the turn-in to the Polo Field. We rode to the top of the paved path at Land’s End, to our usual rest-stop and turn-around point. The sky today was strangely hazy. This is not fog, I thought. But what makes haze? I had not yet heard about the fire in Southern Oregon.
The rock that inspired the dharma dog painting and poem: Land’s End – from Travels with Dharma Dog. The sea was pretty calm today.
The smoke-filtered sunlight resonated with the red in Nikki’s fur, giving him a beautiful glow.
Finished the last run – black – today. Still need to work on some technical problems but got enough good prints for a small edition.
Last week I began color separations and screen preparation for my next – now current – print, “2 birds” (working title).
It began as a drawing I did at the beginning of the year.
Then I did a painting from it, joining other paintings in the series.
Now the painting has “mutated” into a print. Did the first run of it today.
Can’t wait to do the next run… and the next … and finish it! I have three more prints to do!
A couple of pictures of the dogs in the last few days.
Took both dogs out together the other day. We went to Baker Beach. It’s been a while since I did that. Did Trina a lot of good as she got to run and explore and play. She’s still got a lot in her. It’s better not to “over think” her age and aging.