We put the birds in a corner.
Jerry made all the frames from alder wood from our own trees.
It opened Friday night. On Saturday morning I could hardly get out of bed. I was that tired. Such a little show; only 20 pieces, only 9 of them new. But they all had to be framed, and the old ones were on paper and had to be matted and glazed. Jerry made all the frames and he turned out to be good at cutting mats — what a treasure. But they all had to be assembled, glazing ordered and then installed. My studio was too cold and too full of construction materials and tools to use, so the dining room table was covered with framing materials for weeks. Then I had to get ready for the party and I wanted as little interruption as possible to the routines of Jerry and the poodles, so we did our daily exercise and I cooked every day.
Here’s the show, almost complete except for a few pictures I didn’t get around to photographing.
This is an etching I did a couple of years after I finished art school. I liked to play with the works of old masters; here I made an etching after a painting by Raphael which hangs in the National Gallery, gave the Saint and his maiden cat heads and gave them a tropical setting. I have another version of this which has a second plate of aquatint, but I have not yet (20 years later) perfected the printing of that combination.
This is another piece of plagiarism, or to put it more nicely, a reference to art history. I took an image by Durer, a 13th century printmaker (a favorite of mine), put cat heads on Adam and Eve and filled paradise with little beasts. And of course, this image is colored. The original one by Durer was an engraving, black ink.
This is the work I like the best from my art school efforts. It was selected for the juried student show the year I did it, and the president of the college, Ofelia Garcia, bought one. The edition is 15, and is the last one. I sold a couple of reproductions of it at my opening the other night. The image is obviously entirely invented, though I did sometimes need to look at my own cat to get some of the heads the way I wanted them.
Horse of another color is another post art school reductive linoleum cut. The horses were drawn from photographs I took. This, too, is the last of an edition of 15.
Here is a watercolor sketch I did about 6 years ago on site here on the island. The boat is still there and the foxgloves still grow around it in early summer. Its condition has deteriorated some.
I finished up this painting for the show. The boat was moored off our beach and all the kids on the island would row out to it and party. They often left trash on the beach, but I thought it was worth taking pictures of.
Here’s another recent painting. I used a photograph that I took on the Cassiar Highway in British Columbia. It was spring and the bear was eating dandelions. It paid no attention to us, and I had to yell at it from the safety of the truck cab to make it look up for the camera.
I was just learning aquatint when I did this etching. It is mostly out of my head, but I used various photographs for some of the creatures. I never made a real edition of it, just played with various ways of printing it.
This detail of Midnight Fantasy shows the way the color of three plates laid over each other gives a full spectrum. The watery look, called aquatint, is created by using tiny specs of resin baked on the etching plate as acid resist. I love to play with different effects in printmaking.
The heron fished all summer last year on the same beach where the Hippie Boat was moored. There were actually 2 of them and they had a nest in the trees near the beach. They fished constantly for their offspring, and this spring, recently, I have seen 3 of them fishing there.
I guess by now you have guessed that I am in love with animals and the world of living things. This etching was done from a composite of photos I took at the zoo in Columbia, South Carolina many years ago. I created the image after visiting my daughter with her young family in England, and it reflects my feeling of being an outsider — no longer central in her life, but feeling that what I saw was lovely.
I started this some years ago from a photograph my mother took in China. I have worked on it and two others of the same subject off and on for some time, and finally finished this one recently. I am going to China this summer to see my daughter, and perhaps I’ll run across this dragon. I don’t actually know where it is.
Last spring The Civic Club, the island ladies club, had a tea party at which guests were supposed to wear hats. I took pictures and planned to do a series of paintings of the ladies in hats. I only got two done, and I forgot to take a picture of the other one. This one is mostly about the hat and the hands.
The coyote was painted from a photograph I took on the Alcan Highway in Yukon. Jerry doesn’t like it because he says it is too fat for a coyote. He thinks coyotes should have, like yon Cassius, a lean and hungry look. I think perhaps it was pregnant, and it has its winter coat. Coyotes are beautiful animals dressed in winter white.
The party was fun. Not as many people came as did the last time, but there was plenty of noise and conversation. Richard, the wine shop owner and host, whispered in my ear, “Nobody is looking at art, you should circulate.” You can see from these pictures that he was right.
I walked up to the wine shop on Saturday afternoon while a tasting was going on. There I met a couple of young men who said they thought that the show was the work of at least 3 different artists. I understand why. Each medium that I use seems to vary my style — if I have one. If I am working from something I see, rather than from my head, I tend to be literal. I want to get it right, and I don’t deliberately distort — at least not usually. Sometimes I play with distortion too. The friends who came to my show were about equally divided between those who like my printmaking and those who like the paintings. Other artists almost always like the prints better.
I used to worry about this lack of a consistent style. But it’s too late in life for discipline. I do want to get back to printmaking — I used to tell students when I taught it that it’s the art of liking what you get. There will always be surprises.