Well, it's been a while since I last posted on this blog. But I have good reason to now...The piece I've been working on for some time is finally finished, photos and all.
One of the reasons it took me this long is I kept on re-carving areas I felt could be improved upon. Above, you see an example of this. But I finally decided the carving was finished. Then, it was time for the painting....
It's a strange feeling covering over the wood with paint, but here I go....
The painting underway....
The relief still on the carving stand, but the painting almost finished. Then there is the photography...
And finally, the finshed piece...
Persistent Lines of Trauma ~ poplar, casein paint ~ 38" w. x 22" h. 2" d.
A closer view...
And a detail view. Now...onto other things....
Photo credit: Georgia DNR - taken under NOAA permit 20556
It was fairly big news back in December 2021 when the right whale known as Snow Cone gave birth to a calf while entangled in fishing gear. This photo of Snow Cone and her calf was taken off the Georgia coast, and clearly shows the entangling rope.
And here is a screenshot of the headline and part of the story from a CTV News article from three days ago, about Snow Cone, unfortunately, still entangled and worsening in condition. Her calf was not spotted. Hopefully it will turn up somewhere alive and well, but we will see. Very sadly, right (and other) whale entanglements continue to happen, and this brings me to the sculpture that I am currently working on....
The still as yet unfired terracotta maquette...
And one of the two poplar boards I used to get the full width I wanted for the carving. This is the wider of the two, showing the slots cut into matching areas on the boards which will help properly align the boards while gluing. I placed the slots where they will either be cut away, or buried deep within the final sculpture.
And here the boards are being glued up to make the panel I'll be carving.
And here, where the carving is as of now. Most of the basic shapes are in, but a lot of refining still to be done.....
North Atlantic Right Whale ~ The End of the Line?
poplar, acrylic paints 14" h. x 40" w. x 2" d.
I have already written much in this blog about critically endangered right whales, and some of the threats to their continued existence they are facing. So I won't add a lot more on the subject, other than to say that what we choose to do about these threats now, and in the near future, will determine if any of these whales will still be here in twenty years. I hope we will make the right choices...
I have finally finished a new print.....one that I have been working on for longer than I've ever spent on a print before. It is another image of one of those amazing creatures...the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale. As I have written previously in other posts on this blog, because we humans continue to injure and kill these whales, primarily by entanglements in fishing gear and ship strikes, they are right at the edge of extinction. Their population has declined by almost 25 % in less than a decade. With only around 70 breeding females remaining, many of whom have had their ability to bear young severely compromised due to these injuries, the future for these whales is not looking good....We are killing them far faster than they can reproduce. Scientists are warning us that unless we drastically reduce these injuries and deaths, they will be functionally extinct in 20 years.
Having been lucky enough to have spent a few hours in the presence of some of these whales, it is my feeling that it would be an unforgivable crime if we humans cannot be bothered to make the changes necessary to allow these beautiful creatures to recover....and to thrive once again.
Back in 2008, I had one of the most incredible experiences of my life, when a good friend and fellow whale lover and activist and I went on a trip in hopes of seeing right whales. And we did! Above you see a mom and her calf quite close to the boat we were on, which had cut its engine and was sitting still in the water. Surrounded by these, and other right whales, we had the most amazing few hours...
And so the thought of these whales being driven into extinction really horrifies me. If we allow that to happen, if those whales dissapear forever, I have a feeling that it will come back to haunt us in a big way.....................
After lots of time spent drawing in my sketchbook, I ended up deciding to go with the design seen above. And as so often happens, once I started work on the copper plates, it went through a bunch of changes along the way. I reworked a number of areas, including the whale's flipper and its entangling ropes, which I scraped out and re-did several times. But at long last, I decided it was finished...
The 3 copper plates inked, carefully wiped, and aligned on the etching press bed. Ready to print. And the finished print below.......
Entwined Fates ~ drypoint ~ 12" h. x 17 7/8" w.
I guess its been a long time since I have updated this blog.....Too long! But I will now try and remedy that. I have been working on prints. Both new ones and also finishing up some that I started last year and hadn't completed.
I'll start with one that remains unfinished...at least for the time being. Above you see my initial drawing for the print. It is an image of what we have been seeing far too much of these days....a critically endangered North Atlantic right whale entangled in fishing gear.
And here you see a NOAA Fisheries photo of the real thing. I don't know what became of this particular whale, if it somehow shed its entangling gear and survived, or not. But I do know that many entanglements end up with whales dying after many painful months of being entangled.
Here you see the engraving in progress.
Along the way, I decided to depart from my initial drawing and add the figure of a man, also entangled in the same gear. Maybe a kind of modern day Ahab? Above you see the man penciled in on the copper plate. It seems to me that we humans, who are soley responsible for pushing the right whale right up to the very edge of extiction, will ultimately share the same fate as the whales. If we can get our collective act together, we may survive into the future along with the right whales. If not, we too will go the way of the dinosaurs. I believe that our fates are entwined. As the Native American leader Chief Seattle is purported to have said: "Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself."
And here you see the printed engraving. I have printed it a number of times, making small changes along the way, but it is not printing consistently, and so for the time being anyways....it remains unfinished. Rather frustrating! But now, on to the finished prints!
This is another I began last year but just completed. Cat and Mouse ~ drypoint ~ 4" h. x 6" w.
In another print you will see below, I was inspired by the incredible activists on Jeju Island, South Korea, whom I have written about previously on this blog. Some of these activists have been trying to prevent the destruction of forests where the government wants to build a second, but unnecessary, airport on this relatively small island.The activists know that the government's real, but secretive, plan is for this second airport to become an Air Force base. They have been struggling to protect their forests and restrain the ever-increasing militarism of the US and South Korean governments. They have done extended hunger-strikes, tree-sitting, and many other creative, non-violent actions and protests.
Three of those amazing activists in the very early days of their long hunger strikes. Still smiling!
Activists climbing in trees and remaining there to prevent them from being cut down.
And an activist attempting to stop a worker from cutting trees by grabbing the chainsaw and covering it with her body. One very brave woman.....
Here, the copper plates for the new print, which is a triptych, are alligned on the etching press bed. Ready to print....
Jeju Forest Protectors ~ drypoint ~ 6" h. x 9" w.
The struggle continues. And many, many people, including me, continue being inspired by these activists, and their efforts to protect life......
Another new print. This one, the.....Dance of Life ~ drypoint ~ 6" h. x 9" w.
And this photo is of a drawing from a page in my sketch book. Its the initial design of my most recent print.
The work on the copper plate has begun.
As so often happens, I found that I was not quite happy with the drawing, and decided that I needed to make some changes. This involved taking a sharp scraper (seen to the left of the plate in the photo above) and scraping out the man's left arm and eventually the entire figure of the woman and some of the grasses.
Following the scraping, the plate needed to be brought back to a polish in those place where the scraping had occurred. Then I drew the basic outlines back in.
And here is the finished print.... Life Force ~ drypoint ~ 8" h. x 5" w.
The Grieving ~ drypoint ~ 2 7/8" h. x 4 1/2" w.
I have made many images, in sculpture and in print, of sorrow. I guess this is another one. Why so many? To answer as simply as I can...It is my way of mourning what is happening in the world. There is so much to mourn...the corporate takedown of this and other nation's democracies, endless corporate/State wars fought for resources and control, and the vast environmental devastation that is unravelling the Web of Life on this planet.. Unless one has their head in the sand, or has completely desensitized oneself, it can feel overwhelming. I make these images to express my grief.
And speaking of grief, these beautiful animals in the photo above are North Atlantic right whales, and I am filled with sadness (and a lot of anger!) over what is happening to them.They are critically endangered, with a population that now numbers only a little over 400. This population is in serious decline, as they are being routinely killed off....struck by ships or entangled in fishing gear. Just in this past month of June, 6 of these whales were found dead! Scientists were saying even before this disastrous month that if things keep on going as they are, if we humans don't make the changes necessary to seriously reduce human-caused deaths and injuries, then this whale will likely be functionally extinct within 20 years!
This right whale had fishing trap rope around both flippers, through its mouth, and dragging behind it. It died a month after the photo was taken. Photo Credit: Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.
This right whale, who is floating on her back, dead, was known as Starboard. She died from entanglement in fishing gear, which you can clearly see wrapped around her flippers and body. Photo Credit: NOAA/NEFSC/ Peter Duley
In this photo, you can see how the rope which entangled this right whale, known to researchers as Bridle, has cut deeply into his upper jaw (rostrum). Whales sometimes drown soon after becoming entangled. The ones who don't will often remain entangled for months or years leading to painful infections and other injuries, as well as an impaired ability to reproduce, an extremely serious thing in a species as imperiled as the right whale. Some entanglements will make feeding difficult.... or impossible, leading to emaciation and eventual starvation. What a horribly sad fate... Photo Credit: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Here is a screenshot of the headline from an article that appeared in the Bangor Daily News last Thursday. Maine's congressional delegation once again attempting to block measures that would protect right whales from being entangled in lobster fishing gear. The delegation all claim to be concerned for these whales, but their actions make it very clear that this concern is extremely shallow, at best.
And here is a screenshot of a headline from last Friday's Bangor Daily. Maine's Governor Janet Mills obviously shares, along with the congressional delegation, a lack of any real concern for the survival of this critically endangered species. Apparently, the profits of the lobster industry are far more important than right whales....What a sad world.
North Atlantic Right Whale ~ The End of the Line? - engraving - 4" h. x 9 3/4" w.
Above is an older engraving I did on this subject. Seems like an appropriate way to end this post.
Work on the drypoint print continues on. If you look out the window in the photo above, you will see some of the backyard visitors that I mentioned earlier. Like many of our other visitors, these deer have been attracted to the sunflower seed that falls to the ground from our bird feeders. We love these visits!
And here is the copper plate with the figure of the woman starting to take shape. More later....
It has been too long since I made a print, and I have been feeling the urge to get back to it. As an image, I decided to go with this older drawing I'd done as an idea for a possible print years ago, but had never done. But I'd always liked the image...So I decided to go with it now.
The figure in the image is from another of my old drawing books, this one filled with drawings from the model done when I was back living in Santa Fe and attending Eli Levin's highly enjoyable life drawing group. Those were the days...wish there was such a group here in Maine now!
I like to work on my prints here at the dining table, where the light is better, and its warm. Plus I get to keep a lookout on the field in back where I often see deer, crows, occasional ravens, and other creatures.
As you can see in the photo above, the initial drawing was tiny...less than 2" x 3". I decided to enlarge the design to 4" x 6".
And here you can almost see the design beginning to take shape on the copper plate...Now I've got to get back work...more on this later!
I just finished photographing my newly completed sculpture commission. It is carved in poplar wood, and then painted in casein paints. I have titled the piece "Lupine Love", and its dimensions are 20" h. x 14" w. x 2" d. Below is a view from the side, which maybe gives a better idea of the depth of the relief. I shipped the sculpture out to my sister Leslie, who commissioned the piece, yesterday.....I hope she will like it.... Ride on Sister!
Well, I guess its been a while now since I last posted here! I have been working on a relief carving commissioned by my dear sister Leslie....an image of her and her beloved horse Ellana, carved in poplar wood. It is quite a bit higher relief than I usually do, closer to figures in the round (but with a foreground and background) and so it was something of a learning process for me. I just finished carving....but it is not done yet! I intend to paint it, but have no clear ideas for that yet, so need to do some color studies. More soon....