Tuesday, June 28, 2011

June Century

Courtesy of Expresso Beans
Louis Rhead, Literary Poster for the Century Magazine,
June 1896
, stone color lithograph.

I love this print and it's one of the few pieces of original art that I own. It's a splendid example of "American" Art Nouveau printed during the heydey of color stone lithography. (Rhead is actually English and part of the distinguished family of artists and potters living on both sides of the Atlantic) He moved to the US at the end of the 19th Century and was among a handful of very influential and successful artists working in this style during it's rather brief popularity in this country.
The curving, thorny rose brambles contrast with the flowing lines of the hair and clothes and it is printed in just a few colors--orange,teal, purple,red, yellow and black but achieves a richness and complexity well beyond that number.
A better image can be seen here:

This marks my 100th post.

I don't know that that actually means very much as I don't think I picked up any readers until #75 or so but still it seems like a little milestone.

It does serve as a moment to pause and see what I've done so far and to begin to think about what I want to do next.
Lacrime di Rospo started out hoping to be a farming blog stemming from my small organic farming venture--that never really took off--before we left Italy to move to Santa Cruz.

We were "Toad Organics" or Rospobio and I was trying to lay the groundwork for a small CSA (community supported agriculture project) in Florence.

But we moved to the USA and the farm sort of got abandoned. I went back to work as a physician to pay the bills and drowned my sorrow not with whiskey and beer but with rice paste and water-based colors.

I took a 5 day course in Moku Hanga at the local community college and started making prints again for the first time in many years.

So here I am. It's about 5 years later.
I have about 23 woodblock prints that I've completed.
I still consider myself a novice, if not a beginner. My carving skills are improving but the printing is still woefully lacking in control, skill, and just simple experience. Even if I learn something from every print, I still feel very much like a
"hobby" printer.
I'd like to take another step forward. Each print has been a kind of home-study course, with some kind of goal or skill I hoped to explore or improve on.
"Lydia" was about lyrical, calligraphic lines, My little series of Blu vases was about overlapping pale transparent colors; "Domino" about trying to get a dense black by overlapping primary colors; etc.
My recent trip to Japan to attend a conference on International artists working in Moku Hanga was a great opportunity to look at work by some wonderful artists from all over the world and to get both ideas and energy to push forward to try to improve the quality of my work.

SO here's a list of some things I hope to do this year:

A white line print--probably a floral still life or fairly explicit nude.
A landscape--I have almost no prints with a strong horizontal format.
A still life or interior scene.
A larger print than I'm used to.
Something Dark and rich and splotchy.
And I'd like to work again on achieving nice rich dark colors as well as wispy, washes and delicate colors.
And I'd like to work on "quality control"--cleaner edges and less smudges where they do matter while still allowing some spontaneity with looser printing when that's important.

I'll have some time.

We're moving back to Italy in the Fall. B needs to go back to work full-time in Italy and we'd like the kids to have another year in Italian public schools. So it looks like we'll be back in Florence for the school year. Since I can't work over there as an MD, I'll be able to spend a fair amount carving and printing.

Hope to get something started soon though.
I won't leave before September, and that's plenty of time before that to try something new.

Monday, June 13, 2011


Kyoto Cherries, June 2011

I sent out my kimono print today. It went out as it appeared in my last post with no additions other than a title and edition number and signature. It will be part of the 60+ prints that will be included in the Baren "Inspired by Japan" benefit portfolio. (individual prints and the entire set should be available for purchase in the coming weeks).

I had been planning on calling it, "The Year of No Cherries..." but this seemed a little too sad and, worse, would have been incorrect. I looked up the traditional dates of full bloom of the cherry blossoms in Japan and found this note:

"This year's cherry blossom season will be overshadowed by the tremendous loss caused by the recent earthquake. However, we believe that the blossoms will serve as symbols of hope and resilience and a source of motivation along Japan's road to recovery."

and it included photos taken by the Sendai representative who went and explored and gave a full report of this year's bloom.
Full Bloom in Sendai was 21-4-2011. ( http://www.japan-guide.com/blog/sakura11/110421_sendai.html )

So I thought about it and changed the title to "RIPPLES"
The little waves caused by the falling blossoms onto the blue silk waters of the many ponds and rivers and lakes that enrobe Japan;the outward spreading waves and interconnections of events. Blooms that signal Spring, and rebirth, and hope.
Cherry blossoms that are also atoms--the breeze caused by these petals can be felt across the world and will continue for one-hundred thousand years.

And in this year's new growth and tender shoots, next years buds have already formed.

(note: I attended the 1st International Conference of Moku Hanga in Kyoto, Japan and got back from Japan last night. I took this photograph while walking through the city. The cherry trees were no longer in bloom but were covered with these small fruits, black when ripe that littered the ground with their falling fruit and staining the sidewalks black. I tasted some. They are not sweet and the birds seemed to leave them mostly alone.