Saturday, February 18, 2012


 My husband Darrell and I spent part of our anniversary, February 17th, at Seattle Art Museum viewing their exhibit "Gauguin & Polynesia: An Elusive Paradise" (February 9, 2012 thru April 29, 2012). 
Although Gauguin's Polynesia period is not our favorite of his, we enjoyed this show immensely.  It's always enjoyable to get close-up to such talent and beauty.  I spent a lot of time getting too close to the paintings and looking at his brush-strokes and the colors he chose.

Three Tahitians 1899

Beneath the Pandanu Tree 1891

Tahitian Mountains 1893

Landscape with Three Figures 1901

I stood and stared in awe at "Landscape with Three Figures", which was one of the paintings towards the last of the exhibit.  I marveled at the brush strokes.  I contemplated the sky for a long time.  I stood there with my mouth open, I'm sure.  I had to remark to Darrell that I had just spent a good deal of time yesterday finishing up the sky on one of my freeway paintings, trying to get it very evenly all-over blue with no brush strokes showing.  Gauguin's sky in this painting is a series of little brush strokes in every shade and hue.  The white and grey clouds on the right dissipate off into the blue-ness of the sky unlike the clearly defined ones towards the center.  I thought, why don't I do skies like this?  These are gorgeous!
I went home and looked at my freeway painting...wondering if I should redo it.  I decided the sky I painted for it, fit it.  It would not look right with an impressionistic sky in a sorta realistic painting.  I left it the way it was.  I guess I knew what I was doing after all.

Pare Paillard by Gauguin 1902

 Who knew Gauguin was such a talented carver?  The above statue was also one of our favorites because of the story behind it. "Pere Paillard" (Father Lechery or Debauchery) inscribed on its base.  It was recognizable as the local Catholic bishop, who demanded Gauguin stop his liaisons with the local women, while still pursuing them himself despite his vows of celibacy, and all while the church was engaged in wholesale destruction of the native culture.  Things never change!

Also included in this exhibit are a lot of the local art from the Islands, including a tiki that is said to embody all of the ancestors.  We were invited to greet it and speak to it.

There was another room dedicated to Gauguin's wood block prints, which I found fascinating.  I had no idea he had done any.  Apparently, he didn't do much with the prints after he had carved the blocks (he had planned a book about Polynesia, but it never materialized).  Gauguin's son later printed some of the blocks which are on display here.

Gauguin Woodblock print 1903

If you are in the Seattle area during this show, I encourage you to go see it.  You'll definitely enjoy it.
  We did.

Monday, February 13, 2012


When I started thinking about an image for my annual Chinese New Year print exchange with BarenForum, my mind kept returning to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  I read those books last year, saw the Swedish versions of the movies, and on Christmas my husband and I went to the theatre to see the new version on the 'big screen'.  I love the books and all of the movies (this latest version is fantastic!).  It's a very intriguing story with interesting characters,  and if you haven't already read the books I urge you to go get them now.
So, back to my Year of the Dragon print, I couldn't get the title "Dragon with the Girl Tattoo" out of my head.  So, I had to go with it.  
I struggled with the image, I was trying to make it like the theatre ads, where it shows the Girl in profile, with the dragon tattoo on her shoulder. 

When I did that way, the tattoo girl was too realistic or something, and didn't look quite right.  Plus, I couldn't figure out how to turn it into a print, it was beyond my skill level.

My original sketch
I was about to abandon the whole idea, when I had an epiphany while out walking in the deep woods of our local park.  The image of the girl (woman) from the mudflaps of trucks came into my mind.  It's a simple image, one I could duplicate in a print.  But I started thinking about why the dragon had that image tattooed onto his shoulder/wing and came up with his story.


As a youngster, Thorvald dreamed of one day being a long-haul trucker.  To travel the highways and byways, to be a King of the Road, to be in control of a 'big rig', that would be the ultimate in fun and adventure.

When he saw the TV reality show, Ice Road Truckers, Thorvald knew that was what he wanted.  He gave up everything to go to the great wilderness of Alaska. He begged for a chance to prove he could be an Ice Road Trucker. They doubted he could do it.  What would he do with his wings?  Could he drive all alone out on the ice? He talked and finagled and finally, he was given the chance.  He got behind the wheel, took control of the big rig and headed out onto the frozen lake.  The farther out he went the more nervous he became.  He found himself alone in the middle of a vast frozen wasteland and he was getting very cold and very lonely.  He panicked.
The sad fact is when dragons panic they usually react by burning up everything in sight.
Alas, that was poor Thorvald's mistake.  When he breathed flames in his cab and set it on fire, he immediately felt better and more at home.  He exited the truck to bask in the flames.  Pretty soon the entire rig was afire.
The ice beneath it began to melt.
The whole rig, truck and trailer, was burning up and melted through the ice and fell into the lake below.
Thorvald was embarrassed and ashamed.  He flew home in disgrace and was asked not to come back to the frozen north.

His time as a trucker is now but a memory, the Girl Tattoo his only memento.

The resilient Thorvald is now dreaming of his next great adventure.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012


The husband likes to celebrate when a job ships out.  We usually go to Endolyne Joe's.  It was very crowded and it was Happy Hour, so we ended up sitting in the bar for dinner.

Here's a little sketch I did while waiting and chatting about today's news stories.  The man at the end of the bar caught my eye because of the way he was sitting.  He was turned to his neighbor, sitting with his leg crossed, up on his knee.  As soon as I began sketching him, he took notice (I tried to look like I wasn't looking at him) but I think I made him uncomfortable and he changed position.  Dang.

Oh, we had meals off the special seasonal menu, this quarter featuring Argentina, and they were excellent!  Darrell had gnocchi in a creamy tomato sauce (he rolled his eyes with the first bite and savored every last bite of it), I had a very interesting tasting chicken breast and arugula salad.

Friday, February 03, 2012


"The Dragon with the Girl Tattoo"

image size 4" by 6" on 5" by 7" paper
two woodblocks using Akua inks and watercolors

There's even a story that goes with this...
but I haven't actually written it, yet.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, February 02, 2012


I carved the second block for my Year of the Dragon Print, the color block.  You can see where this block had been painted white, and then I had transferred the key block onto it yesterday.

I mixed up a green from my Akua inks and printed up a few.  It wasn't covering very well, there were spots and dips and icky stuff.  I tried a few things then decided I better sand the white paint off the block.  I went downstairs into Darrell's woodshop and sanded it there so I would minimize the sawdust in my ink!

Here is the bunch of prints I did, trying different things and different colors.  I can't tell which prints I did before I sanded and which were after.  I don't think it made a big difference, other than getting rid of the few bumps that were on there.  
I know what I did wrong though...I tried really hard to keep my sanding block even across the face, but I still managed to get the corners a little lower than the rest of the block.  So, when I print I have to give extra attention to the edges and corners.

I only printed about 16 on the good paper, and of those I painted the eyes gold and put some red in the nostril and the mouth, which will be covered by the black, but I think a little of the red will show through.

I didn't want to get too far ahead  - I still need to make sure I'm on the right track before I print them all.  Next time I will print the key block over what I've done so far to make sure everything is turning out like I want.

Besides, I ran out of gas.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012


I struggled with the drawing for my Year of the Dragon print.  I had a clear concept, The Dragon With the Girl Tattoo, but I couldn't get the image in my head to materialize on paper.

But I had an epiphany while on our walk in Lincoln Park.

It finally came together, and I decided not to fuss with it any more.  

I like it.

I sanded up some 4" by 6" blocks of Basswood that I had laying about and started carving the 'key block'.

I inked up the block to in order to transfer the image unto the second block and also printed one copy, thinking I would use some colored pencils to experiment with color.  I should have printed more, duh.  I also see some boo-boos that need to be fixed (particularly the girl's knee where the knife slipped).  We got busy after dinner and I never did color it in.  I'm thinking about trying a 'rainbow roll'.  We'll see.  I'll be carving the easier color block tomorrow.