Inspired by the wild columbine that bloom in the springtime on the rocky shores of Lake Champlain in Burlington, VT. This is a four layer print made with transparent primary colors (blue, red, and yellow) which overlap to create the secondary colors (purple, green, and orange), and then a final key block in black.
This print is intended to be a reminder of how much joy there can be in the food that we eat, how it can be specific to the season we are in, and how we can connect to the land around us through food both foraged and cultivated. It is inspired by a delicious and memorable meal of chanterelle mushrooms and summer squash over egg noodles that I had this past summer. You can read more about how I developed this print here. A hand-painted version of this print will be available soon.
This print is not actually new, but this is the first time I've tried coloring it in. The stump in the middle is a hemlock, you can tell by the reishi mushrooms growing out of it. And the new tree in the middle is a birch, which was Jamie's suggestion based on how readily they grow from old stumps. I love how the color brings life to this print, and helps clarify what certain things are, such as the russula mushrooms in the bottom corner, and the pixie cup lichen on the stump.
This was my first new print of the year, carved after a very busy holiday sales season. I wanted to capture the feeling of finally relaxing after months of hard work. The coffee table is based on the one Jamie made from an oak slab salvaged from one of his logging jobs, and the candles are based on bees wax dippers that my sister Rayna makes. Carving this one taught me a lot about different textures and patterns (such as the wood grain in the table and floor and the paisley on the cushions) that I hope to carry with me into future prints.
'Sun Moon Earth'
This is a two layer reduction print with a color gradient for both layers. Reduction printing uses a single block to print multiple layers by carving away more of the block between each layer. On the left you can see the first layer and on the right is the completed print. I am quite obsessed with astronomy/astrology, and I have been wanting to make a print about moon phases for a while now. I don't want to explain too much, as I'm hoping the image can speak for itself with a little study and contemplation. But I will give you a hint and say that eight smaller circles represent the moon at different points in it's cycle, and that the moon closest to the sun is a new moon, and the one farthest from the sun is a full moon.
I have been spending this winter developing a number of new prints and I want to share about one of them. "Midsummer Feast" is a hand colored linoleum block print, based on a meal of chanterelle mushrooms and summer squash over egg noodles. I have been following along with the #printersolstice challenge on instagram, and one of the early prompts was "in good taste". It made me think of this meal which was possibly the best meal I had all last year. Jamie and Rayna and Daisy and I went to Lincoln to hike along the river, and while we were there Jamie found a patch of chanterelles. Rayna had never found them before, but she and her daughter Daisy have always loved to look for mushrooms together, so needless to say everyone was very excited and suddenly we were on a chanterelle hunt. Rayna and Jamie both found a bunch and we stashed them in an empty chip bag (that is a tip for you if you want to keep your foraging spots secret, or if you find yourself without a basket, as was the case with us). Back home we collected some summer squash from the garden to cook up with the mushrooms. I can't even tell you how delicious it all was! A true midsummer feast.
I started by sketching the meal itself. To the left you can see how I started to envision a series of three panels to tell the story of the meal. Color felt important to this piece from the beginning, but I didn't yet know if I would achieve it through reduction, multiple blocks, or hand coloring. Chanterelles are known for their matte orange that can call to you from across the forest, and the squash we grew last year was colored like the inside of an avacado.
In my next sketch I started to work out the composition for the three different panels. I use drawing as a way to think and problem solve, using extremely simplified forms so I can quickly try out different compositions without getting lost in the details. In high school our art teacher always urged us to make lots of little sketches before starting on a final piece, and I never did! I just couldn't see the point. I think it's because I hadn't yet learned how to simplify my forms. Now I couldn't imagine making a print without working through my ideas in this way.
With the basic composition laid out, I proceeded to work out the details. On the right is my final sketch, and on the left is a tracing of all the major outlines that I used to transfer the design onto linoleum. You can also see a tiny drawing of Rayna and Daisy that I considered adding into the top panel. I couldn't make them fit, but it's possible they will come back if I ever make another chanterelle print. (I believe this is my 4th chanterelle attempt, one of those things I keep coming back to in my prints, like birches and wood-heated cabins.)
Once I transferred the outlines of my final sketch onto the linoleum, I went over them with a brush and ink. A sharpie is honestly mush easier to use for this purpose, but all of mine were dried up. The bush and ink does have it's perks. It is hard to control the lines so you end of with different thicknesses and a distinct wobbliness, which keeps the piece loose and vibrational even though I've drawn the same picture several times by this point.
After all of that planning I finally started carving. This is an opportunity to further refine the line quality. I really liked the wobbliness of the brush and ink lines, and I emphasized that, especially in the squash leaves and stalks which are quite bristly in real life, by wobbling my tool as I carved.
And here is finished block next to a pulled print!
This one I painted as a gift for my mom's birthday. I'm really happy with how it looks once colored in! I used gouache, which I find works great for painting prints. It is water based, and my printing ink is oil based, so there is a slight resist effect, which means I don't have to worry about accidentally painting over my outlines. It also has a powdery matte texture, so similar to that of chanterelles. I learned a lot from making this piece, and I'm excited especially to work more in this comic style, and to make more hand painted prints.
It's a snowy day here in Vermont! If you found your way here from the Women's Festival of Crafts website, welcome! And if you found me some other way, welcome as well! Here are some new prints and greeting cards that I just listed at PotionsPress.
An updated version of my Contemplate Decomposition print. This phrase has resonated with a lot of people over the years, which is something that really means a lot to me. It came to me at a particularly difficult time in my life. I would spend a lot of time in the woods seeking peace, and I found it immensely comforting to notice the way that trees became dirt and new life grew out of old wood.
Send a little full moon magic to your friends and family! These note cards come in sets of four with a different design on each card. They are based on pastel drawings I did this summer of the full moon. This set would make a lovely gift for someone who likes to send snail mail, or you could frame them up for inexpensive wall art.
And finally, an extra special hand embellished version of my Work & Time print. A reminder that all this stuff takes work and time, and that isn't a bad thing!! This is a celebration of patience and persistence. The background shines with metallic gold and the flowers and vines are painted with rich watercolor.
There are lots of other designs to explore at PotionsPress. And if you are local to Burlington you can find me in person at the BCA Holiday Market, December 5th and 6th at City Hall Park. Thank you so much for supporting my small art business and Happy Holidays!