Sunday, October 15, 2006

James Ensor

"Death Chasing a Flock of Mortals"
etching and drypoint

James Ensor (1860-1949) Lifetime achivement of 133 etchings.

There was an interesting article in recent Art on Paper magazine about Tom Firmans 200 piece collection of Ensor prints. Tom first saw Ensors famous painting "Christ's entry into Brussels in 1889 and became thoroughly impressed by the artist. Later in New York he bought his first prints, by Gabor Peterdi who taught at Yale and was the author of "Great Prints of the World" Through Peterdi , Firman learned that prints provide an economical means to collect the work of as many of the worlds greatest artists. At first Firman was attracted to the fantasical qualities of Ensors etchings, but later began to appreciate Ensors keen sense of draftsmanship. His favorite print is a hand colored version of "Skeletons Trying to Warm Themselves". Ensor used this print to wrap the etching plate when it was not in use. Firman owns five etchings from Ensor's 1904 album "The Seven Deadly Sins". I remember that "Whipping Boy" did the seven deadly sins series as an undergrad.

Depraivity and corruption are timeless and for Ensor, humor provided the best means to face the dark side of human condition. It was this intensely pessimistic if ultimately realistic world view, expressed in a series of astonishing paintings and etchings, which made Ensor a pariah during his productive years as an artist, rejected not only by the right-thinking Flemish burghers of his native Belgium, but also by the members of Les Vingt, the avant garde group of painters of which he, himself, was founder and leading light.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Open print studio in Emeryville, CA

I got a recent email from Linda Goodman who wants to open up her studio to experienced printmakers. If you are interested just leave a comment and I'll get you in touch with her.

I am trying to get the word out to artists I have
enjoyed working with that I am opening my
Emeryville, California, etching and litho studio to
experienced printmakers or those seeking instruction with
ample open studio. I wanted to make sure that you know
about this.

My preference is to find about three other
artists to work in the studio. Available 24/7 (altho we may
stagger use.) I will be moving into a different
studio for painting etc and using this one only for
printing occasionally and possibly a few print workshops.
You may also use the studio for some photography,
drawing and/or painting if that works out. Some storage
is available. Frestanding Ettan Press, bed size 36" x 72".
Fuchs and Lang hand litho press, bed size 23 x 36". And
of course my sinks, water bins and some inking and
other tables (as desired).

The studio will be available probably
about Nov 1 or possibly sooner.

First Prints

I forgot to share with you some prints that my little sisters did. Last time I was home I taught my little sisters how to do woodblock printing. It was really fun to see what their reation would be to a process like this. My older sister (13), who is very much like me, loved carving the wood, and she carved a lot of woodcuts, but when it came to printing she wasn't all that excited. Infact she didn't print a lot of them. My younger sister(9), is happy go lucky type of person, and thoroughly enjoyed both processes, but I think she enjoyed printing the best. She became very experimental during the printing process. It was so much fun teaching them woodcut. I think it is something all kids should learn how to do.

No blood involved in these prints



Monday, October 09, 2006

New (mono)Prints

Recently I opened up my charcoal box. I have not opened it since December 2003; the last time I had a drawing class with Joel. I smelled the inside and all of a sudden a wave of old memories came back. I grabbed a stick and put it to paper. A wave of euphoria came over me and I quickly sketched the first four prints below. It felt so good. I only have one stick of charcoal left, so next time I go back to LaCrosse, I'll have to get some new charcoal blessed.

So, below are some new prints. They make me nervous and I think that is probably a good thing. I don't understand them yet, but I'm sure I will soon.

What do ya think?

Thursday, October 05, 2006


I've started to write poetry lately. One because of my bookmaking/letterpress class and two because it seems to aid in making my art work. I've been thinking a lot lately about how artists create their art. What is their inspiraton and how do they execute it. It is always different for everybody, but it occurs to me that most people these days have a system of rules that they work off of. I seem to wing it most of the time. Ever since starting graduate school it seems as though I'm supposed to have already worked out a system that works for me, and a system that makes logical theoretical sense. Well, I did that in Greece and produced some prints that on the one hand were fun yet on another hand are totally boring. We spent half an hour last week looking at a students project where she creates scribbles. It's all systemetically in order, but it is so boring. Can you believe that we spent such a long time talking about scribbles? It drives me nuts. Then after her, we went and talked to a fellow printmaker who produced some really interesting narrative series, and I think nobody actually said anything about her work. It's so strange to me.
Anyways, back to my poetry. In the past I have relied on moments of anger, frustration, and any other visceral emotion to produce my art. This really doesn't fly in art school. But working through visceral emotions go into writing and then get translated into visual work. For some reason this is okay in art school. So here are my poems and it does help to do these first because I can sort through my ideas better this way.

I was four and Jesus was staring at me.

The death-red glowed blanketing the mucid-room

His face was soft yet he was demented

Between his fingers and his thumb he gripped his heart

A heart still swelling and enslaved to thorns

The hot blood dripped and I started to flinch

Fear encompassed me

He towered over me

"Hell to your soul" he said

He smiled and stared at me as if to say "you are next".

(To ease the pain of moving to a new country my parents bought us a dog.)


I was seven and the Germans were bombing us
Overhead I heard the zooming planes and I panicked
The T.V. said to hide under your bed or better yet go to your shelter
My parents should send us away to the country like the other kids
Why did we come to a country that was at war?
As scared as I was, I was alone
At night my parents turned into aliens
It was better not to disturb them
Eventually the Germans stopped bombing, but the Irish began bombing
My dad would say "did you know that a deck of cards can blow up a building?"
I thought it was a horrific magic trick only Irish people could do
So, I was careful when I played with cards


(To ease the pain of moving to a new country my parents bought us a dog.)

I was thirteen and I was in an Irish nightmare
The Americans were enamored with the Irish
The town we moved to in Wisconsin had five hundred people,
Two Catholic churches, and a man who was once abducted by aliens
A woman asked us over for an "Irish" lunch one day
We walked into her musty house
Green was everywhere
There was a shamrock table cloth
Little glasses with shamrocks on them
Lots of Irish knick knacks that I had never seen before
We sat at the table and she brought out the food in shamrock dishes
In front of us she placed cabbage and corned beef
I had never had corned beef before and my mom never cooked cabbage
This poor old woman only wanted to make us feel at home
It was the first of many Irish meals to come.