A few thoughts from the artist about several of his prints, currently up in this month’s exhibition, Max & Ed:
Landscape, Figure, Portrait, Still Life: this is the classic quartet of artists’ concerns, and I seem to be one of those who are gratified by the visual occurrences of every day. (I want to say “inspired” instead of “gratified,” but “inspired” has become a terribly baggagey word.) This show includes prints from each of those categories, some of them supported by the sketches, drawings, or watercolors that preceded them. As an artist, teacher, and art enthusiast, I enjoy a show that provides a background or a trace of the artist’s mind at work, and I hope that these antecedents will serve as a means of comparison and contrast for visitors to the show.
Nest (pictured above) came from a drawing of a bird’s nest that rests on a table in our living room, a thing I’ve intended to draw for a year or more. To some degree, this print was an exercise in using gouges and veiners of different calibers. I was interested in the way that the strokes of the tools can be seen as both patterns and as descriptions.
Before Sunrise, Gull Lake is a print that came from a visit to my wife’s aunt, who lives on Gull Lake in southwestern Michigan. Sitting early in the morning at her dining table, I have spent hours looking out at the always changing light on the lake. On the last morning of our visit, I was struck by the bright white of the sky and the lake, while the near shore and the farther shore were no more than silhouettes; so I made a drawing of what I saw, with the intention of translating that image into a print at some future time, and perhaps a color print, and perhaps even a painting.
Woman Washing Her Hair, oddly enough, had its origin in my figure drawing classes. At some point in the last few years, I’ve been interested in what happens in those classes when the model completes
the half-hour pose: there’s an immediate relaxation, accompanied by an un-self-consciousness, that are never present in the pose itself, which always requires some level of concentration, discipline, and self-awareness. I have made a number of sketches and studies–and eventually woodcuts–that I’ve titled The Model Takes a Break. In some way I don’t completely understand, Woman Washing Her Hair shoehorned herself into (or alongside) this series. In some way the print is related to a number of pictures of a woman with arms raised–binding her hair, washing her hair, running her hands through her hair–that is both graceful and profoundly feminine. This gesture was a recurring theme of Picasso’s work, and of Degas’; I’m in good company. The original drawing for this print did not include the mirror and the reflection of the hands. When I added that upper part to the drawing, I deliberately made the hands not a mirror image of the woman’s hands–don’t ask me why–and I feel that the print is compositionally improved by that decision.