Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Together we travel!


Four of our clever friends from Brazil sent their blocks all together in one neat package!
What a great idea to keep each other motivated and save money on postage. Excellent...oh, except for I had some serious  catching up to do this weekend.
Fortunately artists never take time off, so here are two of the new arrivals.

The first is a classic garden fairy, delicately rendered. The carving is actually deeper than it looks and I trust it will print quite well. I magically floated it among the seeds and droopy leaves of the Shoestring Acacia, a tall handsome tree that requires little water and gives us "babies" every spring. Acacias are known for being prolific (also called "weedy") and soon I will need another acre to plant them all; I hate just pulling out and tossing the baby trees.

Marcia Campos dos Santos - Santos, Sao Paulo BRAZIL

Next is one of my favorites so far, a tree frog! I love this little guy. I balanced him easily on a strange green trunked and branched tree appropriately called Palo Verde (Green Stick), a native of the neighboring state of Arizona. This particular one is really called a Blue Palo Verde, a name that makes us native Spanish speakers cringe. To add to the confusion, the Blue Palo Verde regales us every spring with such an abundance of yellow flowers that sometimes branches fall off under the weight. I suppose Blue Palo Verde con Muchas Flores Amarillas (Blue Green Stick with Many Yellow Flowers) would have been much to long a name.
Anyhow, here is the lovely perching tiny frog.
Renata Salgado - Santos, Sao Paulo BRAZIL
repapel at gmail.com

What is a garden without their small creatures???

Fantastic Garden Headquarters: http://puzzleprints.blogspot.com

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Fun About the Pond

In my spare time...

Printmakers make prints, it's really a fairly straightforward "business plan".
So while waiting for my puzzle blocks to return for the Fantastic Garden project, I made a print! If you recall, the Fantastic Garden was funded partially through http://www.kickstarter.com a so-called crowd funding platform. Some of the rewards offered were four panels of the preliminary sketches that sprouted into a full blown garden image.

This print was made for a http://barenforum.org exchange. That's another thing printmakers do so I will revise my business plan to: Make prints, get prints. Still pretty simple. Basically we are a group of woodblock/woodcut/relief printmakers who chat about making prints online and to prove that we aren't all talk, we also physically exchange prints every quarter of every year. This is Exchange #57.

About the Pond

So here it is, the About the Pond Sketch Doodle in full color, exactly three weeks and two days after I started it. Got carried away I guess.

Print Title: About the Pond
Paper Dimension: 10 x 15 in
Image Dimension: 8 x 12 in
Block: 7 Cherry plywood
Pigment or Ink: Daniel Smith Oil Based
Paper: Somerset
Edition: 50
Comments: About the Pond is one of four images related to the Fantastic Garden Monumental Puzzle Print, a collaboration among international printmakers.
The images derived from the large puzzle print are playful and fun, both to draw and to render as woodcuts.
For this image I went back to my beginnings and used the creamy and sweet smelling oil based inks. Printing on dry Western paper is virtually problem free. Because of the opacity of the inks I also went back to my old method of printing all colors first, then key block at the end.
And here are some details:

Frolic! Jump! How refreshing THAT looks, ey?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A Lady Fairy and a Lady's Mantle

Two more pieces, our garden grows

The delightfully fair Lady Fairy balanced perfectly among the summer blooms of the Mexican Bird of Paradise. Okay, so I'm holding it up but only with two fingers while my other hand holds the camera still enough to take some pictures. Don't try that at home, I'm a professional.
The Lady's Mantle was precariously balanced (without my help) among the flowering branches of the purple sage, who thinks it is spring again due to the recent showers. For those of you fellow desert dwellers, the term "showers" refers to those rare occasions when that wet stuff called "water" falls from the sky, otherwise known as "rain". Our hardy plants smile when they get wet!

Jeanne Norman-Chase - Sarasota Florida USA
studiojnc at verizon.net
"Always fascinated by dragonflys, fairies, childrens books, etc. The theme was perfect. Only needs some color to bring it to life. The fairy is emerging from her cocoon, her flower to join her fellow crittersI collect dragonfly anything and fairy images. In my next life I will come back as a childrens illustrator. Or maybe even a fairy!!!!!!"

Marguerite Ogden - Hallowell Maine USA

I mostly create monotypes so I knew this would  be a challenge  but I wanted try something new. Of course, this project really intrigued me as well.  I have made linoleum cuts in the past but wood is very different. Luckily, I had my grandfather's wood cut tools and good friends who helped me sharpen them, loaned me extra tools, and gave me good advice. After making elaborate drawings, which I wouldn't have been able to cut, I decided on using Lady's Mantle from my garden as inspiration.

And with that, I'm out of blocks to show you!!! 

Carve, carve!!! Send them in, my fellow conspirators!

Important Dates and Notes

Only two months to go to the deadline! August 31st is fast approaching.
Please send your image information as soon as you know what you are doing via this page:
Fantastic Garden Headquarters: http://puzzleprints.blogspot.com

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Garden Refuge, a Curlew, and a Tasmanian gift

Public Service Announcement!

Important Dates and Notes

Only six weeks to go to the deadline! August 31st is fast approaching.
Please send your image information as soon as you know what you are doing via this page:

Three More Pieces of the Fantastic Puzzle

Kathleen (Kate) Willoughby - USA
pieces_of_time at hotmail.com

The garden has always been a refuge for me, gardening always had a way of making things 'right'.  When I lost a great deal of my mobility the garden taunted me.  This is the first image that I have carved in a very, very long time.  Who would know that returning to art via the garden would allow the light of art back into my life.  I chose the image of a walking bridge a metaphor for the long road to recovery.  It is rough, it is uneven in some places, some other places dark and vague.  But there is plenty of light - imperfect, some slips and some falls - but that is life, no?

Laura Castell Perez - Townsville AUSTRALIA
"The bush stone curlew, an Australian bird often sheltering among bushes or tall grass during the day but very active at night wandering in groups producing wail-like sounds.It has been an honour to be part of this group! and be caught in the contagious enthusiasm of Maria!"
Linden Langdon - Hobart, Tasmania AUSTRALIA

Tasmania is an island south of Australia, though about 100 million years ago it was a tiny part of the massive Gondwana supercontinent. There is just one remnant flora species that forms a link between South America, New Zealand and Australia. Nothofagus gunnii is the only deciduous species native to Tasmania and creates a beautiful carpet of autumn colour in the highlands.

Fantastic Garden Headquarters: http://puzzleprints.blogspot.com

Monday, July 22, 2013

28% Puzzle Pieces are Home Again

26 of 91 = 28%!

Over a quarter of the puzzle pieces are back home eagerly awaiting their garden companions. With a bit over 6 weeks to go, this is very good news!
Meanwhile in the "real" garden we have had a rare monsoon season with daily and nightly rains. Three days ago a "real" thunderstorm hit the Las Vegas valley, leaving gullies and washes bursting their banks.
The desert vegetation likes these storms and the sage is blooming all over again, purple and lavender flowers now adorn the garden. The trees always enjoy a good deep watering and all the hardy desert dwellers are clean and smiling.

Important Dates and Notes

Only six weeks to go to the deadline! August 31st is fast approaching.
Please send your image information as soon as you know what you are doing via this page:

Bird and Bunny

Here are the latest arrivals. I rescued the tree whereupon the bird perches somberly looking at its surroundings. The neighbors were chopping it down with a tiny saw in order for the trash pickup to take it in pieces. I saved them some time and effort and I gained a great tree-sculpture. Actual birds, mostly mockingbirds, use it as a lookout to get around the yard and as a launching pad for catching insects.

The bunny I placed under the creosote, one of the native bushes that grows all over the Mojave Desert without much pomp and circumstance. Creosote serves as refuge to many a desert critter and our very own bunnies, the desert hares, like to nest just under the tufts of olive green leaves and fluffy cottony flowers.

Lisa Toth - Chester, New York USA
Susan Kallaugher - Maryland USA
Mcqzie at aol.com

“I believe I am growing veggies for the sole benefit of the creatures that live around my garden! One prime offender is the large, cheeky rabbit who thinks this is  Mr McGregor’s garden (apologies to Beatrix Potter) and is so bold he doesn’t even bother to hop off when I go out to water. He might be a she as I found several babies hidden in grass & fur under the rosemary bush, I guess I will have to share with even more hungry bunnies soon.”

Fantastic Garden Headquarters: http://puzzleprints.blogspot.com

Monday, July 8, 2013

Ruth Leaf's Contribution and a Mystery Solved

Ruth Leaf

I confess Ruth is my favorite all time printmaker. She is the author of the ageless Etching, Engraving and Other Intaglio Printmaking Techniques. I am pasting the link here. Unfortunately as I understand it, Ruth doesn't get royalties any longer! But her words are wise and the book is still the basis for many a printmaking course in Universities and Colleges.
She is also an incredible artist and relief printmaker and I am proud to own and display some of her prints. So why the plug? No reason, I just love Ruth and felt like telling the world!

Here is her contribution, nestled among the African Sumac mulched leaves and just below one of our favorite hardy "volunteers", the Mojave Globe Mallow. The Globe Mallow sprouts here and there all over the desert. Water it and it grows faster but also dies faster. Any bush, grass or tree that grows and thrives out here by itself earns my respect. The flowers are bright orange and the stems a delicate pale ash green.

Ruth Leaf - Venice California USA

Mystery Solved

A while back I showed a mystery block carved by my other favorite printmaker David Bull. Dave churns away in his Seseragi Studio in Japan and now has accomplices to help him fill the world with woodblock prints. His wise words are best heard first hand through the amazing rich media book Your First Print,

If you recall, his block was carved from a single delicate line and the critter hidden within was...well, hidden! Today I succumbed to temptation and decided to pull a print just to see what it would look like. I sure hope we can do it justice when printing the big blocks!

Here are the block to refresh your memories, and the print I pulled with an enlargement. The beastie revealed!!!

David Bull's block to refresh your memories
The printed beastie!
Larger view, look at it for a long time and you will enter
an alternate reality...ommmmmm

Important Dates and Notes

Only two months to go to the deadline! August 31st is fast approaching.
Please send your image information as soon as you know what you are doing via this page:

Thursday, July 4, 2013

A Bee!

About Those Bees

When I was a child growing up in Spain we used to spend part of our summers in wine country, just inland of Barcelona. I remember Spaniards always working and the summer season was no different. Part of our late summer "vacation" was spent gathering grapes from the hardy vineyards.

We were afforded a curved wicked knife and a basket and pretty much let loose. Even as a young child I could figure out that one hand carried the knife, the other gathered a bunch of grapes gently, cut the stem and  put the grapes in the basket. When the basket weighed too much for a 9-year old, I walked back to the tractor-pulled flat cart and exchanged it for an empty.
Mornings quickly got warm and I remember being continually surrounded by happy buzzing bees. The bees were everywhere, on the sweet grapes, on the vines, on our arms and hands, zigging and zagging around our heads and on the basket that we carried. As long as we didn't get excited, neither did the bees.

Here is a bee by my fellow Las Vegas dweller. Appropriately, I precariously balanced it on our trellis, which serves as a framework for our cocktail white grapevines. I couldn't make up my mind which picture I liked best!

Daryl DePry - Las Vegas Nevada USA
My piece was inspired by the importance of the honey bee and its power to pollinate all flowering plant life to insure the next crop/cycle. Sketching bees in my garden posed quite a challenge and I resorted to the digital camera. My background was not intended to represent what was captured, i wanted it to be ambiguous and the focus was more towards the subject matter.

Daryl DePry - Las Vegas Nevada USA
(Maria's comment: This picture shows a bit more of the trellis but I couldn't get the entire block in the  sunshine. Still, I liked how that grapevine runner hugged the block.)

Important Dates and Notes

Only two months to go to the deadline! August 31st is fast approaching.
Please send your image information as soon as you know what you are doing via this page:

Fantastic Garden Headquarters: http://puzzleprints.blogspot.com

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Three more beauties!

Important Dates and Notes

Only two months to go to the deadline! August 31st is fast approaching.
Please send your image information as soon as you know what you are doing via this page:

New Arrivals

I received a visit today from my  buddy Dary DePry and his overgrown son! Well, overgrown because last time I saw him he was merely a babe in arms, quite literally; I guess it's been a while. In any case, a very pleasant surprise indeed and another block to photograph in the cool 96 degree morning...tomorrow about 5:00 am!

In the meantime, here are three more. If you have missed the updates, check the left column links on this blog and see all the nice additions to our Fantastic Garden. So far a very nice variety of images coming in! I thought I would place the lotus in the midst of a Century Plant, the marvelous flower girl among the flowers of the hardy Oleander, and the mouse...well, mice are always afoot! this one hiding among the fallen and low leaves of my very productive fig tree.
Stephanie Chao - Southern California USAswchao.328 at gmail.com
I have been carving on soft blocks for a number of years, but this is my first attempt at woodblock carving.  The lotus is one of my favorite flowers.  

George Jarvis - Shimokitate Akita JAPAN

Wendy Morris - Spokane Washington USA

Fantastic Garden Headquarters: http://puzzleprints.blogspot.com

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Fluttering Above block is done!


The skeleton blocks are slowly but surely getting carved.
Here are pics of the second block. I'm already digging into the third! How empty they are without their little puzzle pieces...hint..hint...

Fluttering Above!

Fantastic Garden Headquarters: http://puzzleprints.blogspot.com

Monday, July 1, 2013

19 In! 71 To Go

Numbers Game

Yesterday we broke the all time city record of 118 F degrees. At that temperature, the camera gets hot to the touch in about 5 minutes and quits working in 12; it's a safety feature, I'm told. My car-mometer (or truck-mometer to be more precise) tells me it was 124 F just off the pavement. The news reports inside-the-car temperatures hit 152 F, just so you don't leave your Chihuahua in there, not even for a minute.

Nearby Death Valley, about 170 y pico miles from Las Vegas Nevada, matched the record 129 F degrees. Some folks carrying thermometers reported unofficial temperatures of 135 F degrees. Which begs the question, what are they doing there?! "We wanted to feel what it was like" said a couple of Northern European tourists with skin the color of fully ripened pomegranates.

Anyhow these days it is tough to find a spot in the garden that has a resemblance of colorful life in it! But the oleanders don't seem to care much and the Palo Verdes, actually a native from Arizona, are now in full bloom. There are 19 blocks resting in the shade of the studio and eagerly awaiting 71 more to come. If you send them, I will venture in the heat to takes pictures of them, so long as my camera holds up! 

Important Dates and Notes

Only two months to go to the deadline! August 31st is fast approaching.
Please send your image information as soon as you know what you are doing via this page:

On to the images!

Constance Brewer - Gillette Wyoming USA
What's a garden with out a small, humanoid creature of the gnome variety in it? No mere lawn ornament, this gnome is set to protect and defend all the denizens of his garden, fantastical or mundane. Unfortunately, someone's been playing with bubbles and this gnome has gotten himself trapped in one, and is floating about the Fantastic Garden, wondering where he'll come to rest. 

Vicki LoSasso - Reno Nevada USA
art at vickilosasso.com   inklingv at gmail.com
Woodcarving has always intimidated me, so the decision to participate in Fantastic Garden wasn't an easy one. But I LOVE collaborative projects, remembered Maria from Geographical Divides,another collaborative project, and decided I should challenge myself and dive in.
I created several creatures I thought could live in a fantastic garden, and the little guy in my carving was my favorite. I worked the image out in soft-cut before I braved carving into the wood.

I am very grateful to Maria for making this Fantastic Garden come to life!

Fantastic Garden Headquarters: http://puzzleprints.blogspot.com