15 August 2013

Sometimes I'm Married 2013

2-color Japanese-method woodblock (moku hanga)
6" x 8" (15 x 20 cm)
edition: an ongoing series

On August 15, 2004, my partner Lynn and I, who had already been together for 13 years, were married in our home in Massachusetts in the the company of 60 friends and family. This was three months after our right to marry had been affirmed by the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, which found that there was no “constitutionally adequate reason” for denying marriage to same-sex couples. For the next four years, I was only married in Massachusetts, which made for some interesting (and confusing) situations. Finally, in 2008, California (for a brief time) joined Massachusetts in allowing gay marriage, so that year I began making a yearly map of where I am and am not legally married. The series is titled “Sometimes I'm Married” and I've typically made a new version of the map each year on my August 15 anniversary.

This year, by virtue of several legislative actions plus a court ruling, California, Minnesota, Delaware and Rhode Island have been added to the ‘I am married’ category. It will be interesting to see what happens from here on, as various states react and respond to the recent Supreme Court ruling striking down DOMA.

Welcome back, California! Thank you, Minnesota, Delaware and Rhode Island. And happy anniversary, dear Lynn.

13 August 2013

Cherry Blossom


White line reduction woodblock print
5" x 7" (12.7 x 17.8 cm) image on Echizen Kozo paper
edition: 15

This is the final state of the reduction white line grid print I worked on last week. It’s not what I envisioned or expected, but there are a lot of things I really like about it.

I like the intense emboss.
I like the colors.
I thoroughly enjoyed the process, from start to finish.
I like that it looks like cross stitch.
I like that you can’t quite tell what it is.
I like that it looks different at various sizes (or offline, from various distances).

This whole thing started as a sort of a joke. I was visiting my mother a couple of weeks ago and we were talking about how difficult it is to sell my art. My mother is convinced that it's because of my subject matter, which is probably true. So I quipped, “Yeah, you're right. I should probably make some prints of flowers.” My mom, needless to say, thought it was a great idea and that I would sell a lot of them.

Later that day I got an email from Zea Mays Print Studio about their annual ‘Print Fair North’ and on the heels of that conversation with my mother I had a little light bulb moment. Last year at the Print Fair it was my smaller one-off prints that sold well. Why not make small prints specifically for the Print Fair? And why not test my mom’s theory and make prints of flowers?

So I looked at all the photos I’ve taken of flowers over the years to see if I had any material to work with. I have to admit I’m not a very good photographer, but I do have a lot of flower photos. Then I became daunted. I thought about all of the great woodblock artists who do or have done flowers. The Print Fair is in November, just three months away. I don't have time to become a great printer of florals. Maybe stylized floral patterns would be a good approach for me? I needed to find some approach to working with my photos that felt like it was do-able and would hold my interest. I'm not quite sure how it came to me, but I picked one of the photos, cropped it, played with the colors a little in Photoshop, blurred the heck out of it and put a grid over it.

Here's what I was working from:

I enjoyed the process, so I plan to do a few more of these and see if I can get something happening. Or not. We'll see. Learning new things is never a waste of time.

08 August 2013

More White Line Grid Printing


Here’s where things stand after another day of printing. The source for this is a photograph over which I placed a grid in Photoshop, and I’m trying to roughly match the color of each square. Which, of course, is impossible. I’m flying by the seat of my pants, as they say. It’s an experiment, and there’s no doing it over again because I’m ‘reducing’ the block — carving away parts of it prior to each new color application. The color balance is not much like the photo any more, but like I said, there’s no going back in this process.

So it’s full of surprises and not at all how I thought it would look, but it’s definitely fun. I’ll be back at it again tomorrow, and I’ll show you what happens.

White Line Print, Sort Of

I've been wanting to try white line printing for a long time now, but I've never quite found the right project. A white line print is a print made with a single block, where the outlines of the drawing are carved with a knife or narrow chisel and then watercolors are applied and printed one by one. The method was developed in Provincetown Mass during the early 20th century and is best exemplified by the artist Blanche Lazzell.

My white line print is not quite like Blanche Lazelle's work, I'm afraid. Rather than beginning with a drawing, I've begun with a grid. Just a personality thing, I guess. I work best with structure.


Once I had my grid, I carved away all of the squares that I wanted to remain white and I printed with the palest of blues. On the soft damp Echizen Kozo paper that I'm using, the grid made a beautiful emboss. I almost wanted to stop right there.


But I continued. I carved away a few squares and printed again, and did the same thing a third time. Then some selective inking with some pink.


I'll tell you next time where I think I'm going with this.

01 August 2013

Chapter One: The Curse

Here is a simple two-color print that will serve as the opener for the first chapter of God Is Our Witness. I've been working on this book without a clear overview, but it's become clearer with the completion of this first chapter, titled “The Curse.” That’s a melodramatic title, I know. The prints that make up this chapter have been kind of melodramatic, though. I guess that's because coming out as gay in the 1970s was pretty full of drama. It was a dangerous thing to do. We were subject to ridicule at best and violence at worst, were often fired from jobs, rejected as tenants, kicked out of our families or faith communities, and ‘un-friended’ in real life. There was plenty of drama.

The next chapter is tentatively titled “Counter-Spells” and it will deal with various GLBT organizations and coalitions that moved the gradual and seemingly inexorable march towards acceptance that has occurred in America over the past 40 or so years. This next group of prints will be less figurative, more abstract. I haven’t done a lot of abstract work, so please wish me luck!

~ Annie