31 December 2011

Happy Year of the Dragon

2011. What a challenging, strange, difficult and sometimes wonderful year. Here in New England we had big snow, tons of rain, a tornado, a hurricane that washed out roads, and a freak October blizzard that felled many beautiful old trees (Lynn and I spent thousands of our 2011 dollars dealing with water and weather issues). I attended an unsettling number of funerals this year, and watched some friends, including friends in Japan, go through difficult times. In the political world there were revolutions and protests everywhere, and here in the U.S. the sudden urgency of Occupy Wall Street. Meanwhile, the economy continues to feel frighteningly unstable.

Yet 2011 wasn't all bad. I got to go to Japan for the First International Mokuhanga Conference in 2011. I started a new print series that looks like it will continue well into 2012. My family and I are all healthy and employed and doing OK, and I have a large "family" of friends as well. I'm grateful to have good people in the river with me as we ride these waves of change together.

Overall I'm glad to see 2011 go. But I worry that 2012 won't be any easier, and when I found out that 2012 is The Year of the Dragon in the Chinese zodiac my uneasiness was not relieved. This article in the Japan Times echoes my own feelings about 2012. The author writes,
The year of the dragon, which is now very nearly upon us, certainly looks to be a year that will bear all of the fearsome characteristics of its zodiac namesake. It seems to me that much of what happened this year had the air of a preview, or a rehearsal perhaps, for the actual drama set to unfold next year.
I hope that's not true, but just in case, I'm cultivating my warrior spirit. For me, that means resolving to keep my body healthy and in shape, to stay flexible and open to spontaneity and surprise, to stay close to my loved ones, and to use my resources wisely. For my Year of the Dragon nengajou postcard (above) I decided that rather than picturing the dragon I'd focus on the knight/warrior who faces the dragon, not knowing if it's friend or foe, not knowing what will be demanded in the encounter. You may recognize the "fire" that tickles the knight's face -- it's from the print I made earlier this year called Great Wave. The curlicue design is from the back of a US $1 bill.

I wish us all courage, wisdom and, yes, joy as we face this new year. Let us find rest and comfort in one another and let us learn, finally, that we're in this together.

love, Annie

05 December 2011



Japanese-method woodblock (moku hanga)
Image size: 35" x 21" (89 x 53 cm)
Paper size: 38.5" x 25" (98 x 63.5 cm)
1 shina plywood block, 2 birch blocks
10 hand-rubbed color layers
Paper: Shikoku White
Edition: 7

Pyramid and eye are enlarged from the back of a U.S. dollar bill.
Figure is from a found 1880 etching of migrant workers in a field. __________________________________

The pyramid image found on the back of the U.S. dollar bill is part of the Great Seal of the U.S. and is, as my friend Mary so aptly put it the other day, "kind of strange." The eye, which I find especially odd, is said to indicate that God, or Providence, favors the U.S. enterprise and will watch over it.

I moved the eye farther away from the bottom portion of the pyramid and inserted a small human figure between the two to give the meaning a different twist. The figure is from an 1880 etching I found of a group of African American migrant workers in a cotton field, their labors watched over with care by a white man.

I love the posture of this figure. To me the man looks weary, as if he just arrived at the top of the 13 steps, and he seems to be in the act of turning towards the eye, maybe just realizing that he's not going to get there from where he is. The way he's holding his right arm almost looks to me as if he's about to raise it, in defiance or in frustration. Even though the drawing is from 1880, the pose looks modern to me and it feels like an accurate posture for expressing the feeling you can have when you've worked really hard for something and fallen short. Or the just-waking-up feeling embodied in the Occupy Wall Street movement.

The sky and star trails were very difficult to print, so the sky is a little different in every one of this edition of seven. I guess I'm still nowhere near being a master printer, but I sure enjoy making these prints. Hope you enjoy them too.

01 December 2011

Printing the Drill Drawing


This week I printed the sky portion of the Pyramid print, which I had previously drawn on the block with an electric drill. I printed three layers of color, and because the drill lines weren't very deep the printed lines closed up quite a bit.


Fortunately the last layer, the blue, was a strong color, so it came out OK. Next up is the final linework (keyblock).