Zachariah, 2020, Archival Digital Photo
My proud Pilgrim Gander, Zach, has just fathered a son, Burdock. Pilgrim Geese are doting parents and Zach watches his boy attentively at all times. It is being able to know and observe these beings that balances the horror of the national scene I read about and the ugliness, from the Minnesota murder of a man whose crime was being Black, to the milestone of deaths from Covid-19 that we just passed.
Nightmare, 2020, Archival Digital Print
Life is surreal now, I live in what is my Eden, a magical piece of land which is so beautiful and so serene that I think I’m in a dream and against that the news I follow which is the upside down, and so mean and brutal with this living Evil in the Oval Office, that it is hard to know what or where is The Real.
Sketchbook Page, 2020, gouache, cut papers
We are learning how this virus and its attendant restrictions effect us. I find I lose concentration easily so am going from one thing to another faster than is customary in the studio. Just pay attention. That’s the rule.
Hatched on Sunday and Monday, these perfect little Pilgrim goslings joined us on the Homestead, tiny and ready for a good Goose life. Given all the darkness of this virus and the calamity of the current bumbling administration and the needless loss of life, Nature reminds us of the miracles around us.
Perfection, 2020, Archival Digital Print
The new documentary is not for the fainthearted. Planet of the Humans is free on YouTube. See it at your own peril. You won’t get through it without being changed and sobered. And very saddened. Don’t watch it alone. You’ll need comfort after it’s over.
Now that I live on the land, I am more sensitive to the sacredness of the planet. I expect if we continue our greedy consumption and yearning for more and more, we will just be killed off. Fairly quickly, too. This may be only the first of more coming pandemics as we destroy swaths of forests and deserts and gobble up more and more for our energy needs. In the big picture, humans just aren’t worth it. We are too greedy, out of balance and let’s face it, too destructive.
Good Friday, 2020, Archival Digital Print
It’s an overcast day, the green of the grass is intense and deep in this steely light. Yesterday was the same with very high winds and an eeriness because of the knowledge of Covid-19’s destruction of lives and its forever effect on families. Looking for the Good may be a challenge now in an age of so much confusion, but reach for it we must.
Flower in Vase, 2020, Woodblock on Rice Paper
During this unprecedented time of threat, we keep working in any way we can. I find woodcut difficult so am keeping it simple. It’s too bizarre a time to consciously address this pandemic in the studio. That may come later when it filters down out of the subconscious, but for now, I just want each day to feel as if I didn’t waste it.
Exploring the mind and habits of an artist in twenty-five questions.
Hans Holbein, The Miser, The Dance of Death, Woodblock, 1523-5
Underneath all of our anxiety, our food and gun hoarding, is The Grim Reaper, his insistent trod, scythe in hand, plucking souls as he goes. It’s what none of us say aloud: you or I could be next. We have always known it was in our future, vague, general, but way, way out there in the future. Now our reckoning may be around the corner. We aren’t worried about getting sick any more than we are about getting a cold. We’re afraid we might die! Dead. Over. Gone.
One of my favorite little books I studied endlessly as an art student was Hans Holbein’s Dance of Death, a series of woodblock prints. It is a marvel of drawing and composition illustrating Death’s harvest at every level of the social order. No one is exempt.
I was so inspired I started my own series, the studies are lost somewhere in a pile of old sketchbooks. Then I forgot about it until now. Like all art, Holbein’s work remains timeless, waiting for us when we’re ready and scared to death.
February Fog, 2020, Archival Digital Print
It’s been a good week of work and a nodding to the power of place.