Saturday, September 18, 2010

Back Again!

Thanks to all who came this way in this long absence and especially Willow and Margaret for checking in. I had a stroke and have been very fortunate to have recovered and now putting my life back together and part of it is to try and get back to the blogging but probably only once a week. Have not been following or doing blogging since that time. When the time came it took me days to try and remember my password LOL.
I went back to work part time but pooped out,now out at the cabin on the coast for a month or so to recuperate again and regain strength. Resting up, napping reading, picking the last of the blackberries, collecting chantrelles, chasing salmon and doing a little cooking.
Cheers to all and for all the kind thoughts that came my way. And a special thanks to Cathy for inspiring me to start blogging again.
your bloggy friend Stephen

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Novel Without Words - Lynd Ward

It's been a busy last few days at the gallery. The Calgary Artwalk was having it's 25th year of inviting people out for a stroll through participating galleries over the weekend. The fall weather was fabulous and the gallery (Arts on Atlantic) hosted two artist demonstrations, so I have been very busy.

The novel without words or so called graphic novel came of age with the telling of stories through the use of image only, no text. What we know today as a 'graphic novel' refers to comic style, novel length stories told with accompanying balloon text. In essence the story can be relayed through the use of the pictures and the text and in many cases the story line can be gleaned by perusing the pictures without the text.
Some early proponents of the wordless novel include Lawrence Hyde, Otto Nuckel, Frans Masreel and Lynd Ward. All of these artists used the traditional relief printmaking techniques of wood engraving or woodcut as their medium of choice. This was laborious work as each image was to be cut on a block. In many cases the final books (Novels) were printed from the blocks themselves. The wood engraving or woodblock in black and white makes a strong image and is a very good medium to convey a story line.
These novels were in many cases politically or morally motivated and were used to convey a message to the masses. American artist Lynd Ward brpought the idea of the graphic novel to the US. Lynd Ward decided to be an artist when at an early age he realized that his last name spelt backwards is "Draw". He studied in Germany under Hans Alexander Mueller a noted wood engraver. There he was exposed to the works of Belgian, Frans Masreel, and the German, Otto Nuckel. His ideas for a graphic novel were forming.
Soon after returning to the US his first graphic novel Gods' Man was released. Interestingly enough it was published and released the week of the big stock market crash of 1929 and the beginning of the Great Depression. It was so successful it was into it's third printing by January of 1930. There were 139 wood engraved images printed on one side of the page only. It explores the life of an artist and price of artist fame. Here are the first few images.

Dover Publications recently published the full unabridged replications of Gods'Man and Ward's second work , Madmans Drum. Tommorow more on Lynd Ward.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Wordless Book

Been chasing rainbows again! That's my fishing buddy and we are working our way up the Oldman River in Southern Alberta, a slice of paradise and a wonderful wilderness area. That's a healthy rainbow getting ready to go back home.

Flyfishing in the wilderness is an invigorating experience and one just leaves time behind and can experience the Zen of Flyfishing.
Chasing Rainbows
Are we not all in search of rainbows
Is it the pot of gold we are searching out,
or the brilliant colours themselves?
We search in vain, hill and dale
stumbling, sliding, aspiring.
What is the sound of a rainbow?
Could it be that the rainbow connection
is with us..... always. SM

Wilderness; The absence of so much, yet so full. Being in the wilderness got me thinking about wordless novels, the precursors of the graphic novel. An absence of words but a richness in image and a certain silence. There have been a number of artists who have experimented with this medium. Some I know of include Lynd Ward, Frans Masereel, Lawrence Hyde & Otto Nuckel.
Tommorow the graphic novels of Lynd Ward.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Beatrix - Entrepreneur

Peter Rabbit Race Game

Beatrix was not only a great artist, writer, conservationist, scientist and farmer. She was an astute business woman & entrepreneur.
Of course when no one would publish her Tales of Peter Rabbit she privately printed herself along with some other titles.
It wasn't long before Beatrix had ideas about games and toys and all manner of things related to her stories. She created a board game surrounding Peter Rabbit only to have it shelved by Warne & Co. Oddly enough when the going got tough at Warne (And it got seriously tough) the board game was brought back to light and ended up becoming a company saving item.
Beatrix created a Peter Rabbit doll. As Warne & Co had not copyrighted Peter Rabbit in the US, cheap knock off dolls were being created. She made a superior design and received a patent for it. She prodded Warne but ended up finding a manufacturer herself and then took control of the derivatives or in her words, "side shows", that included items like painting books, dolls, games & wallpaper. Today upwards of 2000 products a year bear the likeness of Peter Rabbit.
The books continued and in all some 23 were published over her lifetime. Peter Rabbit alone has sold an astonishing 40 million copies printed since 1902

The Folio Society has a lovely duo boxed set (11& 12) of the tales, lovingly recreated. A link to an interesting audio interview with Judy Taylor (Author and Beatrix Potter collector) by Don Swaim of CBS about Beatrix Potter

Let's rest Miss Potter and go onto something else unless you want more.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Beatrix Potter, Conservationist & Farmer

Hilltop House

We have been looking at the writings of Beatrix and their origins. I thought we could divert to her incredible contribution to conservation and a British way of the life, the small hill farm. With the family trips to the lake country as a child and in later life, Beatrix formed a bond with the Lakes District country side. Many of the inspirations for animals and characters came from her country visits.
Beatrix was an astute business woman and on viewing Hilltop farm she decided she had found her oasis and decided to by it with the royalties from her first few books. Hilltop was to be her home until she purchased Castle Cottage which she would then make her homebase and many of the books that were to come were penned in that haven and the village of Near Sawrey. She married William Heelis from the lakes district in 1913, when she was 47, and they lived their life in Castle Cottage for some years . She spent many an hour restoring the buildings but more than that she made a commitment to keep the farm, a working farm. The surrounding Cumbria district would be come prime sketching material.
It was the concept of the traditional hill or fell farming that fascinated her. She immersed herself in the culture of fell farming and of keeping the unique sheep breeds most suited that style of farming. Not only did she acquire farmland as she expanded her holdings she acquired expertise in the farm hands, who she many times kept on. She was instrumental in preserving a way of life. In 1923 she bought Troutbeck farm.With the aid of a shepherd, George Walker, who was the brother-in-law of Tom Storey who ran Hill Top Farm in Sawrey she became an expert in breeding Herdwick sheep, winning many prizes at country shows with them. They built up a celebrated flock of Herdwick Sheep, a breed of small hardy sheep with course dark wool which is indigenous to the Lake District. Even in the 1920's they were a breed under threat as more and more farmers bred other breads of sheep with softer fleeces and more productive lambs.
TroutBeck Farm

Beatrix continued to buy property, and in 1930 bought the Monk Coniston Estate - 4000 acres from Little Langdale to Coniston - which contained Tarn Hows. This large sheep farm of 1900 acres was spectacularly sited on the lower slopes of Kirkstone Pass. It was under threat of development and Beatrix Potter was keen to keep the farm together as working unit, so she bought it. Beatrix Potter used the farm as a setting for the Fairy Caravan stories, and several other pieces. Some of her writing was done in a little study she had at the farm.
She was a scientist, farmer, a conservationist, an accomplished artist and writer all in one. She as an entrepreneur too which we will discuss later. I imagine her strolling the town setting of and sketching away at what ever caught her eye. I can see her wandering the borders of the lakes and tarns stopping to sketch what caught her eye. And Beatrix needed to draw, it was in her blood and a good dose of drawing would do her good so to speak.
Her land holdings portion of her estate were to be administered by the National Trust and she was adamant that the farms be kept working farms with minimal rent, on her passing. She formed a good bond with National Trust while alive and passed on certain lands while alive with the rest transferring with her estate. When she died on 22 December 1943, Beatrix Potter left fourteen farms and 4000 acres of land to the National Trust, together with her flocks of Herdwick sheep. She stipulated in her will that the farms she left to the Trust should be let at a moderate rent, and that the landlord's flocks of sheep on the fell farms should be pure Herdwick in breed. Beatrix was the first woman to be elected president-designate of the Herdwick Sheep Breeders' Association, which continues to flourish.
So because of Beatrix you may travel to the lakes district to Sawrey and see Hilltop, Troutbeck Farm much in they may they have always been and marvel in the intact woodlands, stone fences and quaint cottages and farming buildings in the district.

Beatrix Potter, a true renaissance woman. Tommorow, back to the picture letters and the evolution of Beatrix, the entrepreneur.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Mukkaering or to Mukka

Back from chasing fishies down in the beautiful land of the lotus. Notice the lovely fall colours! This fat cutthroat took a Gulper special . She lives to fight another day!
Mukkaering is an ancient, acquired skill requiring not only a steady hand but an acute awareness of atmospheric conditions, altitude adjustment scales and heat sensitivity awareness. One must also know the rites of the PGE (not a subset of the PRB). The PGE, Properly Ground Expresso, is an essential element in the rites of Mukkadom. In other words if you don't grind the coffee espresso, you may bugger up the machine.
Anyway, some helpful hints from the PMB (Post Mukka Brotherhoood);For Margaret
Please put water in the bottom chamber or you may blow a gasket!
PGE is placed in the middle chamber
2% milk creates lovely rich foam when placed in the upper chamber
Preheat element on the stove (works better this way)
Place Mukka on stove top, push button on top down for a cappuccino
Now wait for the soothing mukkaering sounds (Pop, that's the button popping, gurggle, gurggle, shissst, shisssssssst and then the tranquility of silenco)
Remove from heat source (or you burn the milk darlings)
Pour coffee into Mukka cups (essential) and then pour or spoon the foam.
Rinse the Mukka and leave a little water in (easy clean up later)
Take a sip and enter the divine state of Mukkadom.
You have now joined the PMB not to be confused with the pMB (pre Mukka Brotherhood)
Kick back with your favorite movie, book... oh what the hell break out the scrabble board.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Quirky City Here

I got tagged in the most gentle way by dear Willow so here are my quirks. Thank for including me Willow and the link on your blog!!

1. I luv my Mukka coffee maker and make a wonderful cappuccino with it every morning. ( Makes 2) It is simply the best thing since sliced bread.
2. I am a living hot water bottle; I run about 2-3 degrees internally hotter than the average person . You guessed it I am the guy turning down the thermostat and opening windows in winter!
3. I can get fascinated by the must ordinary things such as a leaf on the ground and will stop and observe it.
4. I pick up stuff and bring it home. I have a lot of stuff. Did I say I have a lot of stuff. Good for collages and mixed media. I mean you never know when you are going to need the "Stuff"
5. I don't wear a watch and haven't for 15 years.
6. I'm an Australian... I don't like the sun much...go figure.