St. Kevin and the Blackbird

Fresh off the Press: St. Kevin and the Blackbird


St. Kevin and the Blackbird

relief print on paper

12 by 12 inches

I have been intrigued with St. Kevin since having seen Clive Hicks-Jenkins  wonderful depictions of the long suffering saint.

Falling in love with Seamus Heaney’s poem St. Kevin and the Blackbird closed the deal.

I have been doodling this wonderful fellow ever since, what isn’t there to love?,  a pious man yet all too human,  stuck in his cramped hermitage, in conflict (or perhaps not) as to how to proceed in life, which path to take. Happily charity and compassion triumphs over self-interest.

 I was unfamiliar with this saint, perhaps he is an Anglican saint ; I do not  know, but I do know I am smitten.  I imagine a few more images of the fellow will pop now and then.

Until that time, take care and may St. Kevin bless you with patience and grace,


Author: babylonbaroque

I am a painter and printmaker working towards creating a body of work that reflects my own developing aesthetic. New work ,first link. The second link is an on-line portfolio.

18 thoughts on “St. Kevin and the Blackbird”

  1. Not that you need my opinion, but I’ll tell you anyway–this is your best print to date. It’s stunning and reminiscent of William Morris in your use of the leafy patterned background. And you’re absolutely right: the poem by Heaney is its textual equivalent, perhaps even bested by your lovely rendering of the pain and joy of our existence. Marvelous!

    1. Dear Robert,
      Perhaps I don’t “need” another’s opinion in any actual sense, but I do value yours, so thank you. In reality I receive little feed-back from my instructor,your words are most welcome. My instructor did (begrudgingly?) admire the tree, but aside from technique not sure if he actually thought it any good. I like the print, happy you do as well. Any comparison to Master Morris is ALWAYS welcomed! Take care,LG

  2. He’s marvellous. What an exciting surprise to see such a different rendering from Clive’s, which I think perhaps I love almost the most out of his work. I feel it reminds me of something but I’m not quite sure what or from where, that paradoxical sense of recognition and newness that some art does provoke. Perhaps something of Arts and Crafts book illustration indeed, the wood and lino cuts in old books I grew up with, but with a strength and originality of its own.

    Kevin is a Celtic saint, of whom there are squillions known and revered in Ireland, Wales and Brittany but who never quite made it into the official Roman canon, I think.

    1. Thank you for the info concerning Kevin, it is a pityhe hasn’t been recognized. I have several dictionaries of R.C. saints and only one makes a mention of him, sadly they do not mention his blackbird; just a begrudging ” many extravagant miracles were attributed to Kevin”. The official church is missing out if they ignore such a marvelous miracle, so ripe for interpretation and reflection. Viva the Celts.
      Thank you for the kind words concerning the print itself. I hadn’t intended an Arts & Crafts aesthetic but it is deep rooted, we may very well have grown up with the same picture books- they still bring me great pleasure and inspiration.

  3. Oh!
    I completely adore this print. I don’t even know if I’ve ever gotten around to using the word adore before, but this merits it. It is really so wonderful Leonard. I first came across St Kevin because of the Heaney poem and I am so happy to find that he is making appearances in your work and Clive’s.
    Even if that other print you wrote about was the worst thing ever made (and I’m sure it wasn’t) this makes up for it times one hundred.

    1. I’ll take adoration (-:
      Clive introduced me to St. Kevin, through his wonderful depictions; then through the Heaney poem, which I am crazy about.
      I think I was determined to redeem my previous studio failures and get on with it. This is the first print that I have been happy with. I’m thrilled others like it as well. thank you.

  4. Well there we are. All has been resolved with a wonderful print that sweeps away all the disappointments of the ‘reduction’ experience. I’m only sorry your tutor was grudging. This deserves fulsome praise, and it’s good to see that you’re getting it here. You’ve handled the patterning beautifully, so that it’s both decorative and yet a part of the architecture of the piece. Well done Leonard. Big hugs.

    1. Funny how it works like that , abject devastation, celestial bliss- bi-polar anyone? (:
      That aside, thanks, I am happy with it, as happy as I allow myself anyway.
      My poor instructor, he just doesn’t understand my aesthetic, he would cringe at the mere mention of decorative, doesn’t have much regards for the A&C Movement, doesn’t particularly like Durer (too fussy)and doesn’t consider Blake a printmaker.
      Madness, but he knows technique forward and backwards and that is what I seek- most of the time.
      Big hugs to you as well dear friend (and inspiration).

  5. Wow this is absolutely captivating – such humility and yes very reminiscent of A&C but that is a good thing when handled so well. All food for my thoughts – thank -you. Is your instructor fulsome of praise for others or just a tad tardy towards everyone? Despite what you call your earlier failings – I think you have a gift for this process it suits your aesthetic well. Always engaging great stuff.

    1. First off, happy we can inspire one another, your “St. Sebastian’s Wife” inspired me to paint an Ecce Homo (previous post). Happy to be engaged in a creative conversation.
      As per my poor teacher, frankly I think his eye is hyper attuned to technical concern; aesthetics at this point might seem beside the point. His charge is to teach procedure and praise is held back until technique is fully mastered. I understand that, but the sensitive side to my nature is hurt by that at times.
      I am pleased that you and my other kind friends have been so generous with the encouragement.

      1. Yes your poor teacher – a little praise can mine such greater depths – and be so much more rewarding for all parties. I have never tried ‘proper printmaking’ but do understand that there is a lot of technique involved to produce the perfect print. I think you are doing marvellously well and can’t wait to see some more results. I will be able to spend hours working around your sites and through your links for ‘saints research’ thanks Leonard – for providing such a great spring board.

      2. Check my other blog Babylon Baroque on side bar . Not sure what I have there but you should find some saint imagery .
        Happy if it can be an inspiration , have a great weekend,

  6. oh, i am crazy about that bird! the way you have rendered the sky is brilliant (in both senses) and energetic, it really gives the whole piece an amazing life…

    really fantastic!! congratulations!!

    1. Thank ya, I enjoyed figuring out how to make a blackbird legible, I’m happy it was effective!

  7. I can only repeat the praise of previous commentators, fan-tas-tic! Masterful, the story is so alive in this print, I love every square millimetre of it, Kevin, the bird, the foliage, the sky, all harmonious but full of energy, wonderful

    1. Dear Phil,
      Repetition most welcome as I admire your work and value your aesthetic judgement. I feel I may at last better understand the principles of cutting, infancy stages, but at least I’m off the floor walking about on unsteady legs.
      Thanks again,

    1. Dear John,
      I’m thrilled you like it, given your expertise in all things Morris/Arts&Crafts I take that as a tremendous compliment .
      Thank you,

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