The Sisters Wyrd

The Sisters Wyrd 2017 Relief print (four plates) on paper
The Sisters Wyrd
2017
Relief print (four plates) on paper

After a rather arduous process I have at last finished my latest relief print depicting the “weird” sisters from Macbeth (actually any practitioner of ancient arts). It is for an upcoming show here in LA devoted to Bad Girls, and as witchery and pagan ways have beguiled me since boyhood (going so far as memorizing the witches’ lines from the bard’s play), I felt they were a worthy subject. I wanted to laud the women (and men) who have been maligned and persecuted in the past. I also wanted to, as in the middle sister, explore intersex identity. What I like about this print is that it recalls a stained glass window, a pagan stained glass window to ancient seers and prophets. 

But I hadn’t anticipated such difficulty in the making. Perhaps it is a testament to my increasing skill in printmaking,but my expectations are now higher. And as with my painting practice, as I make progress, I also find myself more keenly aware of how to improve the work.  In this case, after rather laboriously cutting multiple plates and running a rather sizable series of prints, after reflection , I just felt the print to not be up to par.

img_0938

The cutting of the plate (s) above, and the enthusiastic running of sixteen prints.

img_0942

And the lackluster results.

Initial print of "The Sisters Wyrd".
Initial print of “The Sisters Wyrd”.

Having run the series on a Friday, by the time I returned on Sunday, the print seemed cramped and illegible. I have a high tolerance for density and visual information , but I found myself unable to read the image.

First proof.
First proof.

So back to the cutting table, the previous series essentially material for collage.

The final, revised proof.
The final, revised proof.

This new series is smaller (mostly because I have run low on good printing paper) , I was concentrating on making a sound image, not quantity. As it is, in a series of six, only half are in high enough quality to market. I had trouble with the density of black, too much “snow-flaking”, as in this blue version. 

img_1136Given the small run and limited number of prints available, they are artist’s proofs. But I now feel confident that the next run will be a success. To ensure that success I may resort to a spell or two:

 

First Witch
Thrice the brinded cat hath mew’d.

Second Witch
Thrice and once the hedge-pig whined.

Third Witch
Harpier cries “‘Tis time, ’tis time.”

First Witch
Round about the cauldron go;
In the poison’d entrails throw.
Toad, that under cold stone
Days and nights has thirty-one
Swelter’d venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first i’ the charmed pot.

All
Double, double, toil and trouble; (10)
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.

Second Witch
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the cauldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg and howlet’s wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

All
Double, double, toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

Third Witch
Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf,
Witches’ mummy, maw and gulf
Of the ravin’d salt-sea shark,
Root of hemlock digg’d i’ the dark,
Liver of blaspheming Jew,
Gall of goat, and slips of yew
Silver’d in the moon’s eclipse,
Nose of Turk and Tartar’s lips,
Finger of birth-strangled babe (30)
Ditch-deliver’d by a drab,
Make the gruel thick and slab:
Add thereto a tiger’s chaudron,
For the ingredients of our cauldron.

All
Double, double, toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

Second Witch
Cool it with a baboon’s blood,
Then the charm is firm and good.

[Enter Hecate, to the other three Witches]

Hecate
O well done! I commend your pains;
And every one shall share i’ the gains;
And now about the cauldron sing,
Live elves and fairies in a ring,
Enchanting all that you put in.

[Music and a song: ‘Black spirits,’ etc, Hecate retires]

Second Witch
By the pricking of my thumbs,
Something wicked this way comes.
Open, locks,
Whoever knocks!

Until next time, be well.

LG

 

On Bosworth Field

Part of my studio practice lately has been to work with  acrylic on the weekend, putting to canvas images as spontaneously as possible. This practice benefits from my readings which often serve as an inspiration. Having just finished Richard III, the following is a result of this new and at times challenging experiment .

IMG_5957

On Bosworth Field

2015

acrylic on canvas

16 by 20″

 Richard III offers many scenes of pathos, violence and questionable morality, often with great wit, Richard is a very funny fellow. But only one scene inspired me to put it to paint ,Act V, scene 3.  Set on Bosworth Field, on the eve of battle, Richard is in his tent; his enemy (and future king Henry VII) Richmond is in his. Richard when he needs to be as steely and as brave as he ever has been ,is set upon by the ghosts of all those he  has slain: Prince Edward, Henry VI, Clarence, Rivers, Grey, Vaughan, the young princes, Hastings, Lady Anne and Buckingham. Quite an assembly and each rattles his slumber with the curse “Despair and die”. With that joyful tiding they depart, leaving Richard rattled and  in despair;they then  head to Richmond’s tent offering him the blessing of “Live and flourish! “. One can guess the outcome.

So this is that pivotal moment, and the one I chose to depict- with many liberties taken, the young princes are far from boyhood.

I’m not sure what I think of this painting and it has taken a certain degree of will and courage even  to just post it. But my discipline with this studio journal  is to post work even when I am unsure about it. I may go back to this painting, soften it, creating a more subtle surface with oil . I’m not sure, I might very well just shove it in the closet with the other forlorn paintings and drawings I have made. There is enough within the painting to justify not just chucking it, which is my usual inclination. It might inspire something in the future as this following sketch did for this very painting. I made the sketch after having read the remains of Richard III had been authenticated a few years back. I based the drawing upon the skeleton as it had been found. At the time the crooked skeleton seemed to validate the hunchbacked myth but that seems to have been disproven.

IMG_5958

If I am unsure of the painting I am sure of Richard III, its an incredible play.

Now onto Othello.

Be well,

Lg

Macbeth Act IV.i.90-115

I don’t set out to paint gruesome images yet somehow they keep popping up-in this case literally out of the cauldron. Since  a boy, I have loved Macbeth, it is the only work by Shakespeare that I had memorized passages of, namely the incredible spells cast by the Weird Sisters. In re-reading the play many decades later I find myself still drawn to the witchy drama of the fourth act.

The apparitions the three  bearded ones begrudgingly conjure up for brave Macbeth are particularly terrifying: an Armed Head , a Bloody Child and lastly a Child Crowned with a Tree in Hand. They call to mind armorial devices.

Given this inspiration I have attempted to depict, once again as spontaneously as possible, what I have just finished reading; a form of automatic drawing in conjunction with literature. Or as my dear friend Dr. Claire Barbetti might say, a studio practice incorporating ekphrastic traditions.

That said, it is a bit ghoulish.

IMG_5946Macbeth IV.i. 90-115

or

The Second Apparition

2015

acrylic on canvas

16 by 2o inches

I now need to go finish Richard III,  but do not expect images of infanticide.

 Until then,

be well,

Lg

 

Lavinia, she is haunting me

I have been reading the plays of Shakespeare, Hamlet, Macbeth, Othello, now Richard III, but it is Titus Andronicus that has stuck with me, most particularly the tragic Lavinia. It is such a terrible and bloody tale that I would rather not revisit it yet I feel compelled to somehow honor Lavinia. To capture the brutal chaos that was her life. The following, a spontaneously  dashed off acrylic painting on canvas is one attempt.

IMG_5914

Lavinia

 2015

acrylic on canvas

16 by 20 inches

I wanted to avoid the obvious ( and seductive) bloody approach; instead I focused on her claustrophobic impotence, the pawn of so many men. And although there is tenderness shown towards Lavinia and empathy for her plight, as when her uncle,Marcus Andronicus, after her terrible rape and mutilation attempts to soothe her with: 

Do not draw back, for we will mourn with thee:

O,could our mourning ease thy misery!” 

Act II 4, 56-57

There is this tenderness, this paternal, fraternal love yet she has no say-literally. And in the end, well the end , how does one deal with it all?

She haunts me, this sketch I made just last night before I went to bed.

IMG_5918

I’m toying with the idea of making a hand puppet , perhaps. I also wouldn’t mind not thinking about it.

Be well,

Lg