Posted on November 22 2017
While I was finishing up my percolator print, I quietly started sketching and carving a very special print. I've been wanting to do a print of my dog Daisy for a while now. Years, actually. Initially, when I started printing back in 2009, I didn't think I had the skills to do her justice. That lack of confidence stayed with me for a long time.
However, as I started to think about what I was going to do for this year's calendar image*, she kept coming to mind. It started with a picture I took of my sweet pup. In the picture she was actually laying on the couch (her usual spot), but when I looked at my initial drawing, I envisioned her sleeping outside on a warm spring day. I played around with adding some birch trunks, as I love their graphic look, plus I planted two when I moved into my house. Then I started looking at a book I purchased a few years ago. The drawing on the cover has always struck me- the composition is perfect, I love the balance of soft fine lines with big, solid shapes, and those lines in the background! It all worked so well. So, I decided to give Daisy a similar treatment, and traded the birch trunks for just the leaves. I will say, carving those lines is much, much trickier than just drawing them. I think I did ok though, and I definitely gained more carving skills while working on this.
I decided to make this a variable edition, with two variables- paper and color. To start, I picked two beautiful papers to print on- a natural colored paper with bits of fiber running through it, made by Mohawk. The other is a 100% bright cotton paper by Cranes. I love how both turned out.
For the color, I started with a spring green. I liked the idea of a hopeful spring- a time of the year Daisy loves, as all sorts of smells are being uncovered as the snow melts and the earth comes alive. The second color, which I have yet to print, will be a golden yellow - the color my birch trees turn in the fall. I wanted to counter the youthful green with the slowing down of autumn. A time when the trees give us their last burst before the landscape is drained of color, and eventually covered with snow.
I know it's an obvious metaphor, but it's very much where we are now. Two months ago Daisy was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and since then I've been watching her dramatic slow down. As she loses her mobility and stumbles around the house, as the dementia type pacing starts up each evening, as she stares at me from her new favorite spots on the floor now that she's unable to get on the couch, it's a constant reminder of what she isn't capable of anymore. But each day she adapts to what her body is allowing. With seemingly little effort she accepts it and carries on. I know there's lessons for me to learn there. As someone who likes to plan, the uncertainty of all of this is often overwhelming. Until I look at Daisy, resting on her new pet bed, or shuffling in circles through the fresh snow, or still managing to beg for food every chance she gets, and I try my best to just enjoy each day I have with her.
Prints are available on my website. They are in an edition of 100 for the Mohawk natural fiber paper, and 25 for the Cranes Lettra.
*The calendar I mentioned is a fundraiser I take part in each year for the Flower City Arts Center. If you are interested in purchasing a calendar, you can do so on their etsy page.