Two Swedish Yule Goats

The third of my Scandinavian series of linoleum block prints is called Two Swedish Yule Goats. The Yule goat with its Germanic Pagan beginnings has always intrigued me. In Sweden the goats first origins of Pre-Christian lore to when the people worshiped the Norse God Thor. It is said Thor rode a chariot across the sky drawn by two goats named Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjóstr.

The history of the Yule Goat takes various twists and turns with various traditions interwoven in the Swedish culture. Most often you can find woven straw goats adorned with a red ribbon as ornaments, illustrations of St. Nicholas riding a goat or giant erected goat placed in town centers for the Christmas holiday.

Linoleum block print of two Swedish Yule Goats, snowflake and leaves..
Linoleum block print of two Swedish Yule Goats.

Like the other Scandinavian holiday printmaking projects found on this blog, I’ve found wonderful ways to create Christmas products to share. Visit my Lasgalen Arts Christmas category in my Zazzle store.

 

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Mountain Sheep Dreaming

Mountain Sheep Dreaming is a simple designed drawing using a fine point sharpie on white paper. I’m often inspired by my dreams and surely my new personal studies into shamanism had something to do with Mountain Sheep Dreaming. The black and white sketch shows a ram’s head face on. You can see his large curved horns to either side of his head. On his brow is my power animal the bear. Entwined down his face is a vine with leaves. I think the most striking aspect of his face are the two elongated triangles down his nose. Inside these triangles are circle.

Simple line drawing of a mountain sheep's head.
Simple line drawing of a mountain sheep’s head.

So what does it all mean? Well being curious of what my dreams are trying to say to me I’ve looked into the ram and his meaning. In a nutshell he signifies new beginnings. Taking a journey to the Upper World last week I was told to pursue my fine arts goals. Since then my urge to create with my hands has become stronger. I’m seeking out more education and visiting more exhibits too.

Follow your passions. That is the lesson I have to learn in this lifetime. I’m so glad you’ve joined me on the journey.

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October

Inspirational October is full of promise with the colors, smells and feeling in the air. I search for inspiration in nature as do so many other artists and writers. One particular pairing I’ve wanted to do is Autumn and the American poet Robert Frost (1874 – 1963). Robert Frost’s words from his poem October and my own surroundings outside my window gave me the spark to create this mixed media piece.

October - mixed media
Mixed media piece October. An homage to a poem by Robert Frost of the same name.

October is a mixed media piece using acrylic paints, Sharpie pen, torn paper and construction paper. The bright red, orange and gold background is reminiscent of Autumns colors. A black crow flies from a bare tree. On the bottom of the piece are two leaves fallen over a paper that includes a piece of the Robert Frost poem October which you will find directly below. I hope you enjoy the Autumn season and appreciate change.

O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
To-morrow’s wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
To-morrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow,
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know;
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away;
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
Slow, slow!
For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost—
For the grapes’ sake along the wall.

If you enjoy this mixed media piece I have created blank greeting cards to sell in my Lasgalen Arts store on Zazzle.com.

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Inspiration From The Hobbit

The Hobbit

One of my favorite writers is J.R.R. Tolkien. Several years ago I had felt inspiration from The Hobbit. I decided to create a print project using parts of the story for mono prints. Tolkien writes such full stories with in depth characters and a huge back story. An artist (and there are many) could spend their whole career just capturing Middle-earth with paint, ink and wood.

The Story

There is not enough space here to retell the story of The Hobbit. For those who are unaware of the story line here is a link to the Wikipedia page for The Hobbit. These blocks are some of the first mono print works I created back in the day.

Beorn The Skin Changer

For those of you unaware of the character Beorn is a “skin-changer” and by night he turns into a large bear. By day he is a bearded man of large stature. Beor lives on bread and honey and his home is surrounded by conical bee hives made of straw.

A lino block and print of Beorn
The print includes a round bee hive with fat little bees and a flower on the left. On the right side of the print includes Beorn’s face with half of a man and the other half a bear.
A print of a bee hive and Beorn

Dark Forest, White Spirit

Huine Taurë Ninque Sulë is another Hobbit themed piece. The title translates to Dark Forest, White Spirit in the Elven language Quenya. In the story of The Hobbit the 13 dwarves and Bilbo Baggins are forced to travel into Mirkwood Forrest. It is deep and very dark and the company can barely see their way along a path.

During their trek through the enchanted forest they are rushed upon by a white hart. Startled, the company frantically tries to get out of the way and only Thorin is able to shoot an arrow at the hart. They are starved and sadly though the arrow hit its mark, they loose the beast in the dark wood.

The dark wood of Mirkwood is conveyed with a dark tree trunk lined print. Super imposed the ghostly white hart (I had used a second block for the hart) almost blends into the trees.A print of Mirkwood Forrest and the Hart

Barrels Full of Dwarves

Barrels Full of Dwarves was another mono print with inspiration from The Hobbit. Quickly to give an explanation the barrels are full of Dwarves escaping (with the help of Bilbo Baggins and his magic ring) from the Elven King’s domain of Mirkwood. Their escape down the river in empty apple barrels is indeed harrowing for the dwarves. Bilbo can be seen in the water among the barrels.
A print of barrels in a river and Bilbo Baggins

The Dragon and the Thrush

A little back story may be necessary for you to understand the design. The dragon Smaug (pronounced smowg) dwells inside the Lonely Mountain guarding his hoard of treasure. The 13 dwarves and little Bilbo Baggins are attempting to take back the treasure which really belong to Thorin Oakenshield the leader of the company. Bilbo manages to get down into the mountain and with his magic ring to conceal himself he taunts the dragon with conversation. Smaug is no dummy and assumes Bilbo is one of the men from a nearby town located in the middle of a lake called “Laketown”.

Smaug decides he has had enough of talking with Bilbo and attacks Laketown one evening. The villagers are armed with arrows and a great battle ensues. One man, Bard is their Captain. He is steadfast and brave and encourages the men to stand their ground though their town is literally burning down around them.

During the battle an old thrush lands upon Bard’s shoulder and talks to him. Bard is surprised he can understand the bird but listens to his messages.

“Wait! Wait!” it said to him. “The moon is rising. Look for the hollow of the left breast as he flies and turns above you!”

Bard takes his trusted infamous black arrow, the same arrow that belonged to his forefathers, and smote Smaug with great flourish and steam. Of course the story is more exciting if you read the words of the author but you will now understand the design of this block.A print of Smaug and thrush
The story has so much more to it that my print ideas are many. It has been some time since I worked on this series but seeing them together I may find more inspiration from The Hobbit.

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The Black Crow A Personal Challenge

The Hurdle

This next printmaking project, Black Crow has taken me quite some time to fathom. I’ve often been confused by the reduction method of printmaking. For quite some time I couldn’t wrap my head around the process. How could one cut away sections of a block without jeopardizing the image as a whole? What portions of the design should you cut first? I know I’m not a dense person, however it was driving me mad for some time before I had an “aha” moment.

The Reduction Process

For those unaware of what the reduction method of printmaking is I’ll try and explain this to you. Starting with a linoleum or wood block you draw out your design on the block. At that point you have to know what colors you’d like to have on each element of the design. For the Black Crow I had decided to have white clouds, therefor the only color needed was the background of blue for the sky. As you see in the photo below I cut out the clouds which would remain white after adding blue ink to create the print.

The first of a block reduction for Black Crow
The second layer was the design of the crow. I then cut away all the block until I had only the crow to print in black. The trick is to line up the block directly over the first printing. This is easily achieved by marking the block on the paper to re-aline for the next ink print.

The second reduction cut for the Black Crow

Black Crow A Personal Challenge

Thinking about this process I’ve learned that for the most part, starting with the lighter color of the design first may be wise. Having more than three colors could become problematic. Adding additional color would certainly darken the background colors already laid down making it difficult to add a lighter portion of the design.

I’m already thinking of the next project where I’ll attempt three colors. My head my explode by the time I’m finished. I’ll share with you the outcome of my folly.

Print of reduction cut of the Black Crow

I’ve created an card with personalized inspirational message to share with you for when you would like to send encouragement to a loved one.

 

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Picasso’s Dachshund

The continuing fascination with Picasso and his animals all started last month. If you are a regular reader of this blog you’ll remember Picasso’s Cat. After showing Picasso’s Cat to the artist friend who started this whole adventure he pulled up another challenge for me. Who knew Picasso had a dog? I guess I was just unaware of the love Pablo Picasso had for his animals.

Picasso’s Dachshund

painting of a dachshund
The dachshund has a funny shape and certainly lends itself to be parodied. My intention to make him blocks of many colors never came to fruition. I guess I’m not that brave though I think I need to take more risks and just do the unconventional. Instead of cubism I think this painting is more primitive than anything else. As a friend pointed out I seem to be leaning towards the “chunky” style.

Picasso’s Real Dachshund

Photograph of Picasso holding a dachshund
I think my appointed Picasso’s dog needs a name. His name will be Maurice. The tote bag below is just one of the fun quality products on the Lasgalen Arts Redbubble store.

Folk painting of a dachshund in front of his dog dish with a white bone inside.
My Picasso’s Dachshund painting found on tote bags on Redbubble

 

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Full Moon In December

The full moon in December is aptly named the Cold Moon. Signifying the seasons lengthening winter nights many Native American nations called the full moon in December the Long Nights Moon. I’ve always loved waking on a winter’s night to see the shadows a full moon plays on the snow. It’s as if a spotlight shown on the wilderness normally darken to us most during night.

In began as a pencil sketch

This painting was sketched prior to using paint. The initial drawing below shows the first conceptual art I created prior to the full moon in December. The snow was had only arrived as wisps of flakes from the sky when pencil met paper. Cold gripped New England a few days before the real snow fell and by then I had decided to pursue the painting. That night was the full moon in December.A pencil sketch of bare trees, the moon and a deer

Moonlight on snow

That very evening I woke after midnight and stole out of the bed to look out the window. It was a cloudless night and the cold moon was so very bright. There were no features on the moon, no man in the moon lay on the lunar surface. A magical white opaque halo spun around the moon like gauze. The sky was navy blue and black, infinite with twinkling stars that appear as diamonds.

Snow isn’t white in the night but seems to take on the colors of the night sky. Tinted with navy blue and gray you can see where dips and valleys lay on the snow. The surface of cold crystals was unbroken by footfalls.

The trees dark, bare and tall threw their shadows in bumpy lines towards the house. At the base of the trunks white hair lip snow piles had formed by the winter breeze. It was the finest half hour I’ve spent in some time. In the quiet of the house, I took mental note of the colors, textures and feeling for painting Moonlight on Snow.

painting of a full moon in winter with bare trees and a deer.

Of course the deer was in my imagination though I know something, a mammal or owl, was out there enjoying the full moon in December.

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Picasso’s Cat

Inspiration for Picasso’s Cat

Every Saturday the artist Fernando Guel posts images on his Facebook page pictures of cats. One such day he posted a black and white image of Picasso holding his tabby cat. In a flash I got to thinking about Picasso’s cat and what he would look like. My brain went even further and wondered if his cat saw the world as Picasso did? Was the cat’s milk bowl made up of geometric shapes other than a circles? To say the least, my brain nearly exploded thinking about these things.

What happened?

I dreamt of Picasso’s Cat in detail. What I saw in those dreams were not what I expected. Instead of seeing a cat made up of triangles and squares, I saw a blue cat shaped a bit comically with a heavy bottom. He was solid blue with eyes that were not symmetrical and crooked whiskers. The light blue vase and two red poppies next to him looked fairly normal too. But the wall behind him was made of a patchwork of red, yellow and orange hues. The four window panes on the wall were also skewed but were light blue as a summer’s day.Picasso's Cat

What’s next

I’ve named the cat a nice masculine name. Claude was inspiration enough to start work on another piece. I’m thinking Picasso needs a dog or maybe a chicken. Doesn’t this man look like he needs more animals?the artist Pablo Picasso holding a cat

Blue cat painting shown on acrylic blocks
My Picasso’s Blue Cat painting found in Redbubble.

Visit Lasgalen Arts on Redbubble to find Picasso’s Blue Cat on acrylic blocks as shown above and on other quality products.

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Cat in the Window

Cat in the window

The cat in the window is very happy. Kitty sits on a window ledge in front of a frosty window. The ice looks like stars on a glass. This mono print in light blue was made from a carved linoleum block. I can envision the cat in the window is sitting in a room warmed by a wood stove. As the snow is falling heavily from the sky, the world is quiet and peaceful.

Process

Generally I draw out the design on the lino block before starting to carve however, this time I went with my imagination to guide knife. There was another challenge I had to overcome. I wasn’t sitting a cozy room with a wood stove but my less than warm studio.

I’m not a vain person, just one that washes the hair in the morning and goes. I do own a hair dryer but not for drying my hair. I use a hair dryer to warm up those hard grey lino blocks. Though the linoleum becomes softer, they are not as soft as the pink sheets available. I could at least get by without cramping my hands from the resistance of knife on block.

The results

blue cat linocut

The delft blue color makes the cat pop from the window. I really like how Cat in the Window came together when printed. It is fun to carve a block now and again and take a break from the paint.

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Cat in the Window

Cat in the window

The cat in the window is very happy. Kitty sits on a window ledge in front of a frosty window. The ice looks like stars on a glass. This mono print in light blue was made from a carved linoleum block. I can envision the cat in the window is sitting in a room warmed by a wood stove. As the snow is falling heavily from the sky, the world is quiet and peaceful.

Process

Generally I draw out the design on the lino block before starting to carve however, this time I went with my imagination to guide knife. There was another challenge I had to overcome. I wasn’t sitting a cozy room with a wood stove but my less than warm studio.

I’m not a vain person, just one that washes the hair in the morning and goes. I do own a hair dryer but not for drying my hair. I use a hair dryer to warm up those hard grey lino blocks. Though the linoleum becomes softer, they are not as soft as the pink sheets available. I could at least get by without cramping my hands from the resistance of knife on block.

The results

blue cat linocut

The delft blue color makes the cat pop from the window. I really like how Cat in the Window came together when printed. It is fun to carve a block now and again and take a break from the paint.

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