Fellowship of Dawn

Everyone has their favorite time of the day.  I am a morning person.  I love the dawn and the sunrise and the sound of birds waking up to the new day.
There is nothing I like better than camping and waking up to a cool, crisp dawn.  Make some coffee on the fire, quietly listen as everything in nature wakes.  Walk to the water’s edge….hear the waves lapping against the shore before you can even see it.
Then – that magical moment of dawn when the clouds start to brighten.  The indigo of night, inch by inch, changes to greys before the riot of pinks, purples and oranges of sunrise.  It is a moment of fellowship with nature and with God and with life.


Living in the 'flatlands' of mid-Michigan, surrounded by wheat and corn fields, it is not unusual to see big trees.  But they are usually second or third generation, standing alone in someones yard or a park.  Michigan was pretty well clear cut from shore to shore and top to bottom back in the 1800's.  Conservation practices were unknown.  Man ruled and nature and all it's bounty was there for the taking and for our every use.
The opportunity for me to see virgin stands of the last giant trees in Michigan came while I was Artist in Residence at Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park.  Hiking the Government Peak Trail, Lake Superior Trail and Big Carp River Trail left me in awe of what Michigan must have looked like. 
Huge, majestic, beings that grew for centuries in the storms and winds of Lake Superior.  They strengthened their bones against the onslaught by growing roots into the rocks of the escarpment, wrapping around and through them.  
They grew slowly and with purpose up to the light of the sky and 
a beam of light from the sun.

The trees were deemed too difficult to get to and fell back in the day and so were left.  Today, without the protection of the Park, all kinds of machinery would be moved in and fell them with no problem.

What troubles me is how big business and government love to worm around the protection placed on our public lands.  Lands that WE, the taxpayers own!  The moves recently to go under these lands, searching for oil, gas, minerals.  They put forth the argument that they are not disturbing the Park - we can still hike the trails and enjoy the wildlife and views above ground.  And look at all the jobs they will create!  Goodness!  We should all embrace their compassion for us!
Yet they maim the land gaining access and then poison the groundwaters that flow into the streams, rivers and the largest source of fresh water on earth!  They don't think about the consequences to the next generations that can never repair their damage.

We need to stand tall, like these giant trees.  Grow deep strong roots.  Hold on tight against the winds that conspire to fell us.  We need to reach with everything we have toward the sun and harness the energy given by it instead of digging into the deep places where what we do is hidden from the light.

We need to Beam.

The Art of Sleeping Bear Dunes

Art of the Sleeping Bear Dunes: A Fine Art Publication and Exhibition

Artists have been drawn to the beauty and ever-changing landscape of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore for years.  Leelanau Press, a non-profit publisher whose mission is to publish work of regional writers and artists, in conjunction with the Dennos Museum Center at Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City, Michigan, invited artists to submit work in a juried fine art competition with the promise of the publication of a color, large format, hardcover book and an exhibition at the Dennos Museum Center in October 2013 - January 2014. 

I am honored to find that 'Glow' was accepted into this exhibition.

Tokyo Exhibition 1/18-1.31

Please enjoy the photos of the Exhibition of the Six - 2012 Mokuhanga Innovative Residents.
Wish I could have been there for this exhibition.  There were over 120 attendees.
The exhibit now moves to Kawaguchi, location of the Residency, for the local community to enjoy and find out more about the program.

Paths We Travel

I find it so interesting the paths we travel.  It was never even in my thoughts that at some point in my life I would travel to Japan and live at Mt. Fuji.  Never!

So imagine my surprise when I was recently moving and found this watercolor painting I did when I was 16 years old.

And then compare with my recent woodblock print from my Residency at Mt. Fuji this fall.

Washi (Paper) Testing

I think one of the hardest things for a mokuhanga artist is finding the right paper.  Especially Japanese paper.  There are so many different weights, sizes, paper makers.  And we all like different characteristics in a paper.  I personally don't like a white white paper and prefer more natural color.  I also like a thicker paper.

The opportunity to test different papers while at MI-Lab was something we all wanted to do.  We didn't realize how difficult it would be to get at Kawaguchi-ko.  If there were suppliers there, or even any art suppliers there, we never found them.  Everything came from either Tokyo or somewhere else.  And that all takes time.  Given that knowledge before hand I know we would have purchased paper in Tokyo to take with us to Kawaguchi-ko.

As someone used to the western "fast-food-get-it-now" culture it was hard to wait. Frustrating!  But we finally got paper from different sources and were able to test them.

Below are 4 prints all on different papers - 3 handmade Japanese and one machine made Korean.
  You can see how they each reacted differently to the same process.  The bottom right is "my" usual paper, Kihada.  It took the brown very deeply but not the blue or red.  The one above it is a Korean machine made paper that is absolutely dead.  There is no texture and the colors all are very flat.  The other two are from Kochi. The top one is a natural, almost brown paper and the bottom one is white.  Quite a difference!

These were just 4 of the papers.  We tested many more and most of us brought several of our favorites home to play with some more. 

Artist in Residence - Mt. Fuji

Earlier this summer I found out I had been chosen to be one of 6 international artists in residence at
Mokuhanga Innovation Laboratory at Mt. Fuji, Japan for 5 weeks - October 7 - November 10, 2012.  The others were Tomasz Kawalczyk, Poland; Eva Pietzcker, Germany; Mara Cozzolino, Italy; Paul Furneaux, Scotland and Yoonmi Nam, Korea/USA.

We stayed in Tokyo for 5 days and had an exhibition in Tokyo at CfSHE Gallery for 10 days. 
This is the poster of the exhibition.

Setting up the exhibition under the watchful eye of Program Director, Keiko Kadota.

Photo: 私たち夫婦の友人の木版画家のリンダさんが、「木版画制作プログラム 河口湖アーティスト・イン・レジデンス」に参加するため、来日したので、交流会、展覧会が行われた東京へ会いに行きました。

I was fortunate to have friends in Japan that were able to attend the opening reception.  Pictured with me and my prints are Ann Larabee from Lansing, MI, who is teaching in Tokyo; Tomoko Hirao and Takayuki Fukuyama from Shiga; and not pictured, the photographer of this picture, Phil Ono.

After being in Tokyo for 5 days we moved to the residence location at Fujikawaguchi-ko.  More about this in the next post.