On October 1, 2015, the ‘park’ in my backyard had its 125th anniversary. I’m also having a big birthday this year, which shall, for now, remain numberless. Part challenge, part celebration, part ‘I can STILL kick butt!’, I decided to honor us both by creating my own 12-prints-in-12-months commitment. Not just any old print, mind you. Major stuff, getting detailed and rather on the large side (For me, anyway!)! Each will feature a special bit of what I love about Yosemite; places, flora, fauna that speak to my heart. Enjoy, and if you can, we would both appreciate a visit if you are in the neighborhood!
Process of Success(ion) – Yosemite (June 2016, 24″ x 18″, linocut)
This print was carved while hearing news of more than a half dozen fires in California. I just have to close my eyes and remember how beautiful the lupine, rabbitbrush, mountain lilac and poppies were this Spring, especially in areas that saw fire. Anyone who lives in the Western US, knows about wildfire and how devastating it can be. Lately, I’ve been reading about the surprising benefits that fire brings; even an extreme event can rejuvenate a forest and actually increase biodiversity. There is hope and Foresta, an area that lies within the boundaries of the Park itself, is proof! The small community has seen three major fires in the last 20 years. It’s practically a study guide for Ecological Succession – the observed process of change in the species structure of an ecological community over time.
Dogwoods – Yosemite (May 2016, 24″ x 18″, linocut)
I love the Western Dogwoods of our Sierra Nevada and especially love them set against the splendor of Yosemite Valley’s meadows, granite faces and the fast flowing Merced River. Dogwoods are my most loved flowering tree and I eagerly look forward to their show each year. They are hard to time perfectly, so one must venture repeatedly to the Valley to insure seeing them at their peak! (Oh, how terrible! Ha!) Impossibly neat, tidy, perfect blossoms on mostly bare stems. This magical spring show is represented in this bold, macro style print, giving you a detailed look at the flower’s form!
Spring Runoff – Yosemite (April 2016, 24″ x 18″, linocut)
This print features the memorizing Yosemite Falls, as seen from along the Merced River at Sentinel Bridge. One of my favorite places to relax and contemplate in the Valley, I was able to spend 3 days working on this 24″ X 18″ linocut on the spot! Plein Aire Printmaking at its best! It’s bewildering how different each rock face appears completely different depending on time of day and weather; new every time! Spring runoff time is a magical moment in the lifecycle of this World Heritage site. This year, we had a fair snowpack, so the water was really moving and the roar of the Falls could be heard even that far away! And since this is an icon view, the bridge is a well-visited and loved spot, and very entertaining for people and wildlife watching! I happened to share my carving plot within 15 feet of a mule deer group, though they expressed little interest in the medium once it was clear it was not edible.
Black Oak – Yosemite (March 2016, 24″ x 18″, linocut)
This faintly Japanesque print is another departure from my usual style. This close-up representation of the iconic and beloved Black Oak that blankets the Valley floor uses a bold, white-line technique, which I’ve rarely used. I mixed up more ink than I’ve ever dared at one time – a giant, scary pool of it! I wasn’t sure it was really going to work until I pulled the first print… But work it does. Is it one of my favorite prints to date because I still mourn the loss of my own giant, twin Black Oak that went down in a snowstorm 5 years ago? Or, perhaps the graceful arching branches speak to me of cool, shaded afternoons on the banks of the Merced, where the gently playing leaves seem to brush away anxieties and replace them with soft sighs of contentment.
The Trickster – Yosemite (February 2016, 24″ x 18″, linocut)
Coyotes are socially complex, intelligent, opportunists who deserve more respect than they receive. These cleanup and vector control specialists are essential parts of the food web. Their adaptability brings them into contact with human population centers frequently, bringing these survivors under increasing attack. I find their beauty and tenacity alluring and love seeing them – from a distance. These wild creatures, who I hear nearly every night, have my admiration & respect. Here’s a link to a video showing how ‘The Trickster – Yosemite’ was made: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=92xDSXaKflg
Sequoiadendron gianteum – Yosemite (January 2016, 24″ x 18″, linocut)
The famous Mariposa Grove is closed for rejuvenation, so I visited the lesser known, but equally inspiring, Tuolumne Grove in Yosemite for my next muse gathering outing. Giant Sequoias never fail to induce awe; I hope I’ve captured some of their majesty. Please go visit if you can! Sequoiadendron giganteum is the scientific name for this living fossil. I almost called this one the Youthful Ancient , as it’s only a a baby in terms of age – older than the discovery of the Americas!
Swinging Bridge at Wawona – Yosemite (December 2015, 24″ x 18″, linocut)
A short walk from the Chilnualna Falls Trailhead along the not-so-famous South Fork of the Merced River, one can find the Swinging Bridge of Wawona. This bridge brings back Indiana Jones-like fantasies of adventure and daring – for a second anyway. It’s a lovely area to picnic and hang out. I’ve seen a Cooper’s Hawk land on its cables and an American Dipper swimming and bobbing along the waterways below it. It’s also a favorite swimming hole for Yosemite ‘insiders’! My California Naturalist course spent the day on and near this spot, engaging our senses, enriching our souls and learning to experience Nature through the lenses of both science and personal observation.
Elemental – Yosemite (November 2015, 24″ x 18″, linocut)
November’s print focuses on two essential elements of Yosemite’s landscape: Trees and Rocks. Often in the high country, wizened trees magically grow straight out of the domes and mountainsides in the seemingly endless granite-dominated vista. Each one is interesting and uniquely beautiful, characterizing strength and tenacity, acceptance and timelessness.
Half Dome from Glacier Point – Yosemite (October 2015, 24″ x 18″, linocut)
Glacier Point offers majestic views of the Valley’s East side and its surrounding wonders, including the Clark Range, Cloud’s Rest, the Valley floor,Yosemite Falls and, of course, Half Dome. One can get quite close to the edge of the South Rim and gain unobstructed vistas that take the breath away or give it back – depending on your state! This icon is the very face of Yosemite National Park and no series featuring the park would be complete without it.
Taft Point Fissures – Yosemite (September 2015, 24″ x 18″, linocut)
A short walk from Glacier Point Road is my favorite hidden gem in the Park, sporting the best views of the Valley and its surrounding wonders – Taft Point. One can get exceedingly close to the edge of the South Rim, an almost straight drop to the Valley below. Views of El Cap, Cathedral Rocks, Yosemite Falls, the Merced River, etc. are the reward for venturing just off the beaten path. This is the print that started it all; Number one in the series of 12.
More from 2015:
Field of Poppies (September 2015, 4.25″ x 5.75″, copperplate etching)
California poppies were one of the first flowers I cultivated in my ‘patch’ of garden at my childhood home. They have followed me throughout my moves and now I live in an area renowned for these iconic symbols of Spring, renewal and the rolling hills of California. Though I worked this etching up a couple of years ago, I only editioned a black & white for an exchange at the time. I knew that I wanted it in color at some point and here we are. I used the 2014 Sierra Art Trails to demo this, though I was not happy with the results. Oh, they were fine for demo purposes, but not what I wanted! In the end, the only way I was happy with the print was by adding a mask and using a relief method to ‘roll’ the ink over the flowers after using an a la poupée method to color the plate traditionally.
Lady Vanessa (September 2015, 4″ x 4″, linocut)
When I first moved to the Sierra, I wanted to clear out an oily, rangy looking bush that seemed unattractive to my citified sensibilities. Then, one day I realized that these bushes were attracting dozens of butterflies each! It turns out that Yerba Santa is a favorite of the butterfly, Vanessa Cardui or Painted Lady. The working title, though deemed too long, was Painted Lady on Sacred Herb. And so the Yerba Santa was saved with a renewed appreciation of the environment’s interconnectedness.
Robin’s Nest (Nest Series) (July 2015, 13″ x 11″, linocut)
I love the squawking & sharp chirps that Robin’s make! Their stalking, hunched low approach, then starchily upright stance as they eye the ground for worms! Great birds for avian antics. Their nest are equally impressive; so neat, circular & distinctive! Reference photo credit: Michelle Ahlstrom. (Another Limited Edition, single impression print, State II of the last impression of this edition has also been pulled.)
If you are interested in seeing how this one was made, I managed to put together this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SYpl6ek9dLk