In the Boston area, where I live, we've just survived the snowiest winter on record, with a total of 110.3 inches (so far). Several storms brought life to a halt, with officials advising us to stay home, and off the roads. The heavy snow piles up on rooftops, and as it begins to melt, ice dams form on the edges of roofs, causing water from the melting snow on the roof to seep into the houses, damaging ceilings and walls. One of the only ways to prevent this from happening is to get up there and shovel off the snow. 
This is my view of my neighbor's house; her son and a friend taking care of that chore. I was happy to watch them from my cozy spot indoors, cup of tea in hand, and found inspiration for a new white line print. The way the snow silhouetted their shapes and changed the landscape, the angles of the roofline, the contrast between white snow and black roof, and the theme of "man against nature" all contributed to my idea. Have you seen the white line print Blanche Lazzell made of her Provincetown studio in winter? Such effective use of white space!  Simple and beautiful.

Blanche's own words to describe the process are "Originality, Simplicity, Freedom of Expression, and above all, Sincerity, with a clean cut block, are characteristics of a good woodblock print." Thanks, Blanche, for inspiring so many of us.

I shifted the perspective a bit in my print, below, as I wanted to show things from a more precarious position, as if the viewer is up on the rooftop, too! And the Mom in me put some long pants and winter boots on the guy on the right; why do young men feel immune to the cold? Shorts and sneakers in February?! A bit of artistic license. 

What's outside your window? What inspires you?


Roof Shovelers :   11 7/8" x 11 7/8" , 2015
The Lamb, color woodcut   32.5" x 44.5"   2015

I'm a member of the Boston Printmakers, and recently, we were asked to submit proposals for works in response to prints in the collection of the Duxbury Art Complex Museum, in Duxbury, Massachusetts, for a show at that museum scheduled for the spring of 2015. From a list of 42 etchings, lithographs, drypoints and woodcuts I chose a tiny engraving, measuring a mere 1.5" x 3", created in 1828 by Edward Calvert, entitled The Sheep of His Pasture: 
Those sheep were so appealing! At first I was simply charmed by this idyllic pastoral scene, but I wanted to honor the original impulse of the artist, and enhance his theme of connection between god and nature. So, I searched for a poem or prayer that might illuminate the message, so that I could cut the words of it into the texture of a woodcut sheep's fleecy coat. A poet friend offered several sheep-related poems, both ancient and modern, and from that selection, I chose Songs of Innocence: The Lamb, by William Blake:

Little Lamb who made thee
     Dost thou know who made thee
Gave thee life & bid thee feed
By the stream & o'er the mead
Gave thee clothing of delight
Softest clothing, wooly bright;
Gave thee such a tender voice,
Making all the vales rejoice!
     Little Lamb who made thee
     Dost thou know who made thee

     Little Lamb I'll tell thee
     Little Lamb I'll tell thee
He is called by thy name,
For he calls himself a Lamb:
He is meek & he is mild,
He became a little child:
I a child & thou a lamb,
We are called by his name.
Little Lamb God bless thee.
Little Lamb God bless thee.

It wasn't until after I had fully cut the text into the sheep's fleece, when I had to find something to say for my artist's statement for the show, that I discovered that Calvert was one of only a few artists who were directly influenced by William Blake. In fact, his little engraving was created a year after Blake's death, as an act of homage. Stranger still, Calvert's print is a copy of one of William Blake's wood engravings, an illustration he created for Thornton's Virgil:

So, in a sense, things have come full circle! Coincidence? Or synchronicity?