Darker Skies

Part II

Birch (4-23-2020)

"I had already spotted the tree I would use, a California Redwood with a very expressive trunk. But at night, I kept seeing a frail white tree, a birch with its bark still immaculate. In the darkness of the storm, its fate would be more poignant, with its leaning trunk highlighted in gouache. I worry about my layout. Will its slender shape disappear, be overwhelmed? But then, I stop: is this not the very object of my piece?"

Herlinde Spahr, Notebooks

Jacob’s Ladder (5-7-2020)

”I finished the second panel. What a climb! It begins with a lot of carpentry: shaping the Formica with the router, attaching a plank of redwood for the fasteners, three coats of varnish to keep out the moisture, acrylic to seal the edges. And then weeks, days, hours trying to create in front of me what I have seen in the darkness of the night. ... I place the panel on sawhorses as if it were a bier with a corpse that I must resuscitate. The scars from the levigator don’t appear until they trap ink in the grooves as if it were an engraving. ... It is a race against time, for the ink will dry and resist change.

Artists are like those angels going up and down on Jacob’s ladder. They must be grounded in the blackness of the material world and yet, reach high into the thinnest aether, wiping away wisps of ink to create the illusion of a luminous cloud.

You can’t make it into heaven unless your hands are covered with ink.”

Herlinde Spahr, Notebooks

Darker Skies Part II. Detail


The second of three panels

Date: May 12 - May 31, 2020

Size: 60” x 30”

Media: Lithographic ink, litho tusche, lithographic pencil, oil paint, graphite, gouache, stencils, fingerprinting, erasers on Formica panel.

The scarred background is created with the lithographic levigator and carborundum grit. The lacerations get inked in the manner of intaglio