Friday, March 23, 2018

Valerie Willson, QMP 25

Max Beckmann wrote "Art is creative for the sake of realization, not for amusement: for transfiguration, not for the sake of play. It is the quest of our self that drives us along the eternal and never-ending journey we must all make." 

Valerie Willson's quest brought her and a very large etching bed press to Vashon Island in 1993 where she founded Quartermaster Press and has shared her excitement for print process ever since.  Her journey has also led her to explore other media as well, including: pastel, paint, en caustic and most recently photography.

For the Quartermaster Press 25 year retrospective exhibit at Vashon Center for the Arts Koch Gallery,  April 6 - May 25, Valerie Willson has chosen to display etchings created in the period that the press itself was made and when she was exploring everything that multiple copper plate etching might yield.  This is Nasturtiums a three copperplate etching with Intaglio and aquatint, 19 3/4 x 14 3/4 in.

Nasturtiums, copper plate etching by Valerie Willson 

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Quartermaster Press 1993

QMP, Quartermaster Press, was founded in 1993 when artist Valerie Willson moved to Vashon Island, Washington with a very large etching bed press.  The press was new.  Valerie had commissioned Ray Trayle to build it two years before when her second story studio in the Pearl District of Portland, Oregon could easily accommodate it and two other presses.

Valerie's new, smaller, Vashon Island studio could not accommodate the press and so she and a handful of Vashon Island artists came together to form Quartermaster Press.  The new cooperative shared a press, studio, ideas and friendship.

Twenty five years later those foundational ideals are still common denominators of Quartermaster Press.  Below is a 1995 publicity photo of QMP artists Jill Stenn, Valerie Willson, Sue Grant, Bonnie Wilkins and Ilse Reimnitz.  Valerie Willson has been the constant in this artistic equation.  Thank you Valerie for your dedication and contributions to the exploration of print process.  You are one of my personal Heroes!

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Monotype Print Workshop

My good friend and fellow printer Ilse Reimnitz and I shared our print passion with 9 students this past weeknd.  Most of them were new friends and new to monotype print.  Ilse introduced me to monotype 20 years ago.  It continues to be my inky hands-down favorite way to make imagery! 

Monday, March 19, 2018

Quartermaster Press 25

The 25th Quartermaster Press Anniversary Retrospective Exhibition will show at Vashon Center for the Arts, Koch Gallery, 19600 Vashon highway SW, Vashon WA April 6 - May 25.  Opening April 6 at 5:30 p.m. with an introductory talk by Valerie Willson.  Featured- Print demos, QMP history, talks about Print Techniques, Print Tradition & Transformation, and a Collectors Conversation are all part of this special show highlighting print art created by 31 past and present Quartermaster Press print artists.
Pat Churchill and I are co-curating this show.  Deborah Taylor has created dynamic promotional invitations, posters and banners from the artists work featured in this exhibition.

See details, dates below and please visit the VCA, Koch gallery website for more information-

Friday, January 12, 2018

The Goddess of Forgetting

Lethe, Monotype Print, 24kt gold leaf, 36 x 15 in.

Come to my arms, cruel and sullen thing;
Indolent beast, come to my arms again,
For I would plunge my fingers in your mane
And be a long time unremembering —

And bury myself in you, and breathe your wild
Perfume remorselessly for one more hour:
And breathe again, as of a ruined flower,
The fragrance of the love you have defiled.

I long to sleep; I think that from a stark
Slumber like death I could awake the same
As I was once, and lavish without shame
Caresses upon your body, glowing and dark.

To drown my sorrow there is no abyss,
However deep, that can compare with your bed.
Forgetfulness has made its country your red
Mouth, and the flowing of Lethe is in your kiss.

My doom, henceforward, is my sole desire:
As martyrs, being demented in their zeal,
Shake with delightful spasms upon the wheel,
Implore the whip, or puff upon the fire,

So I implore you, fervently resigned!
Come; I would drink nepenthe and long rest
At the sweet points of this entrancing breast
Wherein no heart has ever been confined.

Charles Baudelaire ~ Flowers of Evil,  translation by George Dillon, (NY: Harper and Brothers, 1936)

Friday, December 8, 2017

Cygnus at Vashon's Holiday Art Studio Tour

"Cygnus"  Monotype Print

Cygnus is among the most recognizable and brightest constellations in the Northern sky from June to December.  Look up. Of course those are heavenly wings spread; a beak and tail!  Yes, I see a swan!

According to Ovid, Cygnus was a close friend, maybe lover, of Phaethon.  Phaethon died (by his grandfather Zeus’s lightening bolt) when he recklessly scorched the earth while driving the family’s (Sun) chariot. Poor Cygnus’s grief for his beloved transformed him into a swan fearful of fire from heaven and so he chose to live in damp marshes, lakes and rivers.
“As he mourned, his voice became thin and shrill, and white feathers hid his hair. His neck grew long, stretching out from his breast, his fingers reddened and a membrane joined them together. Wings clothed his sides, and a blunt beak fastened on his mouth. Cygnus became a new kind of bird: but he put no trust in the skies, or in Zeus, for he remembered how that god had unjustly hurled his flaming bolt.
Instead, Cygnus looked for marshes and broad lakes, and in his hatred of flames chose to inhabit the river that would quench fire. Ovid, Metamorphoses II.

 “Cygnus” represents transformation, a change in form that embodies what shapes us and becoming who we are meant to be.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Masters in Miniature

 VCA's Koch Gallery presents: The 11th Annual Masters in Miniature Exhibition  

Small works of art encourage us to get up close and personal with the piece. Once we are drawn in we are often surprised by the unexpected. That's one of the inspirations behind the Vashon Center for the Arts Koch Gallery 11th Annual Miniature Exhibition.   

Below is "Morning" (6x6 in.)  One of several images I have in this show Show. The exhibition showcase works by over 30 Island artists. On view December 1-22, 2017 

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Sacred Circles

"Isfahan" Ltd Edition Giclee Print 6.5 x 6.5 in.

Sacred Circles

The circle is said to represent wholeness, softness, completion, inclusion, the life cycle, heaven-hell and eternity. That’s a lot to embody for a seemingly simple shape!

Circles are sacred symbols for a reason.  Circles are a natural, physical phenomena that best describe our round planet circling the light of a round, life-giving sun.  Earth’s cycle, as circle, occurs over, over and again in the myriad planet, star, relationships of our expanding universe. 

Scientists who look at the spiral building blocks of nature, our DNA, find stacked interlocking circles. From the whorls of our fingertips, the irises of our eyes, to our cells and the egg that gave each of us life, we are manifestations of the circle.

My images about circle reflect the symbolic nature of circle.  Their names reference the sacred sites, temples, cathedrals that more often than not were built and built again upon already sacred sites.

Check out Isfahan in my studio, stop #5, on the 2017 Vashon Island Holiday Studio Tour, December 2-3 & 9-10 (Saturdays and Sundays) 10am to 4pm.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Hades and Persephone "Hades Takes a Wife"

"Hades Takes A Wife"  Rust print on vintage linen over panel, 36 x 28 in.

"Hades Takes A Wife" depicts the abduction of Persephone by Hades; the first act in the Greek foundation myth explaining the cycles of nature and symbolizing the cycle of life and rebirth.

Hades ruled the Underworld alone and desired a Queen to rule with him.  He fell in love with Persephone but knew Persephone’s mother Demeter, goddess of harvest and fertility, would never consent to his proposal.  So, Hades appealed to a higher power, his brother Zeus (Persephone’s Father) who agreed to the union but foresaw Demeter’s objections. Together they decided Hades would steal Persephone from her mother.

One day while Persephone picked meadow flowers a cavern opened at her feet and Hades took her down, down to his Underworld Kingdom.  Demeter frantically searched the world for her lost daughter but of course she was no longer of the world.  Eventually she discovered what had really happened but refused to accept Persephone’s fate.  Enraged she roamed the earth in mortal guise, forbidding trees to bear fruit or fields to yield grain.

Zeus realized that if he allowed Demeter to persist, all of humankind would starve so he summoned Persephone back from the Underworld.  Hades appeared to acquiesce but insured Persephone’s return to him by giving her seeds from a pomegranate to eat.  Anyone who tastes the food of Hades must remain in the Underworld and since she had eaten the seeds, Persephone had to dwell at least part of every year with Hades.

Each Winter when Persephone is in the Underworld, Demeter mourns and the earth lies fallow and unproductive. Each Spring when Persephone returns to her mother, Demeter rejoices and the earth flowers and is fertile once again. 

Persephone’s descent to and return from the Underworld could also represent a vision of eternal life and triumph over death; symbolic of transformation and the cyclical nature of life. One's existence did not end with death because there was no death; there was only change from one state of being to another.

Please check out "Hades Takes A Wife" in my studio, stop #5, on the  2017 Vashon Island Holiday Studio Tour, December 2-3 & 9-10 (Saturdays and Sundays) 10am to 4pm.

Friday, November 24, 2017

The Temple of Forgetting

"The Temple of Forgetting" Rust Print on linen over panel, 41 x 33 in.

Lethe’s Temple, "The Temple of Forgetting", has its foundations in a river.  In early Greek myth, Lethe was one of five rivers that flowed through the subterranean Kingdom of Hades. 

Souls who passed into Hades had need to forget the suffering they had endured, or perhaps, the torment they had inflicted.  So, if a soul were ever to achieve peace, the dead would drink from its water in order to forget their earthly life and the river Lethe would wash away the memory of physical reality.

Myths evolve and Lethe the river was eventually personified as Goddess.  Lethe the Goddess became synonymous with forgetting.  Lethe is the root word of lethargy meaning weariness, lassitude, and fatigue.

Please view “The Temple of Lethe”, a Rust Print Assemblage, at my studio, stop #5, on the  2017 Vashon Island Holiday Studio Tour, December 2-3 & 9-10 (Saturdays and Sundays) 10am to 4pm.


Many Greek and Roman myths tell of the twin brothers Castor and Pollux. They are known as the Dioscuri in Greek and as Gemini or Castores in Latin. The brothers shared Jason’s quest for the Golden Fleece in the Argonautica and they’re the familial heroes when Theseus and Pirithous abducted their sister Helen.

Though their mother was Leda, Castor was the mortal son of Tyndareus, King of Sparta, and Pollux was the divine son of Zeus who had seduced Leda in the guise of a swan. They are sometimes said to have been born from an egg or eggs, along with their twin sisters Helen of Troy and Clytemnestra.

Castor was killed in a family feud after he and Pollux fell in love with and abducted Phoebe and Hilaeira, consorts of their cousins Lynceus and Idas.  Pollux asked his father Zeus to let him share his own immortality with his twin to keep them together and they were transformed into the constellation Gemini. 

Sharing also meant they had to spend equal time in the underworld.  This division between Heaven and Hades is probably an explanation of the night sky of the Greco-Roman world where the constellation known as Gemini is visible for only six months of the year
The Gemini are regarded as the patrons of sailors, to whom they appeared as St. Elmo's fire in ship masts during storms.  They are often associated with horsemanship and because they were known for their fellowship and adventures, they were are also the protectors of guests and travelers.

Please check out my monotype “Gemini” December 2-3 & 9-10 (Saturdays and Sundays) 10am to 4pm, stop # 5 on the Holiday 2017 Vashon Art Studio Tour.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Eve Modeling Ready to Wear, "The Garden Collection"

"Every myth has a mother, some more stylish than others... 
Hebraic myth doth suggest that Eve dressed better than the rest."

Welcome to the runway!  The first two weekends in December, 2-3 & 9-10, Goddess Eve will be modeling Ready to Wear, "The Garden Collection"!

Step Out, Step Up, YOU CAN SEE THE SHOW!  Stop #5, Brian Fisher Studio, when Vashon Island Artists throw open doors, windows, yards and yardarms in welcome during the Vashon Island Art Holiday Studio Tour!!