Thursday, December 16, 2010

Small Works at Roby King

Lost, Monotype 6 x 6 in.

I have five Monotypes at the Roby King Gallery on Bainbridge Island during the month of December.  
Roby King mounts an annual small works show each year and I was invited to exhibit in the 2010 Small Works Exhibition.  
Above and Below are two of the Monotypes for sale and currently on display.

Halcyone, Monotype, 6 x 6 in.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Masters in Miniature

 Parthenope, Monotype, 6x 6 in.

The last weekend, Dec. 12-13,  of the 2010 Vashon Island Holiday Studio Tour is coming up.  There is lots of wonderful art by Vashon Island artists to see and buy.  My studio is #12 on the map.  Please stop in to take a look at my print, paint and assemblage work and all the glass, dyed fabric and toys that Laughing Magpies and Tiffany Huslig have created to show and sell.

A great place to start your tour  this weekend is the Blue Heron Gallery’s year end finale Masters in Miniature.

The exhibition showcases art by 43 Vashon artists in mediums that include: painting, pottery, wood, glass, tile, sculpture, printmaking, fiber, photography and mixed media.  No work is larger than 7 x 7 in.  This annual exhibition, curated by Gallery Curator Janice Mallman and artist Carol Schwennesen,  is exceptional and should not be missed.

Posted here are two of the Monotypes I made for The Blue Heron Gallery’s Masters in Miniature exhibition.

Tauromachy, Monotype , 6 x 6 in.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Bookended by Art

Siren's Song, Monotype, 12 5/8 x 10 1/2 in.

Art at Studio Bookcase

 Walls of art bookend my studio bookcase during the 2010 Vashon Island Holiday Open Studio Tour.  Three more images of my monotype print work featured there are posted here for closer inspection.

Athena Nike, Monotype, 5 1/2 x 5 1/2 in.

Island Orchard, Monotype, 20 1/2 x 27 1/2 in.

Art Descending a Staircase

Art at Staircase

Here is another shot of my artwork as displayed for the 2010 Vashon Island Holiday Open Studio Tour with details of a print and painting featured at the staircase.

Theseus and the Minotaur, Monotype, 14 1/4 x 22 3/4 in.

Taming Bucephalus, Oil on canvas, 20 x 20 in.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Open Studio

Art and Hearth

In the next couple days I will be posting several images of my work as it is displayed for the 2010 Vashon Island Art Studio Tour.  Above is a shot of the hearth and posted below are images of two Monotype prints featured there.

Battle of the Centaurs, Monotype (1/1), 14 1/8 x 35 1/2 in

A Thousand Ships, Monotype, 14 3/4 x 11 in.

They Who Go Down to the Sea in Ships

Invictus, Monotype, 15 1/4 x 22 in.

Although my surname might conjure a heritage comfortable at sea, I have had little experience with boats or for that matter large bodies of water until moving to an island in the Pacific Northwest. 

My friendship with families who fish professionally and the stories I have heard them tell have however engaged my imagination and sincere appreciation of what ingenuity, fortitude and mind over matter it must surely take to make a living from a boat afloat at sea. 

I find the concept frightening.  Much of my fear though is not about the hard work or uncertainty of nature but the dependency upon ones shipmates, their strengths, weaknesses and the emotional baggage all of us are born to and carry in our personal odysseys. 

Several Monotypes I have made for the 2010 Vashon Island Art Studio Tour illustrate my reflections upon all of the above and are presented within the context of Odysseus’s misadventures and long voyage home to his beloved wife, Penelope and island kingdom, Ithaca. 

Two of those Monotypes, Invictus I and Invictus II, are named for and reference the last lines of William Ernest Henley’s poem, Invictus.   

“It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul”.

The Latin translation of invictus is “the undefeated” and though Henley’s words are a wonderful declaration of responsibility and self realization my imagery also reflects the reality that each of us are dependent upon our friends, family, and shipmates even in our personal odysseys.  I may be the master of my fate and captain of my soul but we are, each, all, in the same boat (together).

Invictus ll, Monotype, 10 5/8 x 13 1/2 in.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

To Sail Beyond Sunset

I am still framing work for the 2010 Vashon Island Holiday Art Studio Tour.  Posted above is a small monotype that will be part of my show.  It is inspired by these few lines from Tennyson’s poem Ulysses.

Come, my friends,
’Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.

My Mixed Media Monotype, "To Sail Beyond Sunset," is 5 1/2 x 5 1/2 in.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Dorus,  Monotype,  5 1/2 x 5 1/2 in.
I have been framing work for the 2010 Vashon Island Holiday Art Studio Tour and decided to share another image that reflects the reoccurring theme of “Origins” in my recent work.

Dorus, son of Hellen, (father of the primary tribes of Greece) is the mythical King and founder of the Dorians in the region of Mt. Parnassus, north of the Gulf of Corinth. 

Every student of architecture who read Sir Banister Fletcher’s History of Architecture will recall his descriptions of  “temenos” or “sacred enclosure” and remember the comparative architectural evolution of Greek orders. 

The Doric Order and Column, named for Dorus was the the simplest and first of the orders, the archetype, the original.   In my Monotype I have depicted Dorus’s crown or capital as a fluted section of column, another detail of the Doric order.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Birth of Athena

Birth of Athena,  Monotype, 22x30 in.

Artists participating in the 2010 Vashon Island Holiday Art StudioTour are preparing their studios and finishing work to exhibit and sell during the spectacular, annual, all island event.  If you live on Vashon this event is free!  If not, for the price of a ferry boat ticket, forty one studios and galleries will display work from over 100 Vashon Island artists.  All of this artwork is yours to peruse and purchase the first two weekends in December.  Here is the Studio Tour link to the art map and all the studios you will want to see.

This year my studio is number 12 on the map.  I will exhibit my print, painting and assemblage art and will share my studio with the fused glass and dyed fabric  creations of Sooze Bloom deLeon Grossman and Benjamin Grossman (better known as Laughing Magpies), as well as Tiffany Seymour Huslig who this year is  making toys to delight your families' pets.

Posted above is a sneak peek of my large Mixed Media Monotype, The Birth of Athena, with a detail  posted below.   It is the first of several artworks based on “Origins” as theme.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Roby King Print Exhibition

I just returned from a wonderful opening and artist reception at  Roby King Gallery on Bainbridge Island. Each October Andrea Roby and Wes King invite artists to exhibit work in their annual print exhibition and this year I was honored to be asked to show with seven of the most amazing print artists.  Above I have posted the card invitation. 

No More Stones, one of my Monotypes in this exhibit is shown below.  Several people at the opening asked what inspired the imagery.  The image is intended as a dark reminder about the realities of war.  1) All wars are the same war.  2) In war their are no winners, only losers.  3) In this age where war is waged by pushing buttons we need to think about real consequences surrounding conflict before we act.

It was inspired by the the musical genius of Enter the Haggis, their song titled No More Stones
and its Chorus:

Hey, ho, the wind has blown
Won the war, now there's nothing to show
Seeds sewn, time to grow
No more stones to throw

My Monotype, No More Stones, is 26 x 20 in. with antique glass buttons made in Czechoslovakia early in the last century.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Odysseus, Where Art Thou?

Odysseus, Where Art Thou?  13 x 8.5 in.
I will have new work at The Heron’s Nest on Vashon in October; Monoprints who’s themes celebrate Homer’s famous lovers.  Yes, Helen and Paris will be there of course but also Penelope and Odysseus.

In this work I have continued to experiment printing with dry pigment.  As the imagery evolved I kept thinking of Wallace Stevens’s poignant poem about Penelope imagining, preparing for, the return of Odysseus (Ulysses) and want to include it here.

The World As Meditation

Is it Ulysses that approaches from the east,

The interminable adventurer? The trees are mended.

That winter is washed away. Someone is moving

On the horizon and lifting himself up above it.
A form of fire approaches the cretonnes of Penelope,

Whose mere savage presence awakens the world in which she dwells.

She has composed, so long, a self with which to welcome him,

Companion to his self for her, which she imagined,

Two in a deep-founded sheltering, friend and dear friend.

The trees had been mended, as an essential exercise

In an inhuman meditation, larger than her own.

No winds like dogs watched over her at night.

She wanted nothing he could not bring her by coming alone.

She wanted no fetchings. His arms would be her necklace
And her belt, the final fortune of their desire.

But was it Ulysses? Or was it only the warmth of the sun
On her pillow? The thought kept beating in her like her heart.

The two kept beating together. It was only day.

It was Ulysses and it was not. Yet they had met,

Friend and dear friend and a planet’s encouragement.

The barbarous strength within her would never fail.

She would talk a little to herself as she combed her hair,

Repeating his name with its patient syllables,

Never forgetting him that kept coming constantly so near.

Wallace Stevens, 1879-1955

The Fleet Afloat  15 x 11 in.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Monotype Workshop

When print and water color artist Ilse Reimntiz invited me to co-instruct a monotype workshop I happily excepted.  Ilse is an incredible artist and mentor to many, myself included.  Her print imagery ignited my initial interest in monotype, for which I am truly grateful.

September 10-12 we coached five enthusiastic, print curious, artists in basic monotype techniques and were witness to inspiring results.  Check out the photo below of one students dynamic work in progress.
What fun!  I am already looking forward to the next workshop Ilse and I will conduct early in the new year.

Monotype  printwork from the workshop by Sarah Stuart

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Long before cultivation of the grape, bees were sacred to the goddess Demeter, and Mead, or honey wine, was the drink of the Golden Age. 

Made from honey, water and yeast, fermented Mead was central to the ecstatic Cretan celebration of the Minoan New Year (the summer solstice) and to the ritual sacrifice of the Cretan Bull. 

Kerenyi, the word for drunk in classical Greek, even translates as “honey intoxicated!”

When Bainbridge Arts and Crafts Gallery invited me to create an image for their exhibition about imaginary wine labels, the original libation of choice, bee begotten Mead, immediately came to mind.

Link to the exhibit information for Vin Faux: Imaginary Wine Labels & Bottles at Bainbridge Arts and Crafts Gallery:

My mixed media Monotype, MEAD is 21’”x 21”.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Pangani at Vallise

I have been experimenting with a new (for me) Monotype print process.  With this technique I am printing dry pigment onto paper saturated with ink. 

The imagery is based on my collection of early to mid 20th century Tanzanian and Kenyan wooden busts originally carved for tourist trade and export. 

Pangani is currently showing at Valise Gallery in a truly remarkable, all Vashon Island artist, show.

Panagni is a 12 x 14 in. Monotype with found object (bone button).

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

"Dog Walkin Waltz"

I have a new instructor, a minder and reminder.  She is my pup, Aki!  She has come to tutor me in “The Moment”.   Her mantras are “Celebrate the Present” and “Be Here Now”  She teaches by example.  She is, as Pablo Neruda once wrote about his own dog-

Joyful, joyful, joyful,
as only dogs know how to be happy
with all the autonomy
of their shameless spirit.

The image I have posted above named "Dog Walking Waltz" was made several years ago to celebrate the spirit of another wonderful pup who taught me how to dance every day. 

"Dog Walkin Waltz" is a Monotype Print, with gold leaf.  26” x 20”.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

2010 Vashon Island Spring Art Tour

The Spring Vashon Island Art Studio Tour begins this weekend!  On May 1-2 and 8-9,  from 10 AM till 5 PM, twenty nine participating Vashon studios will throw open their studio doors and welcome art patrons who may purchase art and learn from Vashon artists how they create the work they are exhibiting.

When you visit Vashon artists in their studios you discover art of amazing variety and extraordinary quality.  Here is a link to find out about the wealth of art you will experience on Vashon Island during the Spring tour.

This year I will start my art exploration with a new studio on the tour.  The Reimnitz Studio, # 18 on the map, will be showing oil paintings by Hartmut Reimnitz, watercolor paintings and Monotypes by Ilse Reimnitz and sculpture by Gunter Reimnitz.

The Vashon Island Art Studio Tour is free, (just follow the numbers designated on the Studio Tour map) but because a visit to Vashon  also entails adventure over water you will be required to pay Washington State Ferries a fee for your fun.  Here is the link to Washington State Ferries.

I am not exhibiting in the spring tour this year, so this is my big chance to buy bowls at Liz Lewis's pottery studio, (#8 on the map), and to visit with and see what other Vashon visual artists have been up to.   This will be fun!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Joined At The Hip

For a few formative years, in childhood, a good friend and I were often described by his grandmother as “Joined at the Hip”.  We shared our hours, days and lives.   It was an apt description for two preadolescent boys, paired by circumstance who discovered, tested, teased and taught, each other, about being boys and life growing up in a small Kansas town.
The phrase, Joined at the Hip, generally refers to the condition of conjoined twins (commonly called Siamese twins), although in reality conjoined twins are rarely joined at the hip.

My sculpture, Joined at the Hip, is an assemblage of antique Quebecer gut seat chairs, Wood, and Acrylic paint on Linen.  37 1/2 x 44 x 24 in. Photos by Charles Backus.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Today I am posting a photo of my assemblage Match from an ongoing series about twins.  I am unsure about the basis for my personal interest in twins.   There exists however, a universal fascination with the mystery of sameness and opposites, of duality and the stories that twins inspire.

Across cultures and through history, myths of twins as: partners (the Roman Romulus and Remus), rivals (the Egyptian Osiris and Set), opposites (the Greek Apollo and Artemis), and two haves of a whole (the Greek Dioscuri, Castor and Pollux) are evidence of our interest and attempt to explain this intriguing natural phenomenon.

Match is a play on the various definitions of the word match and the associated condition of twins.  In my assemblage, Parcheesi is the organized game that may be characterized as a match.  Contestants move color differentiated and matched disks by rolling a set of matched dice along paths that mirror (match) each other in visual organization with Home as the goal.

I have introduced a doubled ended pencil in this game of conjoined twins as a symbol for two sides to every story or a way to keep score, a bivalve as two haves which make a whole and protect the core which is home, a set of dice, each identical, that will in combination always be greater than the one, and the double white pip on black domino, symbolic of mirrored opposites that appear exactly the same.

Match is 20"x 20", Found objects, Glass, Wood, Game pieces, Metal boxes, Acrylic paint, Vintage Parcheesi board.  Photo by Charles Backus

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The UnClad Show! Guardian At Play

Gallery by the Bay in Stanwood Washington is presenting, Unclad the 9th annual festival exhibition celebrating the nude figure in art.  The opening is Saturday, March 13th, 11 AM to 8 PM.  Come meet the artists, view the show, check out the related gift shop, listen to live music, and enjoy the party!

The images above and below are my entries for Unclad. My Monotype, Guardian at Play, (above), is about the inseparable relationship of humanity and nature and a visual reminder to play well with others.

My Monotype, First Morning, (below), is about the realization that each day is defined by what we assign meaning to; that the Realm of Possibility, we are born to each day, has infinite boarders.  In addition to these images I will also have 24 related (unclad) images for sale as cards during the exhibit.

Gayle Picken, is the founder and director of Gallery by the Bay.  She and her staff of enthusiastic volunteers have put together this remarkable show, (March 13-28),  featuring work by 108 artists from across the United States and Canada as well as a series of inspired and related events.
To find out more about Gallery by the Bay and preview Unclad artwork click here:

My Monotype Print, Guardian at Play, is 36” X 29”.  My Monotype Print, First Morning, is 29” X 36”.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Eve Modeling Ready-to-Wear: The Garden Collection

The wonderful people at Bainbridge Arts and Craft Galley are putting together another fine show!  I just returned from dropping off my own work and had the opportunity to see some of the exceptional images and objects all made in the name of Art Couture.  The opening is March 5th from 6-8 PM.  The show will be up through March 29th.

Today I am posting Eve Modeling Ready-to-Wear: The Garden Collection. She along with Kali: Fashonable Diva were printed, painted and assembled for the Art Couture exhibit.

After seeing “Eve” a friend suggested I had obviously been channeling my pink and green inner Barbie.  Well, it may be true.  And perhaps a little Barbarella, Pia Zadora, and my very own Aunt Eva.  
Though "Eve" could not be Eve and certainly not haute Couture without her Snakey-Do.

Eve Modeling Ready-to-Wear: The Garden Collection is a Monotype Print and Wood, Assemblage. 20.5”x 18”x 2” Photo by Charles Backus.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Kali: Fashionable Diva


The Bainbridge Arts and Crafts Gallery Exhibition, Art Couture, opens Friday, March 5th.  I had fun with this theme and look forward to seeing the other work.

Kali: Fashionable Diva, is one of two print assemblages I made for the Art Couture exhibit.  Kali is the celebrated Hindu goddess associated with time and energy and redemption.  I often write about what I am working on and this is my poem about Kali.

Pearl like skulls adorn her breast,
Cosmic garlands of conquest,
Bone white trophies from a bloody occupation.

She is multiform and formless,
Fiercely stylish, shaped by grace,
The seed of change, the sower and the reaper.

Born to war, protect her own,
Judge and recreate the dance,
She is the “killer” goddess we call mother.

We are her miracles of chance,
Of birth and death through happenstance.
Goddess Kali is our vehicle of deliverance.

BF, 2010

Kali is an Assemblage of Monotype Print, Wood, Paint and Kid Leather Gloves.  30”x 27”x 2”.  Photo by Charles Backus

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Kita-Ku Wrestlers

Tickets are still available for the Equal Rights Washington Gala and Auction (March, 6, 2010).  This fundraiser and celebration promises to be another spectacular event  held to help finance this important political advocacy organization for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community of Washington State.

Check out their website at:

Emmy award winner, comedienne and actress Judy Gold is the guest star this year.

I have donated my Monotype “Kita-Ku Wrestlers” (posted above) for auction.  Kita- Ku Wrestlers is one of an ongoing series of  paper-cut Monotype print collage whose subject is wrestling.

“Kita-Ku Wrestlers” is  19.5” x 27”.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Flower Power: Unfolding

The Silverwood Gallery’s 2010 Invitational show is opening on Friday February Fifth.  This year’s theme is Flower Power!  Ninety plus artists are participating.  When I dropped off my monotype assemblage Unfolding yesterday, Eric Heffelfinger had just begun hanging what promises to be a remarkable show.

Eric and Margaret Heffelfinger, artists and owners of Silverwood Gallery on Vashon Island, Washington, began their themed invitational exhibits several years ago.  The shows are always a visual treat and sometimes present a real challenge for the artist to create work within the parameters of the chosen theme.
My entry, a Monotype and wood assemblage, is titled Unfolding is an attempt to visually describe the evolving process of growth affected by a changing environment or fluctuations of fortune.

is approximately 22” X 14” X 2”.  Photo by Charles Backus.