Wednesday, May 24, 2017

My First Raven Print


This is a newest version of my oldest raven image.

The original print "Raven Call" was started when I lived on Nantucket Island in 1987 but was finally finished when I moved to Alaska in 1989.  While in Alaska the print was used for the cover illustration for “The Raven & The Totem” by John E Smelcer with the forward by Joseph Campbell.

 The left image is the first edition and the image on the right is a colorized version for the 25th anniversary edition

When I lived in Minnesota all of my copies of the edition were destroyed due to a roof leak. I did not know it at the time but the leak also damaged the plate, I discovered the damage in 2012. A corrosive substance pitted the surface and damaged the image.  I reworked the plate, adding a dark border, I also introduced more foliage and engraved throughout the image and re-aquatinted the raven.  I also added a new image to the print, the “soft ground” impression of an actual raven feather that I had since I live in Alaska. I further enhanced the feather with Drypoint and Engraving.

Printing these two plate takes over an hour of work to create each final print. Each print requires inking and step by step cleaning until the plate has ink in all the lines yet the metal is perfectly clean. Today we are used to everything being done quickly, printing is done with your computer and digital printer. This process dates back to the Renaissance and has changed very little. Acids and engraving tools create the lines. Each print is individually hand printed. 
plate before ink is added
applying ink by hand
hand wiping the plate. Printmakers love to get their hands dirty!!

Finding a Raven's feather was once considered a gift.

To Native People finding a raven feather on the path was believed to mean that the finder was on a higher spiritual path or it may be a sign of encouragement to seek a path to discover new wisdom.

In many Native cultures feathers are symbols of higher thought or spiritual development. Despite the Dark coloration, Raven is the Creator and bringer of light. Eagle and Raven feathers were worn by Native American Chiefs to symbolize their communication with Spirits, and to express their wisdom. Also in the Native American Indian culture, feathers represented the power of the thunder gods, along with the power of air and wind. Raven as a Totem animal was associated with, heightened awareness, humor, enlightenment, higher intelligence, higher thought, higher ideals, and creativity

THE GIFT -Etching 12 inch by 21 inch 2012


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Alexander The Great and The Ravens

The Alexander Mosaic detail, dating from circa 100 BC from the House of the Faun in Pompeii

I am a real History nerd. I love ancient stories and mythology. I started thinking about this print when I overheard a NPR program on Alexander  The Great and the story was about his many near death experiences. One story had to do with two Ravens (or crows).
Birds in Greek mythology sometimes have the ability to speak. These talking birds, often sources of wisdom, may be deities in bird form or simply messengers of the deities. Either way, their advice is generally sound, and humans ignore it at their peril. Birds warn of dangers ahead, reveal secrets, and guide heroes and travelers on their way.
Zeus Ammon
 Alexander sought confirmation of his divine origins. In Egypt, Alexander decided to make the dangerous trip across the desert to visit the Oracle at the Temple of Zeus Ammon. Zeus was considered the ruler of the Olympian gods in ancient Greece Amun, called "Ammon" in Greece, was the parallel "king of the gods" in the religion of ancient Egypt.  Alexander and his men soon became lost in the desert. Disaster was averted when two black ravens miraculously appeared, Alexander urge his fellow Greeks to follow them as they must have been sent by the gods to guide them. Callisthenes, Alexander's historian, records that the ravens limited their flight to assist the party, even cawing loudly if they went off course.  As they flew rain clouds gathers and soon drenched them.

Anxious to visit the Oracle as soon as possible, Alexander then went immediately to the temple of Amun, the high rock outcrop of Aghurmi profoundly impressing him. Plutarch, famous Greek historian, says that according to his sources, Alexander was met by the Siwan high priest who greeted him with the words "O, paidion", "Oh, my son", but mispronounced the Greek as "O, pai dios" meaning "Oh, son of god", much to Alexander's joy and surprise.

 The small number of his men waited in the temple courtyard, and after the high priest announced to all present that the God was content, they could proceed with their questions. One of the Macedonians asked the Oracle whether they might give their king divine honors, to which the reply came "This would please Ammon". Then in his capacity as pharaoh and high priest of all the gods, Alexander was led into to the heavily-scented darkness of the inner sanctuary to put his questions personally to the god himself.
Portrait head of Alexander the Great depicted as the sun god


Black crows await the god-king.
The craving of power draws close.
The two birds shelter the Lost God in parched lands.
They quench his thirst and soothe his obsession.

"Awaiting Alexander", Intaglio Etching 2014, 5 inch x 7 inch has been selected as a finalist in the Animal/Wildlife category of The Artist's Magazine 28th Annual Art Competition. The original plate was lost. I remade the plate, this is a new edition.


Sunday, January 29, 2017

Raven Destroys the Tooth Fairy

The Tooth Fairy
Unlike Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, there are few details of the tooth fairy's appearance that are based on myth. Today most people believed the tooth fairy to be female like Tinkerbell-type tooth fairy with the wings, wand, and leaving money under a child's pillow. 

Other people think the tooth fairy as a man, or a bunny rabbit or a mouse.  Belief in the tooth fairy is viewed in two very different ways. On the one hand, children believing is part of the trusting nature of childhood. On the other, belief in the tooth fairy is frequently used to label adults as being too trusting and gullible.


During the Middle Ages superstitions arose surrounding children's teeth. In England children were instructed to burn their baby teeth to save the child from hardship in the afterlife. Children who didn't commit their baby teeth to the fire would spend eternity searching for them in the afterlife. The Vikings, paid children for their teeth. In the Norse culture, children's teeth and other articles belonging to children were said to bring good luck in battle, and Scandinavian warriors hung children's teeth on a string around their necks. Fear of witches was another reason to bury or burn teeth. In medieval Europe, it was thought that if a witch were to get hold of one's teeth, it could lead to them having total power over him or her.
In parts of Asia, when a child loses a tooth, it is customary to throw it onto the roof if it came from the lower jaw, or into the space beneath the floor if it came from the upper jaw.  The child shouts a request for the tooth to be replaced with the tooth of a mouse. This tradition is based on the fact that teeth of mice grow for their entire lives. In India, children bury their teeth in the soil near big trees. In Japan, a different variation calls for lost upper teeth to be thrown straight down to the ground and lower teeth straight up into the air; the idea is that incoming teeth will grow in straight. In Middle Eastern countries, there is a tradition of throwing a baby tooth up into the sky to the sun or to Allah. This tradition originates to pre-Islamic times.


original ink drawing for Tooth fairy
My original drawing for this print was done in pen and ink, it was done as an illustration for a book that was never published. I liked the image and the concept and decided to redo it as an etching

Raven stands over his bait pile

 Raven is a "trickster" in stories and myths; he is sometimes a hero, a troublemaker, a glutton, a buffoon, a destroyer or a creator. The Trickster alternately scandalizes, disgusts, amuses, disrupts, chastises, and humiliates (or is humiliated by) humans.
Raven is extremely jealous of anything that Human Beings hold in high regard. Raven always wants to be the center of attention. Over the centuries, he has created doubt in the minds of Humans about Mythic Beings such as the Easter Bunny, Leprechauns, Gnomes, Mermaids, Elves, Pixies, and Santa Clause. And he has destroyed Ancient Gods one by one. But the one Mythic Being that is the most persistent problem is the Tooth Fairy. It shows up at all times of the year and Raven has not control over this annoying sprites appearances’.
Raven hatched a scheme to rid the world of the Tooth Fairy. Raven has hoarded Human teeth and is waiting with a fly swatter to put a swift end to this pest.
In the instance, Raven is a troublemaker.

intaglio etching, 5 inch by 8 inch, 2016

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Odin's Ravens

"Thought and Memory"

 The whole world wide, every morning,
Fly Huginn’s thoughts and Muninn’s memories;

Secrets convey, insight drawn

Ravens gods watch 
Odin, with his allies of solitude
Huginn and Muninn,
Are a Triad of silent scrutiny.

Huginn and Muninn (Hugin and Munin-modern) are the premiere messengers of the supernatural world. In Norse mythology Huginn and Muninn were a pair of ravens who served Odin, and their name's mean is Thought and Memory.

Every morning they left to see what was happening all over the world, and at sunset they flew back to Odin to rest on his shoulders, whispering in his ears all that they had seen., They also symbolize secret knowledge. They were, in fact, the first gods of premonition.

This is one of the most Iconic images in Nordic religion. The two Ravens were Gods, part of a powerful Trinity. Odin was the most revered and was the father of all the Norse gods He is one eyed and was the god of death, war, the sky, wisdom and poetry. He sacrificed his eye to gain wisdom of the ages. Odin’s great quest was for greater knowledge. In Germany, he was known as Woten.  Most of the representations of Huginn, Muninn and Odin depict them atop his throne.
They are often represented with Odin riding a horse as the Ravens flying with him. They are also often shown flying together. My challenge was to create a totally new unique image. I tried several postures for the birds and settled for one at rest and the other active. My big problem was the setting, where can I place them? I wanted my version to be unusual and memorable. I chose the sword because it is so symbolic of the Vikings.
The Viking sword was based on the Roman Spatha, which was a feared weapon throughout ancient Europe. The hilt is unique to the Norse but was adapted by Franks, and Saxons as a standard weapon. The hilt is slightly different with the Franks and Saxons. I used several modern replicas as well as ancient examples for my sword. I wanted it to look well used and very old since Odin was a long-lived God.

I also decided to make my image a diptych rather than one long print. I wanted each raven to stand on their own as well as together. I also wanted to show a little distance between the two bird. When I first published this image online I did not add watermarks and of course it was pirated, mostly by heavy metal bands.
I also got a request from one band to splice the image. This image was used in promotional material. I used this to create a smaller single image version.

In 2011 I decided to submit my prints to the Annual Artists Magazine competition. I fully expected to get rejected. I was thrilled to be a finalist and was awarded an honorable mention and my print was published in the 2011 competition issue. The print is featured in the December 2011 issue of THE ARTISTS MAGAZINE p. 50

“ODIN'S RAVENS” , Huginn and Muninn Etching, 4.5 inch x 10.5 inch 2013 $55.00

 "Thought and Memory" Huginn and Muninn Etching 5 inch x 14 inch 2013
The 2010 plates for this etching are missing so I have remade the plates. Because they are new plates I am issuing a new edition.

“THOUGHT II”- Huginn Intaglio Etching 5 inch x 7 inch 2013
The 2010 plate for this print was lost and I remade the plate. Since it is a new plate I am starting a new edition.

"Memory II "- Muninn Intaglio Etching 5 inch x 7 inch 2013
The 2010 plate for this print was lost and I remade the plate. Since it is a new plate I am starting a new edition.