Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Psalm 29

How long should an artist pursue an idea? a dream? a vision?  

The "idea/image" came to me in a flash of inspiration, but getting that image on the block was going to be quite a journey.
I knew that I wanted to pay homage to Hokusai's great print, but how?  Lino seemed way too cold and a rectangular woodblock just wasn't exciting me, until I helped a neighbor cut down a tree and saw him slice off a chunk.

 Aha, that was it!  

I then set off on a journey to find the perfectly shaped stump that would inspired me and do honor to the image.  After a few hours of searching and a long explanation to the guy selling fire wood that I only wanted a "slice" of a log, I had three perfect slices.

But then I quickly realized two things: one was that these slices were not of an even and consistent thickness, and two was that they were far from dried wood.

First, let's get my favorite stump slice dried!  So I left it in my hot car all day long.  Uh oh, it's cracking, what to do?  The it dawned on me, this fits right into the Psalm even better;
The voice of the Lord breaketh the cedars; 
yea, the Lord breaketh the cedars of Lebanon.
 I could make this work I was thinking, now to get the thing leveled.

Sweet Jesus, it's cracking even more!  OK, I can still make this work.  I think.  It took me a total of two weeks to finally get this block level, sanded and to stop it from splitting apart any more.  BTW, it usually takes me less than an hour to prep a block.

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention, the image I wanted to carve wasn't working on the first stump slice, it was splitting in an awkward way.  So I had to start all over again with one of the other slices.

 So, here is the image drawn on the block, prior to carving.
And, the finished carved piece (which still was not perfectly leveled, but good enough to work with).

OK, now many months later, I am finally ready to print!  The final printed image almost made me weep, I was so happy that it came out like it did.

Printed with Graphic Chemical black water based ink on a sheet of 15" x 22" Zerkal Book off white 145gpm paper.

Getting the ink to distribute evenly on a warped block was a nightmare, so I glued the block to a piece of 3/4" plywood and weighted the sucker down for a week.

And printed again.

Here are a few random pictures of the illumination process:

 And here is the final, full size illuminated manuscript:

Quite simply, this image is a gift from God, in it's totality, truly a gift.

Please leave a comment below.



  1. Beautiful, Dan. I think this is my favorite one so far. Simple yet powerful, and it seems to contain not just one line of the psalm but the entire thing. Wonderful.

  2. Dan,
    this is impressive...I have always appreciated illuminated manuscripts...good job.

  3. Thanks for sharing your process. I love how you incorporated both the water and tree imagery into one print. The border at the bottom is also impressive as is the gradation on the background of the illuminated initial.

  4. Please keep posting! I love your work!

  5. I hope you are still pursuing your dream. You are gifted by God and your imagery helps me as I contemplate the psalms.

  6. I feel even more blessed to own this beautiful piece now that I've got the story behind it!! All of your work is truly stunning. Thanks uncle Dan. Xoxo

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  8. Stunning! Beautiful in form and meaning! Linda

  9. Stunning! Beautiful in form and meaning! Linda