The Rich Story of Carved Lines

Usually the prints I make are deeply personal illustrations of my heart, vision and journey.  From the early days printmaking has been, to me, a form of prayer, offering up to the Father layers of concern and expression of things I do not often fully comprehend.  Within that context is a platform to explore the visualization of spiritual concepts, revelations and principles- basically a blundering effort to make the unseen seen on some level.  I wonder that I am taken up with making a “graven image”  and how that settles with the second commandment (Exodus 20 verse 4 if you are interested).  Hopefully, what I am making are objects that are doors or windows that might lead one into worship, certainly they are far from worshipful in themselves.  I take comfort that the Merciful One will ultimately be the judge of my heart on this one.

These images here, are a divergence in a way, in that, they are the mixture of my expression and visual language with the story and purpose of two other entities.  The first of those is Matt Eich of Mule Resophonic GuitarsHe has been building these beautifully crafted and, by all accounts, almost magically sounding guitars for five years now.  The resulting print will be the certificate of authenticity that will be presented with every instrument that he sells.  Matt is passionate about story and building rich relationships with his customers, and he invests personal expression into every instrument.  His sense of story has been woven together with mine here, I hope.

On a technical level, I am always in an attempt to push myself past where I was before in my work. It may only be in a way that is visible to my own eye. With printmaking I compose a design and I wonder if I will be able to pull it off- if the level of detail will translate as a small mammal, or a vine, or a bird- or just a confused tangle of ink. Many times it has resulted in the confused tangle. This print for Matt has tons of this risk built into the design, and I think his spirit has elevated me, because I somehow feel a door has been unlocked.  Of course, I really won’t know until the ink hits the paper- but there is hope that these tiny branches will be able to speak.

The second entity is the musical trio Sister Sinjin.  My good friend Elizabeth Duffy is part of this group of women who sing devotedly to the glory and love of God.  This image from this block will become the cover art for their upcoming record.  The contemplative spirit of their music really seems to offer a counterpoint to the industrious detail of the print I’m making for Matt.  I’ve noticed and appreciated the contrast as I have been working back and forth between these two blocks.  The quite offering of the woman and the persistent labor of the plowman.  Both have offered a lot of opportunity to grow and develop and express, and I am grateful.  There are many photographs of the carving process below, which is still underway in both cases, though I am nearly done with the Sister Sinjin block.

A Profile in Plough Quarterly

My family and our work were humbled to be featured in the most recent edition of Plough Quarterly.  There is a profile by Susannah Black, and a feature on Go On: Inner Man Version, an altarpiece I made back in 2003, and also an excerpt of my responses to some questions about our lifestyle, called Farming the Universe.  If you choose to take the time to read some or all of them, I sincerely hope that you enjoy them.

Go On, Inner Man Version, 2003, oil on wood panel, closed position
Go On, Inner Man Version, 2003, oil on wood panel, open position

 

Walking Man, Jonah, and The Ancient Ocean

Walking Man, Jonah, and the Ancient Ocean, oil painting on a poplar panel by Jack Baumgartner, 14.5″ x 22″, 2017
Upper panel, Walking Man striding through the arch
Lower panel, Jonah, swimming, yields to the sea monster
detail of the upper panel, with barn owl, Burr oak and cliffs.
Upper panel detail with symbolic structures
Lower panel detail of Jonah

The completion of a painting generally means a decision to stop working on it, otherwise the cycle would never end.  This painting, which was begun in October of 2009 reached that generally unheralded milestone of “completion” this fall, 6 years later.  Technically, the work is not entirely done, as I have yet to build the frame for it, which, especially for my panel paintings, represent a significant part of the presentation and outer composition.  I hope share some of the meaning behind this painting at some future date.

 

The Farm in Mid-Summer

celebrations of lucerne and other legumes, solar crescents, roots, and the husbandry of even toed-ungulates

sward of chicory, crimson, and white clovers
inquisitive crossbred pig in a paddock of rye and vetch
hampshire pig eating bolted chicory
improvised by a previous farmer, well worn window weight cover chains
nitrogen nodules formed on alfalfa (lucerne) roots
lucerne (alfalfa) roots and crown, pulled from the vegetable garden
garlic, un-earthed
root fire works
sonar malfunction (?) allowed us a daytime visit from a strange and fierce nocturnal beneficient
windrows in the alfalfa (Medicago sativa) meadow
the rusty old New Holland swather in contrast eating alfalfa
I read once that the Arabic word from which the name “alfalfa” came meant “best fodder”
Louis Bromfield justly brought attention to its role as a soil healer. It seems to live up to its names, feeding livestock, pollinators, humans, the soil and its inhabitants, and the atmosphere.
I feel grateful that I get to farm my own patch of lucerne. In the background is a mobile chicken coop with laying hens working the perimeter of the meadow. We’ve learned that alfalfa is a key ingredient in good eggs.
the angus bottle baby
bellows for milk
lambs in the illuminated profile of humid dawn
the young shepherd studies his flock
compact paddocks of soybeans and milo forage, bloody butcher field corn, and the Quonset barn looking at home in the landscape
the great blue heron disturbed from his breakfast, as we head across the creek to do the morning chores
sun in hand
interplay of lensing leaves and the light of 92% totality
solar shield
transfixed
the image of the solar eclipse projected through on half of pair of binoculars proved to be the most successful of viewing contraptions
photographing under the helmet, layers of eclipse and lense
contractions of the dry months
elevated mundane details; oxidations of copper and steel
a barn that is part celebration of geometry, part dog house
the colors of the barnyard hens grouped together over their dawn ration
wax goldenweed of the many cousins in the sunflower family
emergence of the inflorescence of Indian grass
dr. Seuss hairdo of thistle
snow-on-the-mountain
snouts and ears
coreopsis growing in a wheat field we are converting to perennial pasture