I have been thinking about printing an animal for the longest time. When I attempted to print our chocolate lab, he would try his best to help, but squirmed around in delight in his big hearted way. The cat, forget about it! While being still for naptime snuggles 16 hours a day, as soon as something that could potentially be played with comes along (a paintbrush), she wants to catch it in those lightening fast paws of hers. Chickens, well I’ll let you image that scenario. I always thought I would need to get a print after an animal has died, perhaps like the tradition of a death mask. In Japan, this practice of nature printing has in some fashion been around since the mid-1800's. This art form called gyotaku, or fish printing, consisted of inking and rubbing the print of a fish onto paper and may have been used by fisherman to record their catches.
Meet Katie, a gentle lady of distinction, full of spirit, 33-year old, partially blind, work-horse who lived longer than her owner. She has found a loving home here at Blue Star Equiculture with her sister and devoted boyfriend Buford.
Four of us (myself, Barn manager, Christina Anderson, farm intern, Brittany Furtado, and art assistant and photographer, Jill Greenberg) set up a salon for Katie, grooming her shedding winter coat (to be saved for another project). She got her nails done (picked her hooves) while she told us all of the paddock gossip. We crooned and whispered to her how beautiful and good she is. Coconut oil for her mane and tail; she looked lovely. With non-toxic ink, we did a test print of her leg, which was all just a part of the doting, love fest. And it worked! Next time, with her permission, I will get a full print.
On a side note, while massaging the print of her leg onto silk I thought of my late childhood friend and artist, Bryan Nash Gill, who, among other things, created stunning prints of woodcuts. He once printed from a large plank of wood of the Ming Dynasty. In his care taking and respect of that wood we witnessed his skill as a master printer and his deep love of Nature. I can only hope the human love for animals; the landscape and life we find ourselves sharing with them is present for you to see, as I explore Contemporary Pastoralism in this studio to farm exchange.