Archive for Nebraska

Recent Prints

Posted in Art, Artist Residency, National Parks, Personal History, Soul Food, Southwestern US, Woodblock Printing with tags , , , , , , , on August 13, 2015 by WanderArtist

There have been clouds of wood shavings flying from the woodblocks in my studio these days – I’ve also been focused on drawing and making prints. I believe I’ve generated more prints in the last four or five months than the many previous years combined. Some might say I have been visited by my muse. I appreciate the concept of the muse in art – a spirit or source inspiring art creation… However, ideas and creations are not solely the responsibility of a potentially fleeting spirit outside the artist…

Another definition of muse is to have deep thoughts, or to meditate. This is a large part of how I see my artistic muse these days. It is not merely a presence visiting and inspiring – it is hard work, observation and time spent in the outdoors – and being driven as well by the desire to push my ideas to the next level ~ along with many hours of drawing and carving fine lines in wood.

I hope you enjoy my musings from the last few months…

Art @ Homestead

Posted in Art, Artist Residency, Drawing, historic sites, Museum, National Parks, Personal History, Wanderings, Woodblock Printing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 20, 2015 by WanderArtist

For a few weeks earlier this year I was awarded the opportunity to be Artist-in-Residence at Homestead National Monument of America. This wonderful National Park commemorates the Homestead Act of 1862, signed by President Abraham Lincoln. It is located in southeastern Nebraska (about an hour south of Lincoln) on the site of the first homestead awarded under the act. That 160 acres was homesteaded by Daniel Freeman and his family.

commuting to the Heritage Center through the tall grass prairie

Homestead boasts the oldest restored tall grass prairie in the US – restoration began in 1939 and takes up 60 acres of the park. The scenery, even in early spring, is stunning. One of the things I enjoyed most was walking along the path and listening to the wind move through the tall grass. I also had the pleasure of spooking some white tailed deer one morning, I could just see their ears over the grass.

The bird life was in full spring mating mode – glorious, rambunctious and plentiful! We saw wood ducks, red-winged black birds, larks (the Nebraska State bird), red-bellied woodpeckers, blue birds and various raptors. Another great pleasure was the sound of coyotes after dark.

My time was spent drawing and creating a woodblock print of the log cabin on the grounds. The Palmer-Epard cabin is visually and historically inspiring. (By the way, I could find no connection in my family to the Palmer family who built this cabin.) I worked quickly on my drawing in order to have enough time to, in turn, cut the woodblock and then run a small edition of prints in order to have them on hand at my lecture, which was to be held at the end of my two week residency.

some scenes from Homestead National Monument

Click any image for a larger view & caption… then click on the ‘x’ (upper left) to return to blog, if there is no ‘x’ then click the ‘back’ button on your browser

the wonderful plowed-shaped Heritage Center with tall grass prairie in the foreground

 

 

Creating a drawing was about a ten hour process. Once I had the image where I wanted it I traced it, flipped the tracing over, and traced the back of it onto the block using carbon paper between. The image has to be flipped in order to print in the proper orientation. This step is not as necessary if it’s an abstract image, or something loose – but for a building or words, one generally does not want to print them backwards ~

IMG_20150319_155342769

IMG_20150319_162411189 the tracing, flipped horizontally, and affixed to the woodblock with carbon paper between (top photo)

Once the image was transferred to the wood block the process of cutting out what I want to remain white on the final print began – this process took approximately eight hours for the Homestead block. The next step was to make a print or two in order to decide if I wanted to cut more away… I usually do this step before I feel the cutting is final in order to see how the various components of the image are working together as a print, and to get a better visual on my cutting progress. I often want to cut more away, and that was indeed the case with the Homestead block. The rule of thumb however, is to always cut less than I think I want since I cannot go back!

cutting on the Palmer-Epard cabin block

cutting on the Palmer-Epard cabin block in the park’s Heritage Center

I prefer to use oil-based ink even though it requires mineral spirits for cleaning up. The quality of print is much better in my opinion – yeilding finer lines without the ink ‘blocking up’ in the board cuts – and the wood grain tends to show through in a subtle but alluring way that I have not seen with water based inks.

 thanks to Photopia for the photographs

After a few printing sessions – with more block cutting between – I started to get prints that more closely matched my vision for a final print of the Palmer-Epard cabin. Another session or two netted me a small edition of woodblock prints. One of the final prints was donated to Homestead National Monument of America, and several went to buyers. One of my goals with these residencies is to eventually create a large series of woodblock images of some of my favorite National Parks. This summer I will be working on a quartet of different prints of Zion National Park scenes. I recently received the good news that I have been awarded another residency for this autumn in Bighorn Canyon National Park in Montana. Stay tuned for more imagery!

APalmer-HomesteadNM

The Beatrice Daily Sun published a nice article that helped to net a good audience for my public presentation at Homestead. Thanks to everyone who visited with me at Homestead, and to all the staff and volunteers who helped to make my stay a very pleasant one!

Walk the Line

Posted in Family, Inspiring People, Personal History, Wanderings with tags , , , , , on March 27, 2014 by WanderArtist

Thoughts of travel back to the land of my birth (Nebraska) have spurred me once again to study old family photos and written histories. As anyone who studies their genealogy will say… There were some interesting characters in my family line! Relatives have traced my father’s family as far back as the 18th century and the first Palmer to step on American soil. There are as many interesting stories in my mother’s family – including the possibility of Algonquin lineage, and a family connection to the Charles Tufts family who donated the land for Tufts University. Here I will illuminate some of the Palmer line – mainly because I have better written information and many more photographs going back to my great-great-great Grandparents, William Henry Palmer & Permelia Higgs Palmer.

The first Palmer of my family to arrive in the New World was John Palmer, who sailed from England to Virginia in 1764. His son – also John – moved from Virginia to Kentucky. Very little is known about either of them… who they married, what work they did, even their birth and death information is not known to us. John Jr. was father to my great-great-great Grandfather, William Henry. William married Permelia Higgs, whose father came from Scotland, and they moved from Kentucky to Indiana. According to a relative who wrote the genealogy to which I refer, “Having lived in Kentucky before moving to Indiana, the Palmer family was very strongly pro-Southern in their views and opinions. Permelia was once mobbed in Thorntown by an angry crowd who objected to her violent denunciation of Lincoln… Jumping into her buggy… and wielding a big whip, she managed to escape.”

William Henry Palmer & Permelia Higgs Palmer

William Henry Palmer & Permelia Higgs Palmer

My great-great-great Grandparents William and Permelia had nine children, their son Joseph Thomas Palmer (1832-1912) was the first to move to Nebraska – in 1856. Joseph taught school when he first arrived in Nebraska but freighted provisions to miners in Denver in a covered wagon after his marriage – before eventually settling down to farming. Joseph met and married Lydia Ann Brinson from Nebraska City in 1861. They also had a large family of eight children and my great Grandfather Arthur Franklin Palmer, Sr. (1876-1951) was born on a farm west of Raymond, NE.

Joseph Thomas Palmer & Lydia Ann Brinson Palmer 1901

Joseph Thomas Palmer & Lydia Ann Brinson Palmer 1901

Joseph Thomas Palmer & Lydia Ann Brinson Palmer

Joseph Thomas Palmer & Lydia Ann Brinson Palmer

Arthur Franklin Palmer, Sr. married Georgia Alma Guthrie in October, 1901, they had three children. Georgia (1879-1977) is my favorite relative in photographs, for reasons I hope you will see. I remember her as a small but very strong, white-haired old woman at Grandpa’s house when I was a little girl. She was frightening to me because she would sometimes grab us (maybe she did this only once and it has grown in my memory!) hold us tight, and ask “Whose little girl are you?” in an angry voice. It is difficult to reconcile the old woman I remember with the young beautiful and intense woman in the photographs.

Georgia Alma Guthrie Palmer & Arthur Franklin Palmer, Sr.

Georgia Alma Guthrie Palmer & Arthur Franklin Palmer, Sr.

Georgia Alma Guthrie Palmer - fully loaded

Georgia Alma Guthrie Palmer – fully loaded

Georgia Alma Guthrie Palmer

Georgia Alma Guthrie Palmer

Here I will diverge briefly from the Palmer family to show a few photographs and a business card of J.H. Guthrie, who I think was Georgia’s father.

J.H. Guthrie business card

J.H. Guthrie business card

J.H. Guthrie

J.H. Guthrie

J.H. Guthrie

J.H. Guthrie

My Grandfather, Arthur Franklin ‘Frank’ Palmer, Jr. was the oldest child, born in 1907. Grandpa married Abbie Housel and they had eight children. My father, James Lelon Palmer is the second youngest.

Arthur Franklin Palmer, Jr. 1926

Arthur Franklin Palmer, Jr. 1926

Arthur Franklin Palmer, Jr. & Abbie Housel Palmer

Arthur Franklin Palmer, Jr. & Abbie Housel Palmer

Abbie Housel Palmer

Abbie Housel Palmer

James Leland Palmer at work as a Photojournalist for Associated Press, ca. 1989

James Lelon Palmer at work as a Photojournalist & Editor for Associated Press, ca. 1989

I will end with thanks to my relative Bertha Hornung who, in 1954, compiled what was then known of our family history… And my father deserves the biggest ‘thank you’ for taking Bertha’s “Briefly Biographical” and typing it (along with a concise family tree) and sending the document to my siblings and me back in 1989. It is from my father’s collection of family photos I have culled these gems. There are many more fun photographs which may prompt later installments – and make me further ‘Walk the Line’!

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