This print is representative of the edition of 31 produced for the Baren print Exchange #7 in October, 2000. Exchange #7 called for a chuban sized print in the theme of “The Comedy of Life”. You can visit the Baren site on the web. This print was intended to be somewhat comical. The fun, surprising, & sometimes frustrating thing about printing hanga is that the prints never turn out exactly as intended — maybe that is the most comical thing! I was originally thinking that the real comedy of life is that it doesn’t last long — we are born, and already the end is rushing upon us.
I was imagining images like ‘a pretty girl with skirt tossed by autumn breeze and skeleton clinging behind’, or ‘skeleton with gust-tossed skirt’, or traditional: ‘madonna with infant skeleton’. Not too light hearted, but kinda comical in a dark sort of way. then it seemed like dogs would be naturally more comical than girls and skeletons, and so easy to draw! With Halloween approaching, I wound up with another one of those doggie designs with no place for the eye to pause, the subject of my design going something like:
dogs make their way through unfamiliar woods, the wind blows, rain begins to fall, lightning strikes, ghosts dance everywhere, there’s no way to know when time runs out…
Originally, I planned to use sienna, ochre, an autumnal pallette, but wound up luxuriating in the play between veridian and magenta, and the edition examples kinda developed on its own during printing. I wish there were a better punch line, or story. The humor connection seems so weak (what in the world did I think was so comical about inevitable doom, anyway? The ghost dog in the middle of the print got kinda lost in the pale part of the print, so I enhanced it a bit with mica — this was the first time I have tried mica — it was way, way too easy!! I hope it stays glued down and doesn’t get all over the other prints in the suite! That wouldn’t be too funny, either!
- Artist: Mike Lyon (of course)
- Title: “It’s a Dog’s Life”
- Medium: Hanga (Japanese style polychrome woodblock print)
- Size: Chuban (10.5 x 8.5 inches)
- Paper: Gampi, handmade
- Quantity: 31 for Baren Exchange #7 (The Comedy of Life), plus 13 proofs
- Date: I began the design October 11, began cutting blocks October 13, and completed the printing October 27, 2000.
- Pallette: watercolors… Quinacidrone Magenta, veridian, Cadmium Yellow Medium, Prussian Blue, Chinese White, Sumi black
- Number of Blocks: 12 (19 carved, 7 not used for edition prints. Key block re-carved prior to edition prints to remove outlines from all except trees, lightning, eyes of center dog of trio, and border.
- Number of successive printings: 18 consisting of:
- ghost dogs shina block in white
- complete background shina block in pale blue
- complete trees shina block in pale veridian
- bokashi of background luan block in blue + sumi (bottom)
- bokashi of background luan block in blue (top)
- dog trio shina block in pale magenta
- bokashi of trees luan block in veridian (top)
- repeat bokashi of trees luan block in veridian (top)
- lightning shina block in yellow
- two back dogs of trio shina block in blue
- center dog of trio luan block in magenta
- lightning luan block in magenta and yellow
- repeat ghost dogs shina block in white
- bokashi of lightning luan block in magenta and yellow
- lightning luan block in yellow and white
- key shina block in black
- rain shina block in white
- ghost dogs shina block (center ghost only)
in paste and affix fine mica into wet paste