Daily Evil: W is for Wild

Is wildness evil? What sort of wildness? The forest and waves and wilderness are not things we think of as evil, but some wildness in humans seems very evil. Some is silliness, some is substances, and some is truly violence and cruelty and terror and evil.

This is another of Helen Burling Ottaway’s fantasy etchings, titled The Hunt, number 6 of 30, 1986. A merman with a trident and dogfish, with a variety of tails. The etching is 6.75 by 8, the paper 11 by 15. I like the lines of movement, of waves, from the escaping shark.

Daily Evil: U is for Unlikely

Unlikely isn’t evil. Well, I am tired of evil, so U is for Unlikely because I am tossing in a monkey wrench. U for unexpected, too.

Back to etchings: U is for Unicorn. This is titled “The Virgin and the Unicorn II”, number 10/75, 1986, H. Ottaway. The etching is 7 inches by 8 inches and the paper is 11 inches by 15 inches. She would often frame them mounted but not matted, in frames that have a slot to hold the glass away from the picture. She did her own framing and especially disliked cutting glass. I knew when a show was close because she would be framing and grumpy.

Daily Evil: P is for Persnickety

Again, this might be evil in some situations and not in others.

I interviewed at the National Institutes of Health in the mid 1980s, with Dr. Steve Rosenburg. He asked how good I was with details. I said it depended. He asked what I meant. I said that I was excellent and persnickety when it came to science experiments, but at my present job I had trouble caring about the exact margin widths that the director of the non-profit I was working for wanted. He said that might be important. I said that I agreed, but I would be better off in a lab. He hired me.

I was excellent and persnickety in the lab and went from there to medical school 3 years later.

Etchings are profoundly persnickety. You can’t even do the drawing until you have tarred the zinc plate and then you etch the drawing in acid, take the tar off, ink the plate, run it through the press with paper and put more tar on the plate after you wipe the ink off. And once you get what you want, you have to re-ink the plate for every picture. This etching has two colors, which makes wiping enough ink off to get the lines right very tricky.

This is “Those are the pearls”, 4 out of 25, 1981, Helen Burling Ottaway. The plate size is 8.5 by 11 inches.

I am having to be persnickety about photographing my mother’s works. I am getting better at it, but it’s tricky to get the light right, without shadows. The cats always want to help. Today they are out in the box watching the birds, since they kept walking over the etching. I am jealous of the professionals downtown who have a camera on a frame and can be very very persnickety about the photograph. I may try my tripod, as a weak second. I have my mother’s slides too, so I could try digging those out. She did her own mostly, so I am not sure about them.

Hooray for the letter P!

Daily Evil: I is for irritated

I am feeling a bit like this elf: irritated about the rain.

Ok, yeah, I did move to the Pacific Northwest 23 years ago, and I could have moved away. I love the beaches and the mountains here. But when we are having sun once every 10 days or two weeks in the season they call “spring” here, I do get a little irritated at the rain. Yesterday and today the wind is howling too. Whitecaps and I am very happy not to be out in a boat.

This etching is 2.5 by 3 inches, titled Rain Forest, number 5 out of 25, 1985.

Daily Evil: E for Ephalump

Oooooo surely it’s evil to make up new words. Or to verb words.

I think that my mother, Helen Burling Ottaway, was thinking about Winnie-ther-Pooh’s Heffalumps when she made this. This etching is another small one, 3 by 2.5 inches. She did many tiny fantasy etchings. This is a proof, for me. An artist’s proof is an experimental run, before the final edition. She might change the ink color, or put the tar mixture back on the plate and change it.

I have had this album since I was very little. Winnie-ther-Pooh with a Brooklyn accent, but really really wonderful!

Daily Evil: D is for Dragging

It’s a draggingfly. No, a dragonfly.

This is a tiny etching, 1.5 by 2 inches. The title is “For Temp”. This is number 27 out of an edition of 35. The plate needs to be reinked for each one and run through the press. Diddly, as my mother would say.

Temp is Fred Temple Burling, my mother’s father. He made a dragonfly sign for his name, since you can see a T, an F and a B in the shape of the dragonfly. My grandparents had a potter’s wheel in the basement and made some beautiful pottery. I have a few pieces. My mother did pottery as well later in her career.

Let’s see, is dragging evil? Sometimes people complain that others are dragging them down. But I remember a counselor saying to me, why are you responsible or affected by your husband’s moods? They are his. You do not have to fix them or leave the room. I thought, oh, that is true though at first it was quite difficult.

And what about dragging in drag racing? Some people may be very much for dragging.

I am still a little stiff today, since stiff muscles normally last about 48 hours after we’ve overused them. It feels like normal muscle stiffness, not like my post pneumonia chronic fatigue weirdness. That muscle fatigue starts when you use the muscles and it feels very painful and like they just don’t work. Then they feel dead for a while. It is very peculiar and hard to describe.

Z is for Zarasthustra

Last day of April A to Z, blogging about Women Artists and particularly Helen Burling Ottaway, my mother. Can you name five women artists now?

This etching is from 1975. I was fourteen years old. I remember my parents discussing titles of etchings. My father, Malcolm Kenyon Ottaway, would often help title them. This etching is titled “Thus spoke Zarasthustra”. I wish that my parents were alive so that I could ask about this etching. Why Friedrich Nietzsche? When I am fourteen, my father receives his MA in mathematics and leaves SUNY Binghampton for a job at General Electric in Alexandria, Virginia. We move from New York State to Virginia and I start high school that year. I think that Alexandria was a much better place for my mother, all the art and artists, than for my father.

I hope that you have had a wonderful month in April: and I hold those in my heart in the war zones or who are lost and suffering.

ATOZBLOGGINGCHALLENGE2022 #art #Women artists #Helen Burling Ottaway #ATOZCHALLENGE #APRILATOZ

For more information about the #AtoZChallenge, check out this link.

Y is for Yellow

I am blogging A to Z about artists, particularly women artists and mostly about my mother, Helen Burling Ottaway.

My parents both loved puns and my mother loved gardening. Cowslips is an etching that is then painted with watercolors. She has a whole series of pun flower etchings.

ATOZBLOGGINGCHALLENGE2022 #art #Women artists #Helen Burling Ottaway #ATOZCHALLENGE #Christine Robbins Ottaway #APRILATOZ

For more information about the #AtoZChallenge, check out this link.

X is for X-Acto knife

I am blogging A to Z about artists, particularly women artists and mostly about my mother, Helen Burling Ottaway.

My mother disliked cutting mats more than almost anything except vacuuming and cutting glass. In the late 1980s and early 1990s my grandmother lived two doors down in Alexandria, Virginia. My mother took over part of the basement for matting, glass cutting and framing. Times right before shows included complaints about cutting mats and glass, her saying that she didn’t have enough things framed (though she always did) and at least one piece of glass broke. The X-Acto knife was the tool for mat cutting at that time. My mother usually cut herself at least once for each show. She was particularly annoyed if she bled on the freshly cut mat or the painting or etching.

Hanging the show involves a lot of time out words as well, but she would get excited once it was hung. Then it was time for dress up. Shows were a command performance: my sister and I were to go as well. We dressed up and talked to people politely and ate the strawberries when my mother was not looking. The opening of the show would include food and usually wine. In small glasses. And no, we weren’t allowed to have any. We had to look at the art and be polite to adults.

The photograph today is another of my poems with my mother’s etching. And look, she has avoided cutting a mat. She bought special frames, with two slots. One holds the glass. The second holds the mat with the mounted etching. If the glass rests on the etching, it can ruin it. She mounted all of our ten prints and poems this way. Clever artist and they look wonderful.

ATOZBLOGGINGCHALLENGE2022 #art #Women artists #Helen Burling Ottaway #ATOZCHALLENGE #Christine Robbins Ottaway #APRILATOZ

For more information about the #AtoZChallenge, check out this link.