"These jewel-like paintings intuitively fuse different aesthetic traditions, folk art and old master, with natural grace and an uncanny quality that may be a species of magic." —American Arts Quarterly
It has taken a year to complete “The Watchers” lithograph print. I began working on the print in March 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic. In 2020 we released a monochrome gray print and now a year later Blackrock Editions and I are very happy to present the 14-color lithograph version. I adore the bright color palette of New Mexican turquoise and coral. The giant limestone on which I drew the image has now been retired, canceled and ground down afresh.
I never thought that a lockdown could have its advantages. In this case, it gave us time and opportunity to explore a side of lithography we never had the chance to do before. After completion of the small monochromatic edition of Fatima’s “The Watchers”, we began to ponder an approach to a color version and since Fatima’s painting style echoes the neo-classicism of a hundred plus years ago we reasoned a similar lithographic rendition would be appropriate. Jack (Lemon) has long been a fan of the Jules Cheret lithographs of 19th century Paris and suggested we follow a similar manner of working. The result is a 14 color lithograph not only in homage to old Jules but printed on the same kind of machine that would have been [in] use back then, our c. 1870 Marinoni Voirin Press. I feel the resulting print was a huge success with overlays and a saturation seldom seen in contemporary prints. It’s really a print to let the eye linger on.
~ Steve Campbell, Blackrock Editions, read more here
Unusually, I created the oil painting “The Watchers” after working on the print. I felt a deep connection to the subject matter and wanted to keep exploring it. The idea was born from my interest with 19th Century naturalist art and illustrations. In these works by artists such as Audubon, I found a fascination with the artist’s impetus to discover, catalog and illustrate the flora and fauna of the natural world. In the present time, with so many animals and plants becoming endangered and extinct, the desire is to preserve and protect. The black-footed ferrets in “The Watchers” have a precarious story. They were once thought to have become extinct in the 1970s. Miraculously, a tiny population was rediscovered in Wyoming after a rancher’s dog brought home a dead ferret. Through conservation efforts there are now about 700 black-footed ferrets. Their story is an inspiring tale of tenacity and hope, for in this case a species was rediscovered from extinction. In “The Watchers” the figure and ferrets are on their watch, ever vigilant for unknown dangers and glimmers of opportunity.
These paintings were inspired by the story of Orpheus and Euridyce in Ovid’s Metamorphoses and by Gluck’s opera Orfeo ed Euridice. Eurydice gets bitten by a snake and dies on her wedding day. Orpheus, inconsolable with grief, gains admittance to the underworld and his beautiful lyre music and singing of his grief persuades Hades to let him guide Eurydice back into the living. The condition is that she must follow behind him and he must not look back at her. When he sees the light, he looks back at her too soon as she is still standing in the underworld. She is immediately pulled back into the land of the dead forever. In the opera, Euridice pleads with Orfeo to look back at her and he is unable to resist. When she is returned to the underworld, he wishes to kill himself to be with her. Amore (Love/Cupid) stops him and as a reward for his undying love, returns Euridice back to life and reunites the lovers. Obviously I much prefer the happier ending in the opera version.
Che farò senza Euridice What will I do without Euridice
Dove andrò senza il mio ben. Where will I go without my wonderul one.
Euridice, o Dio, risponde Euridice, oh God, answer
Io son pure il tuo fedele. I am entirely your loyal one.
Euridice! Ah, non m´avvanza Euridice! Ah, it doesn´t give me
più socorso, più speranza any help, any hope
ne dal mondo, ne dal cel. neither this world, neither heaven.
~ Orfeo's aria in Gluck's opera "Orfeo ed Euridice"
New paintings are now available at Meyer Gallery, Park City. I started these late last year in the winter when I was dreaming of springtime and of brighter days ahead. Like many others, I found great comfort through walks in nature, contemplating the beauty of the landscape. “Heartsease” is a poem by Christina Rossetti which is simply about love and the symbolism of flowers. Heartsease is a much lovelier name for the pansy flower don’t you think? The painting “A Victorious Girl” represents my hopefulness and faith in overcoming adversity.
Blackrock Editions is now accepting reservations for my next print release Hand with Hummingbird and Lover’s Eye. It is a copperplate soft ground etching with aquatint and spit-bite techniques. Ten percent of the proceeds will be donated to the Navajo Water Project. When Blackrock approached me on a collaboration for their Progressive Print Project―prints with an aim towards donating part of the sales to a charity of the artist’s choosing―I felt honored and delighted to be able to help in some small way. The plight of the Navajo Nation and the Native American community in New Mexico during this pandemic has touched me deeply especially because of friends who have suffered losses and illness. I asked a Navajo friend how I could help when I learned of the print collaboration and she very graciously sent me a list of organizations. After many months of work (with the added challenges of socially distanced collaboration) and several iterations of printers and artist proofs we are finally able to offer it to the public.