Today's postings

  1. [Baren 25916] Third Message from John Koch (Gayle Wohlken)
  2. [Baren 25917] A short essay that might be of some interest ... (David Bull)
  3. [Baren 25918] Re: New Baren Digest (HTML) V28 #2777 (Sep 3, 2004) (Julia Ayres)
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Message 1
From: Gayle Wohlken
Date: Fri, 3 Sep 2004 09:56:03 -0400
Subject: [Baren 25916] Third Message from John Koch
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Again, I'm sorry about the repetition of this message for those not
receiving the posts via digest but another message from John Koch
did not appear in the digest.


* * *

"Oops! my mistake. Thanks Gayle, for the heads up. Plain text it is.

Thanks, all, for the kind comments. It always makes me nervous showing
my work, but that is in essence why we do this, correct?!

No, I'm not using Japanese techniques in the strictest of terms,
though I am working to incorporate things I like about the reduction
process with the things I like about the eastern process(s). I
believe in taking full advantage of my artistic license! In a few
cases, I'm finding this to be a recipe for disaster, but in most
cases, I like the results I'm getting.

While my printing to date is all done in color, I've got a series
of wood engravings in mind for this winter (maybe) that are in black
and white, with possibly one other color.

thanks again

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Message 2
From: David Bull
Date: Sat, 4 Sep 2004 00:07:44 +0900
Subject: [Baren 25917] A short essay that might be of some interest ...
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This evening I was reading through a book of short essays written in
the early part of the last century by the author/playwright A. A.
Milne. For some years he wrote such pieces for the magazines of the
day, taking as his subject anything that happened to pop into his head
at the time he sat down to write each one. Many are quite 'empty' - not
much more than random thoughts rolling off his pen until the required
1,000 words was reached. But a few of them have a bit more 'meat'.

Here is one that might be of particular interest to [Baren] members.
This material is still protected by his copyright, so we can't post it
permanently on our website, but I think it won't hurt to share it
around for reading on this list.

It's a fairly old-fashioned style of writing (written in 1920, just
after WWI), but I think you might enjoy it!



The Case for the Artist

By an 'artist' I mean Shakespeare and Me and Bach and Myself and
Velasquez and Phidias, and even You if you have ever written four lines
on the sunset in somebody's album, or modelled a Noah's Ark for your
little boy in plasticine. Perhaps we have not quite reached the heights
where Shakespeare stands, but we are on his track. Shakespeare can be
representative of all of us, or Velasquez if you prefer him. One of
them shall be President of our United Artists' Federation. Let us,
then, consider what place in the scheme of things our federation can

Probably we artists have all been a little modest about ourselves
lately. During the war we asked ourselves gloomily what use we were to
the State compared with the noble digger of coals, the
much-to-be-reverenced maker of boots, and the god-like grower of wheat.
Looking at the pictures in the illustrated papers of brawny,
half-dressed men pushing about blocks of red-hot iron, we have told
ourselves that these heroes were the pillars of society, and that we
were just an incidental decoration. It was a wonder that we were
allowed to live. And now in these days of strikes, when a single union
of manual workers can hold up the rest of the nation, it is a bitter
reflection to us that, if we were to strike, the country would go on
its way quite happily, and nine-tenths of the population would not even
know that we had downed our pens and brushes.

If there is any artist who has been depressed by such thoughts as
these, let him take comfort. We are all right.

I made the discovery that we were all right by studying the life of the
bee. All that I knew about bees until yesterday was derived from that
great naturalist, Dr. Isaac Watts. In common with every one who has
been a child I knew that the insect in question improved each shining
hour by something honey something something every something flower. I
had also heard that bees could not sting you if you held your breath, a
precaution which would make conversation by the herbaceous border an
affair altogether too spasmodic; and finally, that in any case the same
bee could only sting you once - though, apparently, there was no
similar provision of Nature's that the same person could not be stung

Well, that was all that I knew about bees until yesterday. I used to
see them about the place from time to time, busy enough, no doubt, but
really no busier than I was; and as they were not much interested in me
they had no reason to complain that I was not much interested in them.
But since yesterday when I read a book which dealt fully, not only with
the public life of the bee, but with the most intimate details of its
private life, I have looked at them with a new interest and a new
sympathy. For there is no animal which does not get more out of life
than the pitiable insect which Dr. Watts hold up as an example to us.

Hitherto, it may be, you have thought of the bee as an admirable and
industrious insect, member of a model community which worked day and
night to but one end - the well-being of the coming race. You knew
perhaps that it fertilized the flowers, but you also knew that the bee
didn't know; you were aware that, if any bee deliberately went about
trying to improve your delphiniums instead of gathering honey for the
State, it would be turned down promptly by the other workers. For
nothing is done in the hive without this one utilitarian purpose. Even
the drones take their place in the scheme of things; a minor place in
the stud; and when the next generation is assured, and the drones cease
to be useful and can now only revert to the ornamental, they are
ruthlessly cast out.

It comes, then, to this. The bee devotes its whole life to preparing
for the next generation. But what is the next generation going to do?
It is going to spend its whole life preparing for the third generation
... and so on for ever.

An admirable community, the moralists tell us. Poor moralists! To miss
so much of the joy of life; to deny oneself the pleasure (to mention
only one among many) of reclining lazily on one's back in a
snap-dragon, watching the little white clouds sail past upon a sea of
blue; to miss these things for no other reason than that the next
generation may also have an opportunity of missing them - is that
admirable? What do the bees think they are doing? If they live a life
of toil and self-sacrifice merely in order that the next generation may
live a life of equal toil and self-sacrifice, what has been gained? Ask
the next bee you meet what it thinks it is doing in this world, and the
only answer it can give you is, "Keeping up the supply of bees." Is
that an admirable answer? How much more admirable if it could reply
that it was eschewing all pleasure and living the life of a
galley-slave in order that the next generation might have leisure to
paint the poppy a more glorious scarlet. But no. The next generation is
going at it just as hard for the same unproductive end; it has no wish
to leave anything behind it - a new colour, a new scent, a new idea. It
has one object only in this world - more bees. Could any scheme of life
be more sterile?

Having come to this conclusion about the bee, I took fresh courage. I
saw at once that it was the artist in Man which made him less
contemptible than the Bee. That god-like person the grower of wheat
assumed his proper level. Bread may be necessary to existence, but what
is the use of existence if you are merely going to employ it in making
bread? True, the farmer makes bread, not only for himself, but for the
miner; and the miner produces coal - not only for himself, but for the
farmer; and the farmer also produces bread for the maker of boots, who
produces boots, not only for himself, but for the farmer and the miner.
But you are still getting no further. It is the Life of the Bee over
again, with no other object in it but mere existence. If this were all,
there would be nothing to write on our tombstones but "Born 1800; Died
1890. He lived till then."

But it is not all, because - and here I strike my breast proudly -
because of us artists. Not only can we write on Shakespeare's tomb, "He
wrote Hamlet" or "He was not for an age, but for all time," but we can
write on a contemporary baker's tomb, "He provided bread for the man
who wrote Hamlet," and on the contemporary butcher's tomb, "He was not
only for himself, but for Shakespeare." We perceive, in fact, that the
only matter upon which any worker, other than the artist, can
congratulate himself, whether he be manual worker, brain-worker,
surgeon, judge, or politician, is that he is helping to make the world
tolerable for the artist. It is only the artist who will leave anything
behind him. He is the fighting-man, the man who counts; the others are
merely the Army Service Corps of civilization. A world without its
artists, a world of bees, would be as futile and as meaningless a thing
as an army composed entirely of the Service Corps.

Possibly you put in a plea here for the explorer and the scientist. The
explorer perhaps may stand alone. His discovery of a peak in Darien is
something in itself, quite apart from the happy possibility that Keats
may be tempted to bring it into a sonnet. Yes, if a
Beef-Essence-Merchant has only provided sustenance for an Explorer he
has not lived in vain, however much the poets and the painters recoil
from his wares. But of the scientist I am less certain. I fancy that
his invention of the telephone (for instance) can only be counted to
his credit because it has brought the author into closer touch with his

So we artists (yes, and explorers) may be of good faith. They may try
to pretend, these others, in their little times of stress, that we are
nothing - decorative, inessential; that it is they who make the world
go round. This will not upset us. We could not live without them; true.
But (a much more bitter thought) they would have no reason for living
at all, were it not for us.

A. A. Milne, 1920
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Message 3
From: Julia Ayres
Date: Sat, 4 Sep 2004 05:48:34 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: [Baren 25918] Re: New Baren Digest (HTML) V28 #2777 (Sep 3, 2004)
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Dan, this is a great idea for a worthwhile and interesting printmaking book. I love and have used your "Printmaking in the Sun" . Your new book will also be on my shelf. Fortunately most artists are eager to share their work and ideas with their peers. It has been my experience that the most sucessful are the most willing to do this. My best, Julia