Mike Lyon

'It's a Dog's Life'

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Artist's comments ...

One fun (sometimes frustrating) thing about printing is that the prints never turn out exactly as I anticipate -- and maybe the surprise is the most comical thing!

I was originally thinking that the real comedy of Life is that it doesn't last very long -- starts with birth, and the punch-line is that the end is already rushing up. So, I was imagining things like a pretty girl with skirt tossed by autumn breeze and skeleton clinging behind. Or skeleton with breeze tossed skirt. Or madonna with baby skeleton. Kinda comical in a dark way. Then it seemed like dogs would be naturally more comical than girls and skeletons. And with Halloween approaching, I wound up with another one of those doggie designs with no place for the eye to pause, just figure eights and circles forever... The theme is something like: pack of dogs finding their way through forest when rain starts, lightning strikes, ghosts dance everywhere, is it the end? No one knows...

Originally, I planned to use sienna, ochre, ultramarine... an autumnal pallette, but got to luxuriating in the play between the veridian and magenta, and the edition print kinda developed impromptu.

Sorry the print lacks a better story, and that the humor connection so weak (what in the world did I think was going to be so comical about the inevitability and unpredictability of the end, anyway?

The center ghost dog kinda got lost in the pale middle of the print, so I enhanced it a bit with mica -- my first experience with mica -- seemed way, way too easy... hope it sticks forever and doesn't get all over every other print! Now that REALLY wouldn't be very funny! I hope you like the print.

Here are the printing particulars for those who like that sort of thing:

  • Artist: Mike Lyon
  • Title: "It's a Dog's Life"
  • Medium: Hanga (Japanese style polychrome woodblock print)
  • Size: Chuban (8 1/2" x 10 1/2")
  • Paper: Gampi, handmade
  • Quantity: 31 for Baren Exchange #7 (The Comedy of Life), plus 13 proofs
  • Date: Began design October 11, began cutting blocks October 13, completed printing October 27, 2000
  • Watercolor Pallette: Quinacidrone Magenta, Veridian, Cadmium Yellow Medium, Prussian Blue, China White, Sumi
  • Number of Blocks: 12 ( 19 carved 7 were not used for edition prints. Key block was altered prior to edition prints to remove lines from all except trees and lightning and eyes of center dog of trio. )

Number of printings: 18

  1. ghost dogs: shina block in white
  2. complete background: shina block in pale blue
  3. complete trees: shina block in pale veridian
  4. bokashi of background: luan block in blue + Sumi (bottom)
  5. bokashi of background: luan block in blue (top)
  6. dog trio: shina block in pale magenta
  7. bokashi of trees: luan block in veridian (top)
  8. repeat bokashi of trees: luan block in veridian (top)
  9. lightning: shina block in yellow
  10. two back dogs of trio: shina block in blue
  11. center dog of trio: luan block in magenta
  12. lightning: luan block in magenta and yellow
  13. repeat ghost dogs: shina block in white
  14. bokashi of lightning: luan block in magenta and yellow
  15. lightning: luan block in yellow and white
  16. key: shina block in black
  17. rain: shina block in white
  18. ghost dogs: shina block (center dog) in paste and affix mica

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