Jean Eger

'Ruffled Feathers'

(Click thumbnail to pop-up an enlargement - 51K)

Artist's comments ...

[Baren] members critiques:

Positive points ... Tremendous image, very strong thoughtful layout. Is this a political piece? Looks like armageddon to me, or maybe that is because I have seen the horse head equated to helicopters. I like the contrast between the soft white clouds and the blue sky and the ominous flyers. Also the contrast between the detailled line of the horses and the blocks of solid color in the other areas. The horses do not seem ominous, more like a door to hope.

Room for improvement... I think this is a great print, it made me think. Did you try it in other colors? I am a great lover of color so would be interested to know if you tried any others and discarded them for whatever reasons.

General comments on the print ... Keep printing......we want to see the rest in this series.

Positive points ... I like the way you cut the copters. They always remind me of dragonflies, and that feature remains a clear identification marker in your print. Also, I really like the way you did the cloud shapes. They are so lively and yet so calligraphic, like great billowy characters in the sky.

Room for improvement... Since you are looking for criticism, I will offer these remarks, which are only my subjective reaction and not based on any real background at this sort of thing.

My eye is drawn to the clouds. They have the least detail but are the objects that pull the eye the most. Was that your intent? There is a great deal more to see in the pegasi and the helicopters but the whiteness of the clouds nonetheless keeps pulling my eye away. Maybe it is because of the brightness of the color white makes my eye think it is foreground and therefore closer. Who knows. I get the feeling that you wanted to chop between the dark and the light but wonder if you had a cloud on the other side of the upper copter that it might seem more balanced, or perhaps the lower copter a little higher, or perhaps the lines of the pegusi cut heavier to pick up from the curviness and fullness of the clouds? I am getting at overall unity - trying to find ways to tighten the relationship between all the very individually strong objects. Perhaps you could have the pegasi facing back toward the copters so that the weight and the direction of the weight does not pull out ... the lower right hand side of the print?

General comments on the print ... Was this meant to be used in context with text? The balance of text would make quite a difference in the balance of the print. Was this done for a special audience, to whom everything has a special significance? There is a lot of energy here that suggests significance I cannot decipher. Not bad at all, but I am more drawn to your nasturtiums....

Positive points ... Interesting composition. I like the way the inset block breaks up the picture plane. Nice graphic quality to the cloud and helicopter elements. Beautiful color and transition on the sky.

Room for improvement... Because the elements I mentioned above are so crisp and clear, I feel the print may have been served better if the winged horses (Pegusi?) were cut a little more boldly and clearly -- a stylization similar to what you've done with the clouds. When I first looked at the print, it took a few moments for me to realize I was looking at horses. In places, the lines delineating the legs disappear. If the horses' outlines were a little wider (like the way you've cut the manes, tails, and the underside of the belly on the Pegasus to the right), I think the shapes of the horses would 'scan' more easily and nicely compliment the other shapes -- blending the design elements of both parts of the print.

General comments on the print ... Nice resolution to all of the printing problems you encountered along the way.

Positive points ... The sophisticated concept is the strength of your piece. By somehow bringing scary black helicopters and winged horses into the same composition, you raise questions that seize the viewer's attention. Matisse said "I don't paint things, I only paint the difference between things." I look at your print and am intrigued by the difference between the helicopters and the ethereal horses. Another strong point is your "picture within a picture," "rectangle within a rectangle" design idea. Are you thinking of the golden mean idea here, to the effect that the proportions of the black rectangle shape are consistent with the small rectangle's relationship to the entire picture rectangle? It has that feeling about it.

Room for improvement... Your shapes seem a bit too neatly contained within the image. I would like to see one cloud cropped off by the top margin of the design, and perhaps a cloud running off on the left margin. You have a graceful gradation printing of the blue sky; what if the black rectangle containing the horses also was printed in an overall gradation? Finally, there is a traditional, old-fashioned rule about odd numbers of elements in a design. For some reason, I would feel that the design was less predictably balanced if there were a third helicopter, angled differently from the other two, perhaps overlapped by the black rectangle or even cropped along one of your borders.

General comments on the print ... I can't comment on the printing technique, since I've never done a Japanese water-based woodcut (shhhhh....don't tell anyone in the Baren group). As I stated above, I think you have presented a provocative combination of elements that arouses my curiosity. In a world flooded with images, that is high praise.

Positive points ... I enjoyed your print and looking for the artist's message. I like the limited use of colors (black, blue & white) and the way you outlined your subjects. Both the horses & the helicopters are easily identified without unnecessary detail. Also liked your depiction of the clouds. The print makes a very strong statement.

Room for improvement... My only comment is that at first, the black background for the horses makes it hard to see them, I would like them to jump more at me kind of like the black helicopters against the blue background. At first I did not like the solid black rectangle breaking up the composition, but then as I studied the picture more and more it has been growing on me. Perhaps some more white clouds within the black rectangle or intersecting the blue & black space would help bring the two subjects together...but then again....maybe this was not the statement you wanted to make and that is fine.

General comments on the print ... It looks like the artist is making a strong statement here. Political ? Can't be sure, I first thought of military helicopters and then I thought that perhaps they were life-saving medical helicopters. What is the relation between the flying horses and the helicopters ? Ruffled feathers ?

Angels of mercy or machines of destruction ? I think there is a connection between the sweeping blades of the helicopters and the feathers & wings of the horses. I once made a print of a flying horse... it is a rather charming & romantic subject. Would like to know more about your motivation for this print. Very nice work Jean.

Positive points ... I love the picture within the picture. The print captures my imagination. I do not know what the title implies, but it really does not matter. I like the blue against the blue. The horses lend so much drama and motion to the picture.

Room for improvement... It will go up on my wall soon and I am sure my husband and I will have many discussions as to the meaning. The cross in the center of the dark blue, although amall, keeps drawing me to that spot. Is that intentinal?

Although the meaning of the helicoptors escape me, I seem to want to know about the cross and it really does not disturb me as much as puzzle me????? If I knew you better, perhaps I could understand.

General comments on the print ... All the general comments , I believe have been stated. You have a fascination with horses, as I do. Your black and white horse on your Web Page has always delighted me!