August 2, 2013

Crazier Critters by Siegl

        I shared some wood block prints of critters by Siegl last week, and today I wanted to share some of her made-up monsters.  Siegl made quite a number of relief prints with fantastical monsters, no two alike, although most of them have avian elements.  She has a really nice, whimsical sense of imagination not only in the composition of the creatures themselves, but also in the roles they play.  They're often dancing, or with children, many hold plants or flowers, and they tend to look more adorable than scary.  Many have a shy look, and even the ones that are
presumably meant to be fierce or evil (as in the Hellish or Infernal Concert) end up seeming pretty cute.
        You can see in these examples how Siegl uses color.  She frequently prints a colored background with a plain, grained piece of wood, often inked with multi-colored gradations.  For the little Moon-bird she carved some white areas from the background block, but more often the background block seems to be completely uncarved.  (That doesn't mean it wasn't worked with, though.  Wood grain doesn't always show up much in printing unless you use a wire brush or some other tool to remove the softer areas of the wood and leave the grain raised.)
        Like Siegl's other work, these monstrous critters have lots of scratchy texture of fur and feathers.  Many have rough outlines and very carvy details.  They are rich in legs and horns, beaks and fins and wings…  I find them a lot of fun!

[Untitled monster, wood block print by Helen Siegl from The Birds and the Beasts Were There, 1963;
Hollenkonzert (Infernal Concert), wood block print by Siegl, 1965;
Moon-Bird, wood block print by Siegl;
Untitled monster, wood block print by Siegl from The Birds and the Beasts Were There, 1963;
Untitled, wood block print by Siegl;
Chick's Ballet, wood block print by Siegl, 1968.  (Images from Block Prints by Helen K Siegl)]


Nan said...

Anne, you might enjoy Carla Sondheim's blog:

The current pages are not of animals, but if you search back you can find all sorts of clever ideas.

Anne E.G. Nydam said...

Thanks for the tip, Nan. I'll check it out.