"Using Middle America as her muse, Kowch draws the history of a particular place -- invariably rural -- to the surface as it collides with a new reality in layers of metaphor and moodiness. The faces of her women may remind you of characters in a Tim Burton film."
--Steve Parks, Newsday

Sunday, March 16, 2008

New ideas in the works. . .

Currently in the process of creating some new works, I spent a good few days just sort of thinking. It's great when I'm able to take a few days off just to step back and evaluate everything; to read and research all kinds of things in order to keep the creative juices steadily flowing.

So, moving on with more book pieces, expect to be seeing some paintings that will illustrate the work of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, John Steinbeck, and possibly Edgar Allen Poe.

I've decided to begin with Longfellow's The Song of Hiawatha. A lengthy, beautiful epic poem based on the myths and legends of the Ojibwas of the Great Lakes. I was always aware of the story from a young age, always camping up in northern Michigan with family, visiting such places as Tahquamenon Falls, Pictured Rocks, Hiawatha National Forest, and every place in between. But I read it in its entirety for the first time a few days ago, closed the book, and said to myself, "I have to create something for this." Every page filled my head with imagery, and, after looking through what seemed like hundreds of my own pictures from various hikes and camping trips, I came up with this:

The scene is taken from the chapter/passage where Hiawatha builds his birch canoe by the Tahquamenaw (Tahquamenon Falls in Michigan's U.P.) to sail to Bawating (present-day Sault Ste. Marie):

From the ground the quills he gathered,
All the little shining arrows,
Stained them red and blue and yellow,
With the juice of roots and berries;
Into his canoe he wrought them,
Round its waist a shining girdle,
Round its bows a gleaming necklace,
On its breast two stars resplendent.
Thus the Birch Canoe was builded
In the valley, by the river,
In the bosom of the forest;
And the forest's life was in it,
All its mystery and its magic,
All the lightness of the birch-tree,
All the toughness of the cedar,
All the larch's supple sinews;
And it floated on the river
Like a yellow leaf in Autumn,
Like a yellow water-lily.

Each element in the image has significance at different parts of the story; from the geese, to the trees, to the soaring eagle, etc. But, to change things up a bit, this one will be larger, to be designed as either a wrap-around cover, or an interior spread.

Here's some of my favorite personal photos, that will be worked into the backdrop for this piece. They were taken from my visit to Agawa Canyon this past summer, a place only accessible by train -- 9-hours round trip from Sault Ste. Marie, located in the beautiful Canadian Shield:

Sailing across Lake Huron to Mackinac Island, a place I love visiting time and again:

Arch Rock - another awe-inspiring site, sacred in Great Lakes Indian legend, and one I always stop to gaze at when biking around the island's coast:

I also came across some old travel photos of me as a kid, and thought I'd post them just for kicks. . .it's funny to see how I was fascinated by the same things since day one.


Maureen O'Brien Illustration said...

What a beautiful poem. I really like the sketch and can't wait to see it painted.

William McCord said...

Yes, I have finally decided that I should start blogging. I like being able to post things quickly without having to update a web site. The poster I made for my blog, it wasnt an assignment. I like the book cover idea, Heather had told me that you were starting paintings for older books. I too like The Crucible, its been a while since I read it but definately a good book. Keep blogging and congrats on CMYK!