Painted Tongue Studios is a printshop made up of artists, and we each have our own projects in addition to the greeting card line. We want to share one that we are very excited about! Kim has been inspired by the work of poet and author Marly Youmans, and has illustrated her poem “The Red King to the Stricken Man”, with twelve pieces using monotype, letterpress, pencil drawing, and acrylic painting; each piece is 11″ by 14″ and visualizes different sections of the poem. The work began five years ago, but was interrupted by various other projects and needs, and we are happy to report that it is finally complete!
Marly’s work can be found here and information on her forthcoming books, including The Book of the Red King, a book of poems published by Phoenicia Publishing, can be found here. Although this artwork will not be featured in the book, Kim read the manuscript and found it excellent; we highly recommend it!
The artworks are incredibly detailed and feature recurring images such as jasmine flowers and fish, letterpress printed over the monotype backgrounds. Kim then paints and draws on each print by hand, making rich tapestries of patterns, colors, and figures.
In Kim’s own words:
“I first received this poem from my Aunt Patricia, shortly after the birth of my third child. It was an unpublished piece, which a friend of hers had from the poet. Patricia shared it because of my father, who had died after a difficult struggle with cancer years earlier, and also because of her father, who is also my mother’s father, who had died of cancer, leaving behind a wife and six children, when Patricia was a child and my mother was newly married.
When she sent the poem, I was juggling a newborn, two other young children, and clients, sleeping in two hour intervals, and too tired to try to read it. A year later, I finally did and was taken with the rich imagery and depth of meaning expressed. My aunt encouraged me to reach out to Marly. I did so with the intent of creating a single piece of arwork integrating visual imagery and text from the poem. Marly readily gave permission, but it was two years later before I was able to begin. When I did, it was in the midst of a strange year that I still struggle to understand. The night that I began it marked a resounding shift in my life that I won’t attempt to describe in this short summary. Afterwards, when I sat down to sketch, what was intended to be one piece with integrated text became twelve sketches with no words. Twelve works in silence.
Marly and I remained in contact through the years, and I shared the sketches with her and began working with this new conception. I printed the monotype backgrounds and made letterpress plates of jasmine flowers with six petals, variations on the snowflake mandala, and groupings of fish shaped like human eyes, and I printed these onto the backgrounds. I began the painting and drawing on the first three panels… when I was interrupted. I had to turn my attention to what became a pivotal change in my work, the first iterations of my art and writing about developing awareness of justice rooted in love.
Over the next years, I went continually back to this work, and then would be called away to other work, then back to this work, and then away again. I stopped telling Marly when I was working on it, disappointed in myself that I seemed never to finish. Finally, five years after the sketches were drawn, it is complete.
In my family, I was a first grandchild, conceived out of my mother’s grief for the loss of her father. Thirty years later, I gave birth to my son, another first grandchild, two months after my own father’s passing. I thought of dedicating my part in this work to them, but it reaches beyond them. It is to all of us.”