Wednesday, May 21, 2014


Lynne Gerard's signature seal - or "chop" 

In my Grey and Green journal entry, Eva left some queries for me in the comments section.  I thought it would be fun to answer those queries in a new journal entry where I could go into greater detail and provide some photos as here we go!

"I am intrigued by your seal.  What does it mean?  Did you carve it yourself in Jade stone?"

Eva's interest in this seal gives me an opportunity to provide some background to how it came to be...

You could say it began a number of years ago, when Kris McCormack (a mutual friend to Eva and me) sent me several lovely marble covered sketch books, (made by Michael Roger Press, New York) and also a year or so after that she gifted me with another sketch/journal book made in Nepal, imported by Savoir-Faire.

Two favourite sketch books

In the marble covered sketch book I work on charcoal drawings:

Grandpa Droski, study in charcoal by Lynne Gerard

In the Nepalese sketch book I make ink wash studies for images I am working to incorporate into my Paleolithic style rock paintings:

Torso ink wash sketch by Lynne Gerard

Torso with symbolic design, ink wash study by Lynne Gerard 

Feminine Energy, original rock painting by Lynne Gerard, meas. 15"x10"x1 1/2" 

One day last summer I was looking through these sketch books and thought a number of the sketches were interesting enough to sell in the gallery.  Working most of the time in watercolours, it seemed to me that maybe these charcoal drawing and ink wash sketches were too monochromatic to hang aside more colourful images.  It was then I wondered if maybe a simple red seal would strike a good balance and push the sketches more toward finished art.  I discovered via the internet that there were several companies who would take my name and convert it into Chinese calligraphic characters and carve me a seal (chop) in jade stone.    Though I am, myself a calligrapher, my lettering is done with English characters of course and I don't feel I've earned any right to use a Chinese seal for the type of things I create, even if they sometimes have an Asian feel to them.  I had read that James Abbott McNeill Whistler had made himself a stylized signature seal to stamp on his paintings and thought it might be something I could attempt as well.

I knew I would not be able to carve in stone but maybe I could make a rubber stamp for my seal/chop?  I had no idea where to begin, so had to do quite a lot of research on the internet (a real help when you live on a rather remote island!) and then order some supplies.  While waiting for the supplies to arrive, I worked on drawing up a design that incorporated my initials along with some of the goddess symbols I use in my rock paintings.  I tried many different variations and had to redesign time and time again because I was unable to reproduce some of the designs appropriately once I began to carve them into the rubber.  It was so difficult, in fact, that I thought I might give the whole idea up.  But I kept at it and finally found a finished design that seemed to work and looked appropriate with the ink wash sketches.

Tools and practice stamps

I also carved a stamp of my raven motif which was much easier than the signature seal!  I mounted both of them on small tile-like stones I collect from the Ravenseyrie beach along the North Channel of Lake Huron.

Rubber seal mounted on stone by Lynne Gerard
The backside of Lynne Gerard's signature chop

The symbols I used in my chop are a "meander" and a "chevron".  These are described well in a scholarly book by Marija Gimbutas, THE LANGUAGE OF THE GODDESS.  The meander is probably most well know as the "Greek Key" motif, but Gimbutas discovered these images on artworks from the Upper Paleolithic and felt they were symbols used by the goddess cults of Old Europe.  For her the meander symbolizes flowing water and was most associated with the bird goddess.  The chevron is a "V" and denotes the female pubic triangle and like the meander was most often associated with water birds and the bird goddess.

Here I have used these symbols on a rock paining I did to represent a bird goddess:

Detail of Bird Goddess rock painting by Lynne Gerard

Here I have used the meander and the spiral (infinite energy) along with a Sandhill Crane for another rock paining:
Dancing Sandhill Crane rock painting by Lynne Gerard

Curiously, I cannot bring myself to cut any of the pages out of my sketch books, so I have begun to do ink washes on other paper and then mount them as hanging scrolls or on matte black paper in a black frame. 

Hanging scroll with original ink wash & calligraphy by Lynne Gerard

Take a Break, original ink wash sketch and calligraphed verse by Lynne Gerard

Hanging scroll with original ink wash sketch and calligraphy by Lynne Gerard

Framed original ink wash and calligraphy by Lynne Gerard

I have yet to do anything about using the seal on charcoal drawings because I haven't made any that are not in the sketch book.  A project for another time, perhaps!  The abstract watercolour in the Grey and Green journal entry is the first time I used the signature seal chop (along with the raven chop) on anything other than an ink wash painting.  It seems to work nicely there, too, but I am showing restraint and not putting it on my other colour paintings...but maybe I should?

Grey & Green Abstract, watercolour


Anonymous said...

Very interesting how you came up with the symbols you used for your stamps. I think the ink washes are just as beautiful as your more elaborate paintings. Keep letting your talent grow.

Anonymous said...

It is Momm

June said...


eva said...

What a rare glimpse into your artistic process, Lynne. I agree it would be kind of silly to sign with a Chinese version of your name, but creating your own signature you make the form your own while indicating both its its origin and your distance from it. I imagine carving in rubber is difficult (i think i would have tried linoleum) but it came out well. The stamps look great on the rocks!

There are more and more Western artists practicing zen painting. Terry gave me this little book, Zen kitty: a cat's guide to enlightenment, by Vanessa Sorensen. She uses red accents, such as a tiny little mouse, or a ball, to indicate her adherence to the tradition. I love Leonard Cohen's selas, the interlocked hearts and the more mysterious adaptation of the hebrew priestly blessing in his seal.