The Mary Oliver Series

Mary Oliver has always been one of my favorite poets. Over the years I have collected six books of her work, which is five more than any other poet in my collection! With the beginning of the new year, I had been searching for something to guide my printmaking. My husband and I had recently decided that I would be staying home for the remainder of the school year to be with our newborn, so I wanted to have a printmaking goal to work towards in the elusive moments when the baby was napping.


When I heard of Mary Oliver's passing in January, I dove into one of her books. A few poems in and I knew exactly what I wanted to do - create a series of prints inspired by her words! I wasn't sure what that exactly meant or what it would turn into, but I couldn't think of a better way to honor her life and work.


As I write this, I have completed five prints in the Mary Oliver series. Every week I start fresh. I pick up her books and read many poems before choosing the one I want to illustrate. Usually, I am struck by a particular image that I want to draw. Once I have chosen, I start sketching. I have a designated sketchbook for this series and, in order to keep the process quick, I try to limit myself to only one or two pages for each poem. Unlike my usual style of working, I don't worry about size or orientation until later.


To see this series unfold, follow me on instagram @onkka.prints.


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©2017 By Nan Onkka