Friday, January 11, 2013

Arty Farty Friday ~ Paul Landacre, Wood Engraver.

Paul Landacre is widely considered to be one of his era's most talented creators of prints in the medium of wood-engraving. Born in Columbus, Ohio, on 9 July 1893; as a youth he shone in the sports arena and studied horticulture at Ohio State University. In 1915 he succumbed to a streptococcus infection rendering his upper body permanently weakened, affecting his mobility. Drawing was a help in overcoming his infirmities. A move to Southern California in 1916 led eventually to work as a commercial illustrator for an advertising agency in San Diego. In 1922 he moved to Los Angeles to study printmaking at Otis Art Institute. Three years later he married Margaret McCreery, an advertising copywriter who worked so that Landacre could concentrate on printmaking full time. Initially making relief prints using linoleum blocks, in 1927 he turned to wood engraving, which became his chosen medium. Self-taught, he did the exacting carving and printing himself. Throughout his career he retained careful control of his work, pulling almost all of his own prints, selecting the ink and paper, and fine tuning every aspect of the printing process.
(Engraving above: Lot Cleaning, Los Angeles.)

Landacre was a dedicated naturalist, as well as a bit of a bohemian. He and his wife lived in a house, some describe it as a cabin, in a secluded area, Edendale, in the hills above Los Angeles. The Landacre's old home, now said to be boarded up, was declared a Cultural Historical Landmark in 2006. During the Landacre's time the area had become quite a bohemian arts scene, peopled by some of the time's well-known arts and literature luminaries....something akin to London's Bloomsbury I guess - though more peaceful, far from the madding crowd. Paul and Margaret Landacre remained in their rural idyll from 1932 until their deaths in 1963, she by cancer, he from complications following a suicide attempt four weeks later.

Landacre's 12 noon chart (his time of birth isn't known) doesn't reveal anything startlingly significant in relation to his artistic style - though the fact that Fixed Star Algol, thought by ancient astrologers to have unfortunate connotation, was close to Jupiter, and quite possibly the Moon too at the time he came into the world, could link to the serious health issues he had to deal with in his youth.

Venus, planet of the arts, is conjunct Mars (energy), and sextile Saturn (discipline) on one side and Neptune (creativity) on the other - possibly reflecting the more exacting elements of his chosen artistic genre, and his insistence on carrying through the whole process himself....a somewhat more rigorous process than simply wielding a paintbrush! There are some paragraphs from Landacre's own words on wood engraving technique HERE.

Unless born after 9:00 PM his natal Moon would have been in Taurus, ruled by Venus - which seems likely, a later birthtime would put Moon in Gemini.

There's little online from which I could glean information on Paul Landacre's personality, very few photographs of him, none of his wife. They obviously shunned publicity and chose to remain part of a close community of like-minded individuals in their rural idyll. That aspect of Landacre doesn't shine through the 12 noon chart. Sun in Cancer could indicate a deep need to withdraw, though his three Leo planets would tend to counteract that. His ascendant might indicate that side of his nature more clearly, perhaps putting a number of personal planets in 12th house?

I like Landacre's prints, would be very happy to hang some around our walls! A few examples are shown below, click on them to see slightly bigger versions (there are lots more available via Google Image). Some of Landacre's work made me think of Georgia O'Keeffe's paintings, or sometimes those of Tamara de Lempicka or Henri Rousseau - similarity must have to do with the style of that time period.

Edge of the Desert

Growing Corn

Forest Girl

Sultry Day

Wood engraving for Donald Culross Peattie's book Flowering Earth

A Woman

Children's Carnival


Three Kids and a Horse


mike said...

His prints are stunning! He was an unknown to me until reading your post, Twilight.

It always fascinates me how some individuals have adversity visit and their lives are redirected in a completely positive fashion that creates renown for the individual. Can never know what would have occurred without adversity...perhaps Landacre was fated to be creative and famous in any field of endeavor with or without adversity. Then there's the other side of the coin: his life, exactly as lived, is the totality of his astrology.

Twilight said...

mike ~~ Unknown to me too - I was beginning a post about a different engraver when I happened upon Landacre's beautiful work.

I'm wary of attributing too much significance to Algol - or at least to the area of the ecliptic where Algol is found, but at times that area highlighted does show up as having significance of one kind or another, sometimes something unfortunate, sometimes just a surfeit of passion for something.