Lyell Castonguay is a printmaker creating narrative woodcuts that incorporate transparent colors and complex, hand carved patterning. He received his BFA from the New Hampshire Institute of Art in 2010 and teaches woodcut at print studios throughout New England. He is also the director of BIG INK, a collaborative project that encourages other artists to practice large woodcut. Castonguay’s current body of work depicts the familiar imagery of birds in portraiture and masses, but they are distorted into allegorical beasts.
“As a pet owner and birder, I observe distinct personalities in my avian subjects. It is because they are such complex creatures that I choose to anthropomorphize them. The color and patterning of their plumage combined with their transient way of life inspires me to illustrate their forms in both figurative and abstract compositions”
The artist’s interest in avian subjects began six years ago when he was given two juvenile society finches. As they grew, he became fascinated with them. Castonguay eagerly observed them communicating with one another and watched them huddle together in the nest. These unassuming finches prompted an ongoing series focused on the emotional variety of birds, including: ferocity, restlessness, and uncertainty. Depictions of animals by artists such as Baskin, Frasconi, and Audubon have been a guiding force in this project’s development. Ultimately, Castonguay hopes to compile his growing bestiary of larger than life birds into a publication.
Unframed woodcut print by Lyell Castonguay. Plate 15 x 11, paper 18 x 13 inches. edition of 9