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Making the Unknown Known: Veil

“Making your unknown known is the important thing–and keeping the unknown always beyond you.” ~ Georgia O’Keeffe

The island appears to float in this print entitled Veil.

Woodblock Print 2018
14″ x 10″

This woodblock print Veil, is the second in my series of Mashagama Lake, in Ontario, where my husband and I enjoy paddling together in our canoe. My husband picked the title for it. I think it is perfect.


I wore a veil,

and a big, fluffy dress on my wedding day. I was 36, my husband was 39, and with an eight-year-old son. I walked up the aisle alone.

A few months after we were married, I began my graduate studies in printmaking and was soon off on a five-month-long solo trip to Tokyo to learn the traditional techniques of Japanese woodblock printmaking.

I have an independent streak in me but it wasn’t easy being alone in such a foreign place. Not being able to understand or converse with anyone was frustrating. I had to learn solely by watching.

Fortunately, I was there to learn a visual language.

A few weeks in, however, I got exceedingly desperate and called my husband to seek his guidance on whether or not I should call it quits.

Besides missing my new family, I was scared and couldn’t see how things were going to turn out. My husband’s council was: if you leave, you will end this opportunity.

Then, he made reference to wilderness survival.

I thought of my Outward Bound backpacking trip from years before. At the time, it was the hardest thing I had ever done – by far. I thought: if I can lift myself up by the tips of my fingers, dangling from a cliff, then I can do this. I get it.


Recently, an old friend of mine mentioned – despairingly and kind-of shaking her head – how she couldn’t believe I wore that dress at my wedding 23 years ago.

Why on earth does she even remember it?  Then again, her comment was an impetus for this narrative and my thoughts about veils.

A veil is something that conceals or separates, like a curtain. Maybe it’s translucent enough to see through, maybe it is as thick as fog. In any case, what is on the other side?

It’s that mystery that’s so appealing and beckoning.

You can’t always see how things will turn out, as often happens in life – including the creative process, voyages, marriages too. Dressed in all that fluffiness, did my husband know that behind that veil he was really marrying a bad-ass? (I think maybe he did.)


Whether alone or shared, extreme or mild, challenging or not, what I know for sure is that my experiences in nature continue to strengthen, inspire, and restore me.

On this day, canoeing on Mashagama Lake, the islands were veiled in morning fog.

We also saw a fogbow.

7 responses to “Making the Unknown Known: Veil”

  1. Patty Dykstra says:

    Beautiful print and lovely backstory. Amazing photo of fogbow. Did not know there was such a cool thing until just now. It’s exciting to see your new work!

  2. Marcia Perry says:

    Excellent post, Mary!

  3. Valli McDougle says:

    I love how you share about your inspiration for your prints, and also share your experiences. You are a very special, sensitive artist!!

  4. GERALD MULKA says:

    Thanks for sharing, Mary. It is nice to hear from someone who speaks art. I like you new pieces, inspiring me to make my next piece better than the last. Highlights of my year were working with you in February and a week with Linda Beeman at Interlochen.

  5. Vicki Jo VanAmeyden says:

    lovely writing – thanks for sharing. And a fogbow! never have seen one – uber cooool!

  6. Ann-Marie M Fleming says:

    Congratulations on the publication of your blog! As I read it, I sense that you enjoyed writing it. I enjoyed reading it, and can certainly identify with the feelings of panic when you strike out on a new venture. Do you feel like that when you start a new print? I feel that way when I start a new drawing. And now, I want to draw, print, paint. Want to replace scary, scarier, scariest with excited, more excited, most excited. Cheers!

  7. Hi Ann-Marie, Sometimes I feel panic when I start a new print, but it doesn’t last long. The important thing is to just start!

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