Hi there, I’m Lyell Castonguay, a visual artist from Maine. I’ve been making woodblock prints for over ten years. Public institutions like the Art Complex Museum and the New York Public Library have collected my artwork.
I enjoy creating representations of animals, including my pet birds. I sometimes make a narrative scene involving animals. Other times, I personify my subjects or capture their spirit in an idealized form. Feel free to contact me to discuss your love for animals and discover more about my artistic process.
My fascination with animals started with a white dove named Snow. He lived to be 24 years old. Who would have thought a creature with hollow bones could live so long? He inspired me to look at the world outside my studio window.
What are wild animals doing out there? What hidden dramas are unfolding? My woodblock prints probe the depths of their secret lives. I’ve learned, among other things, that flamingos can stand unscathed in highly acidic water and snails can gallop when threatened. These intriguing facts enticed me to delve deeper.
I enjoy creating funny and playful images. Often, there’s an underlying ecological theme. One example is the impact of encroachment in my piece “New City.” Despite the tragic sight of wrens carrying their home away, the image has a prevailing sense of wonder. The viewer can witness these birds enduring despite losing their habitat.
It’s difficult to imagine a world without animals, but sadly, their populations are rapidly declining. A study by Cornell University researchers revealed that nearly 3 billion birds have vanished from North America and Canada since 1970. I create art to capture the natural beauty of animals and inspire others to take steps to appreciate and support conservation efforts.
My primary mode of expression is woodblock printmaking. Concepts begin as drawn sketches. I establish general spontaneous forms with ink using a dip pen and brushes. Sharpie and ball-point pens are also employed to draw ornate feather and fur textures.
I transfer the drawing to plywood and use Japanese-style hand tools to chisel around each drawn line. Larger and more complex compositions can take weeks to complete. Ink is applied to the woodblock’s surface using a rubber brayer. Proper application is essential: too much ink will fill in finely carved details, and too little ink will cause the finished print to look spotty.
I place fine art paper on the inked carving. An etching press applies even pressure, and the force transfers ink from the woodblock to the paper. The result is a finished woodblock print.
Follow along as I print my piece, Luna, in this feature video.
Art Complex Museum, Duxbury, MA
Aomori Museum of Art, Aomori, Japan
Archille Bertarelli Collection, Milan, Italy
The University of Michigan Art Library, Ann Arbor, MI
New York Public Library, New York, NY
Hampshire College Special Collections, Amherst, MA
Wheaton College Special Collections, Norton, MA
University Museum of Contemporary Art, Amherst, MA
EVAC Project, Owens Community College, OH
New England Printmakers, New Hampshire Art Association, NH
Life Aquatic, Pyramid Atlantic Art Center, Hyattsville, MD
Maine Open Juried Art Show, The Framemakers, Waterville, ME
Creative Edge Group Exhibition, Mitchell • Giddings Fine Arts, Brattleboro, VT
Print-Making an Impression, Hess and Leyt Galleries, Elizabethtown College, Elizabethtown, PA
Maine-Aomori Printmaking Society Retrospective, Lewis Gallery, Portland Public Library, Portland, ME
New Editions, Brumfield Gallery, Astoria, OR
10×10 Invitational, Pyramid Atlantic Art Center, Hyattsville, MD
Boston Printmakers North American Print Biennial, Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA
Carnegie Gallery, Columbus Metropolitan Main Library, Columbus, OH
Wolfe Gallery, Maumee Valley Country Day School, Toledo, OH
Mitchell Giddings Fine Arts, Brattleboro, VT*
American Frame, Maumee, OH
Ronald Reagan National Airport, Arlington, VA
Lord Hall Gallery, University of Maine, Bangor, ME
Mitchell Giddings Fine Arts, Brattleboro, VT
Riverviews Artspace, Lynchburg, VA
Chases Garage & Artists Studios, York, ME
Art Gym Denver, Denver, CO
Kittery Community Center, Kittery, ME
McGowan Fine Arts, Concord, NH
Imprint Gallery, Cannon Beach, OR
Blue Hill Art & Cultural Center, Pearl River, NY
Stephanie Tubbs Jones Gallery, Cleveland Hopkins Airport, Cleveland, OH
Diane Kidd Gallery, Tiffin University, Tiffin, OH
Muzeul National al Hartilor si Carti Vechi, Bucharest, Romania
Lyme Art Association, Old Lyme, CT
Deerfield Academy, South Deerfield, MA*
Editions/Artists’ Books Fair, New York, NY
Dedee Shattuck Gallery, Westport, MA
APE Gallery, Northampton, MA
Castle of Agliè, Turin, Italy
Seoul Museum of Art, Korea
York Art Association, York, ME
Fine Arts Work Center, Provincetown, MA
Loomis Chaffee School, Windsor, CT*
Western New England University, Springfield, MA*
Bromfield Gallery, Boston, MA*
Easthampton City Arts+, Easthampton, MA*
Salmon Falls Artisan Gallery, Shelburne Falls, MA
D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts, Springfield, MA
Northampton Center for the Arts, Northampton, MA
Rose Contemporary, Portland, ME
APE Gallery, Northampton, MA
Soo Rye Gallery, Rye, NH
A4 Printmakers, Cornwall, United Kingdom
Aberystwyth University, Wales, United Kingdom
Germantown Academy, Fort Washington, PA
Danforth Museum of Art, Framingham, MA
AWARDS & GRANTS
Best in Show, Maine Open Juried Art Show, Waterville, ME
Best in Show, York Art Association, York, ME
Solo Exhibit Grantee, Bromfield Gallery, Boston, MA
Massachusetts Cultural Council Grant, Boston, MA
Southern Graphics Council