Wednesday, March 1, 2017

White-line woodcuts - A Love Story

 White-line woodcut progression

The very first time I saw a white-line woodcut, I fell instantly in love.

I think I knew it, but I didn’t believe it was happening. Is it really possible to fall in love with an art-making method?

Here is what happened and you can decide:

When I had happily been painting for about a decade, I signed up for a printmaking class. I don't remember why - maybe I wanted to understand printmaking terms better on museum trips, maybe I had extra time and money lying around, maybe a little angel whispered in my ear.

During the next several weeks, the other students and I worked our way through monotypes, collagraphs, etching, screenprints, solar plates, and, one fateful night, reliefs.

At the beginning of that evening’s class, the instructor showed us blocks and examples of block prints other students had created. She also shared a small book about Blanche Lazzell, a white-line woodcut artist. The teacher had a white-line block with some paper attached to it that she had been using as a demo for years. Using watercolor and a wooden spoon, she added another petal to her flower design right in front of us.

I had a little linoleum block and I was carving a small still life, but I had a real hard time focusing. Every few minutes, I would put down my Speedball carving tool and made my way across the room to look at the Blanche Lazzell book. Then I would scold myself to get back to work and return to carving my little block.

All night long, the book and the instructor’s block called to me like a Siren and I didn’t finish my linoleum carving that evening.

If I dreamt of white-line woodcuts that night, I don't remember it. What I do remember is that I leapt out of bed at 5:30 the next morning (not my usual get up time), and rushed around gathering a small piece of spare plywood, a utility knife and a crusty water color set. I quickly drew a small design loosely based on mountains in winter, transferred it to the paper, carved it, inked it and printed it. 

Before breakfast, I had created my first white-line woodcut start to finish.

Since the night white-line woodcuts and I fell in love with each other, I have met other obsessed souls. There is something unique and special about them. 

Maybe you have already fallen in love... 

Maybe you would like to see what power this medium holds over those of us who are under its spell. 

Either way, you could find out if this is for you by signing up for my workshop! It is in May in Manchester, NH.

Find out more by clicking here!

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