Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Where White-lines Come From

Measure, Coast, my Strada easel and a plein air painting

Autumn is my favorite time to paint outdoors. On nice days, it is so hard to stay inside at a press or a worktable. Especially when the dogs can get some exercise too.

So I haven't been printing that much lately - I've been heading out to paint the ocean during my favorite month. But these paintings are the inspiration for new prints when winter swoops in and locks us all inside.

For example, this little painting:

Monhegan Wave Study, oil on canvas

Became this larger white-line woodcut print a few months later:

Most of the prints you've seen here originated from plein air paintings. As a matter of fact, last year's October paintings are fulfilling that purpose right now. If you want to watch the new jigsaw print come together, you can see videos and pictures on my instagram page.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Another Workshop Complete

 New carving tools**

Last weekend I taught another white-line woodcut workshop to a bunch of very nice, industrious students. This time, it was at the League of NH Craftsmen's headquarters in Concord, NH

I sorta forgot to take pictures of their work and I sorta didn't want to. I am sure they would have allowed me to post their new prints here, especially because they did some lovely work. I just have a hang up about it. I don't want people posting my work all over the place without careful thought and permission and that makes me extra cautious about others.

Anyway, each student finished two totally different designs and printed each one at least once. That meant they got to acquire some carving skills for the first block and then push themselves a little on the second one. And they each used two kinds of paper, which is always a good exercise.

They were a fun group and I hope they continue to print now that they have some new knowledge.

The next workshop has not been scheduled yet, but there will be at least one next year. If you want to make sure you know about it in time to sign up, subscribe to my monthly newsletter by clicking here and filling in your address. You'll get images of my work and photos of what I'm doing and a handy schedule. 

**When I show students the knife I use to carve white-line woodcuts, I point out that the handle was long when it first came and I had to cut it down to fit my own hand. I just ordered some new tools for the jigsaw reductions and I thought I'd show you the handles before I cut them.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Enjoying Prints without White-lines

Reflecting Pool at The Clark Art Institute

I recently visited The Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, MA to see an exhibit of Helen Frankenthaler's woodcut prints and paintings. 

You may know that Frankenthaler's woodcuts are a huge inspiration for me. If not, you can read a previous post about my first encounter with her work here.

It was a marvelous exhibit. I hadn’t seen any of her prints in person before and it was well worth the five hour drive round trip. 

Some of the prints were unbelievably luminous. The brilliance was partially achieved using printmaking techniques that she herself didn’t even know how to do. She worked with professional printers who turned her ideas into print editions. 

That is the traditional way of doing things, actually. All the famous Japanese woodcuts familiar to you were created by a team. Two names you know, Hiroshige and Hokusai, were painters who created images for a printmaking house, who employed specialized carvers, paper handlers and printers, to translate into prints.

In Frankenthaler's case, she pushed these printers to their limits with her ideas and forced them to invent completely new techniques to fulfill her visions. Many of these pieces took years of proofing, experimentation and failure before completion. According to books and museum tags, tempers were known to flare.

Standing before her imposing images, I couldn't always puzzle out how they were done even after reading a detailed description. 

Even though they are woodcuts. Even though they are jigsaws.

Instead of frustration, I feel energized by this. 

I've got some big ideas of my own and seeing hers in full lively color helped turn my hope into faith that they will be in my hands or on the wall sometime in the future. Even if I don't quite know how it will happen.

P.S. There was also an exhibit of a few of Frankenthaler's paintings in another building of The Clark. To get there, you "had to" take this wooded path.

Even thought the Frankenthaler exhibit is no longer on display, The Clark is a marvelous place and I recommend a visit!

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