I'll be presenting a workshop at ConcordArt in Concord, MA from June 20-22, 2017: White Line Woodblock Printmaking and Beyond. Come to beautiful Concord and learn first hand about the art of the traditional white line woodcut, from design to cutting and printing. Stop there, if you're a traditionalist, or take it to another level, if you like, by experimenting with creative block cutting and inking methods, adding textured woodblocks and/or stencils for a collage effect, or adding another block, for a multi-layered approach.
The Lamb, my woodcut monoprint (2015) was recently accepted to the 36th Bradley International Print and Drawing show, at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois. The show will run from March 11 through April 27, 2017, with a Visual Voices Lecture by juror Kathryn Polk, on March 9th.
My white line woodcut, Roof Shovelers, was accepted to the Member's Juried II, on view at ConcordArt in Concord, Massachusetts now through March 26th.
I will also be presenting a demonstration of my white line technique at ConcordArt on Wednesday, April 26, 2017, from 10:30 to 12:30. I'll begin by giving a brief overview and history of the development of the medium, and then take the audience through the process of creating a print, from design, transfer of drawing to the block, cutting and printing. I'll also show examples of creative inking, and show examples of white line prints that have been combined with line blocks to create multilayered color images.
Witch Hollow, my small white line woodcut, will be included in an exhibit at the Boston Athenaeum entitled New England on Paper: Contemporary Art in the Boston Athenaeum's Prints and Photographs Collection (April 6 through September 27, 2017). The public is invited for free to the show's opening on Wednesday, April 5th from 5:30-7:30 p.m.
The Customs House Maritime Museum, in Newburyport, Massachusetts is hosting their inaugural New Perspectives Benefit Art Auction on October 8th, 2016. The museum hosted a visit from the Spanish tall ship El Galeon this summer, and invited artists to create their own interpretations of the ship. This is my new print, a white line woodcut which I then overprinted with a linoleum key block. It depicts El Galeon docked in Newburyport harbor, with the Customs House on the left, and the steeple of the First Religious Society, and very recognizable Newburyport skyine landmark, on the right. The auction will be held in a waterfront tent, part of a gala event at the museum. Tickets are still available!
The Print Club of Cleveland is hosting it's annual Fine Print Fair this coming week at the Cleveland Museum of Art. My work will be represented there by Paramour Fine Arts of Franklin, Michigan.
This is an opportunity for the public to visit, learn about prints and printmaking techniques, and purchase fine prints from print dealers who hail from all over the US. The museum uses proceeds from the event to add to their esteemed collection. Please stop by, if you're in the area!
The Boston Printmakers' most recent call for entry for a member's show is for political prints; a broadly inclusive theme which is wide open to interpretation. I don't usually air my political views in my art, but there is a strong tradition of using the graphic media to call attention to social and political issues, and I rose to the challenge. Here is my new woodcut monoprint, The Refugees, and my artist's statement, below. The exhibit will be on display at Lamont Gallery at Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire from Nov.1 through Dec. 10, 2016. The show opens Nov. 4, 2016, 5-7 p.m.
Imagine for a moment that our country is at war, within our own borders. Bombs explode in the street outside your door. You fear for your life and the lives of your loved ones. Life as you’ve known it is now impossible. You must leave in order to survive.
Where will you go?
How will you get there?
Who will you take with you?
What will you take with you that can be carried in your two hands?
If you make it to your destination, will you be welcomed?
How will you survive in your new country?
There are so many unknowns. So many people suffering inhumane conditions in their countries of birth. We Americans can feel immune from the type of strife that we observe in fleeting media images, but we are not immune. It could happen to us. Saving one life saves us all; we are all part of the same human family.
All in the same boat.
An edition is understood to be the total number of prints taken from a printing matrix, usually printed at the same time. Here is a quote taken from the International Fine Print Dealers Association (IFPDA) website regarding the numbering of editioned prints:
"While the numbering of individual impressions can be found as early as the late nineteenth century, it did not become standard practice until the mid-1960s. Before steel-facing and other ways of preserving plates for longer print runs, the order in which the edition was printed was important. An intaglio plate, especially one containing drypoint lines, will degrade over time as the pressure of the press will dull the burr. As a result, the first impression is often crisper than the last and in turn, the edition should be numbered in order. Today, all limited edition prints should be numbered, and because of advancements in technology and a printer’s ability to print reciprocal, identical images, the numbering sequence is no longer intended to reflect the order of printing. Numbering is now transcribed as a fraction with the top number signifying the number of that particular print and the bottom number representing the total number of prints in the edition. The edition number does not include proofs, but only the total number of prints in the numbered edition."
This is all well and good, as long as we're talking about editionable fine art prints such as etchings and lithographs. However, white line woodcuts are really quite a different animal. Though technically they are "printed" from a block, each print, having been painstakingly painted shape by shape and color by color, is as unique as a fingerprint. For many years, I worked as a professional printer for other artists of reputation, and my goal was to match a "bon a tirer," (or proof that the artist approved for me to match) to no more than about a 3% variation from the original artist's proof. The goal of white line printing is about as opposite to that as possible! It's all about freedom of expression. The white line prints are more like paintings or monoprints; variation in color and density is cause for celebration, not condemnation.
Considering the unique nature of the genre, I've seen a few different methods of numbering the white line prints. As for myself, I began simply to number each print sequentially (No. 1, No. 2, etc.) that I printed from a particular block. Only recently, a print dealer asked me to state a limit to the number of prints that I'd take from a block, and suggested 25 as a reasonable number. This is driven by the consumer, who wants to know that his investment will not be "diluted" by the possibility of an unlimited number of impressions in circulation. When you think about the amount of labor required to produce one print, however, 25 is terribly optimistic! I've begun to number my prints 1/25, 2/25, etc., but I may not live to complete that number, especially of some of my larger pieces. I'm keeping good records, but I have many blocks, and really am more interested in creating new images than in slavishly reproducing a successful "copy" of an image. Even Blanche Lazzell only produced 4 or 5 prints of each of her blocks. Of course, she didn't have the internet to help market her work, but the point is that she was more interested in variation of color in her individual prints. At any rate, she came up with her own numbering system:
"When the artist began her record book, she devised a unique numbering scheme for keeping account of her prints. Lazzell listed these numerals in her catalogue and wrote them on the woodcuts, often in each of the four corners of the image on the verso of the sheet. The inscriptions have long baffled collectors, since they look like transposed edition numbers. Lazzell’s bipartite catalogue numbers resemble fractions. Their first number—in the numerator position—represents the woodcut in the sequence of all of Lazzell’s white-line prints, functioning something like a musicologist’s opus number. The digits behind the slash—in the denominator position—number the impressions from a particular block. Soon the artist began to inscribe each print in detail with its title, her catalogue number, when the block was cut, and where and when the impression was printed." http://provincetownarts.org/magazine_pdf_all/2004_pdf_files/2004Lazzell.pdf
So, you might see a Blanche Lazzell numbered (on the back) thus: 154/3, which meant that it was her 154th block, and the third print taken from that block. It worked for her. Interesting to note that she often signed her prints within the image, as painters do. “The wood block print has the same rank in art as any other medium or form of expression," she wrote. And I can only agree.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I recently took part in the fourth annual Wet paint event in beautiful Essex. Though the town is full of scenic vistas, I'm attracted to the forms and content of the authentic shipbuilding yard, now turned into a working museum of shipbuilding. Visitors may learn about how ships were built in the olden days, and continue to be built today, using much the same technology. In fact, I play fiddle on occasion, aboard a schooner out of Gloucester, MA, the Thomas Lannon, which was built in this yard approximately 20 years ago. It's delightful to be a part of two living traditions: music and boats!
The woodcut I produced this year is a view of the Waterline Center, an old boat shed where visitors are now welcomed. I got permission to sit in Burnham's front yard, which faces the buildings on the museum grounds. And, in a play on words, the yellow sloop in the foreground is showing its waterline, as the tide is out, and the boat was sitting in mud.
Portsmouth, New Hampshire is just a short jog north along the coast from where I live. Recently, the NH Art Association hosted their first Wet Paint event there, and I was delighted to participate. The town is picturesque, with antique houses, boats in a harbor; a lively New England small city with many suitable scenes to draw. The south end of town is particularly pretty, even on a grey day. A surprisingly bright yellow lobster boat rested on the far shore of an inlet, opposite the town boat launch, so I set up there. That scene is probably the most-painted view in town, but it was new to me! And, the color yellow has particular resonance for me now; it was my mother's favorite. She died last fall, but whenever I see yellow, I can't help but think of her. Her life was not an easy one, but she maintained an optimistic attitude even through the toughest of times. I do believe that our spirits transcend time, distance and matter, and I feel her presence, and miss her a bit less, when I get a little "yellow hello" from Mum.
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of participating in a Wet Paint event, on the 10th anniversary of my first event of this type, right in the same town! On this day, artists from around the area descended upon this scenic seaside village, scoped out likely spots to paint, and worked throughout the day. An exhibit is usually held the following day, or sometimes, works are auctioned off that evening, to benefit a local cause. This event's artworks will be on display at the King Hooper Mansion in Marblehead through the weekend.
The weather was perfect! I find it an exciting challenge to create one of my white-line woodblock prints from start to finish in one day; there are more steps to this process than most plein air artists have to contend with. And, works created on the spot like this tend to be freer and fresher than more studied, studio works. Fun is the order for the day!
I headed down to the waterfront, and was welcomed at the Boston Yacht Club. Luck! Young sailing students were just departing the dock, the boats and sails making wonderfully graphic, colorful shapes against the water. I grabbed pencil and paper, and made some quick sketches. Often, it's those moments that pass in a flash that make the most lasting impression. Sometimes, something we see resonates with meaning in a much bigger way than at first glance. My 18 year old son, Charlie, just graduated high school, and I'm still learning to let go. I have to trust that he'll find his own way, that the winds will be fair, the waves not too high, and that he'll always be able to navigate back safely to home port.
Anyway, from there, I returned to my studio on wheels: my 2008 Subaru Forester, where I transferred the drawing in reverse onto my block, using carbon paper. I then cut out the lines of my drawing with a sharp knife, attached a piece of Washi paper to the block, and began painting the shapes, one at a time, then folding the paper down over the block and rubbing the back to transfer the color, building by layers. When the print was completed to my satisfaction, I removed the paper from my block, signed the print, and framed it for display. See below for my result!
More Wet Paint events coming soon:
July 18, 2015 Portsmouth, NH
August 15, 16 Essex, MA
Away We Go, white line woodcut , 2015, 13" x 9 3/4"
In the Boston area, where I live, we've just survived the snowiest winter on record, with a total of 110.3 inches (so far). Several storms brought life to a halt, with officials advising us to stay home, and off the roads. The heavy snow piles up on rooftops, and as it begins to melt, ice dams form on the edges of roofs, causing water from the melting snow on the roof to seep into the houses, damaging ceilings and walls. One of the only ways to prevent this from happening is to get up there and shovel off the snow.
This is my view of my neighbor's house; her son and a friend taking care of that chore. I was happy to watch them from my cozy spot indoors, cup of tea in hand, and found inspiration for a new white line print. The way the snow silhouetted their shapes and changed the landscape, the angles of the roofline, the contrast between white snow and black roof, and the theme of "man against nature" all contributed to my idea. Have you seen the white line print Blanche Lazzell made of her Provincetown studio in winter? Such effective use of white space! Simple and beautiful.
Blanche's own words to describe the process are "Originality, Simplicity, Freedom of Expression, and above all, Sincerity, with a clean cut block, are characteristics of a good woodblock print." Thanks, Blanche, for inspiring so many of us.
I shifted the perspective a bit in my print, below, as I wanted to show things from a more precarious position, as if the viewer is up on the rooftop, too! And the Mom in me put some long pants and winter boots on the guy on the right; why do young men feel immune to the cold? Shorts and sneakers in February?! A bit of artistic license.
What's outside your window? What inspires you?
Roof Shovelers : 11 7/8" x 11 7/8" , 2015