white line woodcut by Kate Hanlon
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.

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
The following is a step-by-step look at the techniques involved in the creation of a white-line woodblock print:
sketch in pencil for a white-line woodblock print
First, a sketch is made with pencil on the surface of the block. I use shina plywood, which I get from
Woodblock cutting tools
Tools of the trade: assorted V-gouges and an antique doorknob, which is used for rubbing the back of the paper. Its smooth surface and weight are perfect for use as a printing tool!
Closeup of a white-line woodblock
In cutting the block, there's always a degree of interpretation of the original drawing. Often, shapes are edited for ease of printing, or to improve the design.
white-line woodblock being cut
The block, partially cut. Case in point: here, I hadn't resolved the drawing of the column. I wasn't crazy about those curlicues at the sides, so I cut the rest of the block while I thought about that area.
white-line woodcut printing process
I've begun printing the block, brushing water-based Akua colored inks on the block, one section at a time. The paper is attached at its left-side edge with a strip of masking tape anchored by push pins. Between inking of shapes, the paper is lowered onto the block and rubbed (with that doorknob!) on the back to transfer the ink. I also place a sheet of waxed paper between the paper and my rubbing tool, to keep the print paper from getting dirty or tearing. You can see how I resolved the design of the column by simplifying it. Isn't simple always better? 'Tis a gift.
white-line woodblock print in progress
Getting there! You might think this part might be tedious and time-consuming (all those little shapes!), or you may choose to think of it as a meditation on color and form. Think zen.
closeup view of a white-line woodblock print showing woodgrain
The block itself asserts its own voice; striated patterns of the wood's grain lend their own charm to the design and add to the overall effect.
Closeup of a white-line woodblock print
I couldn't resist another closeup!
white-line woodblock print 20 x 24 still life
The finished print: Object of Desire #3: Turkish Bowl. Thank you for visiting!
Hello, and welcome to my blog! 

You may be wondering, after checking out my work, what is a white-line woodcut? White-line woodcut is a technique of relief printmaking made popular in Provincetown by artists such as B.J.O. Nordfeldt, Blanche Lazzell, Agnes Weinrich, Ethel Mars, and many others in the 1920s, '30s, '40s and '50s. There is evidence of white-line printing in Europe as far back as the 1500s, and yet the method continues to spark interest among contemporary printmakers. Unlike traditional woodblock technique, in which the artist or technician cuts away the area of the block around the drawing, leaving the design to print in relief as a positive, in this process, the design is inscribed by the cutting of v-shaped grooves, leaving the drawing in negative relief, which will not accept ink, resulting in the characteristic white line between the flat areas of the printed image.

The Process
First, a drawing is made, or transferred by various methods, to the surface of the woodblock. Then, the lines of the drawing are cut out with a sharp knife or v-gouge. Next, the artist securely attaches a sheet of absorbent printing paper to the block. One section at a time, the surface of the block is brushed with water-based ink, the paper is lowered onto the block, and the back of the paper is rubbed, transferring the ink to the paper. The paper is lifted away from the surface of the block in between inkings, and the process is repeated until the artist is satisfied with the desired color and density of the print. 

One of the medium's strengths is the beautiful effects possible with variations in type of wood, paper, ink, and printing pressure, but it is the touch of the artist's hand in scribing the drawing into the wood, combined with  luminous color, that gives these prints their expressive potential, resulting in unique variations upon a single theme.

Abstraction, by Blanche Lazzell, 1932