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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.

Picture
Abstraction, by Blanche Lazzell, 1932

 


Comments

12/05/2012 9:58am

Hi Kate,
We have met a couple of times through our mutual profession: printmaking(Bosotn Printmakers) and through NAA openings and print group of the NAA. I create reduction lino prints and been working outdoors painting plein air. Let's stay in contact through our blogs, shall we.
Love your woodcuts.
Best, Susan
http://reduction-print.blogspot.com/

Reply
01/28/2014 10:39pm

What a lovely blog you've created! We are neighbors, not just in the blogosphere, but in real life, too, both geographically and artistically. Now I know to keep an eye out for your beautiful white line prints on the North Shore!
jen
www.jennifergroeber.wordpress.com

Reply
Judy
02/08/2015 12:43pm

Hi Kate,
thank you for having a blog including white line woodcut. I'm working on one now and was wondering do you print very thin layers of watercolor that gradually add up and get darker or do you use a lot of pigment in your printing and therefore have a darker color with only one printing?
thank you for any help you can give me.
Best,
Judy
printmaker

Reply
Kate Hanlon
02/08/2015 6:38pm

Hi Judy,

I use Akua Kolor water based inks for printing. They are heavily pigmented (more so than regular watercolor, although those work as well.) I start with a medium-density application of my color, but I almost always add additional layers, in order to get the density of color that I'm going for. Often, I layer colors that are similar, say, a blue over a green, to add interest to the final color. You'll achieve a really rich color that way. And, sometimes I ink a shape selectively, maybe outlining an edge with a darker color, to emphasize the shape. You do have to let the print dry in between applications of color, as the paper can only absorb so much moisture before buckling or wrinkling. Best of luck to you on your print!

Reply
Christine H. M. Swartz
08/28/2015 5:20pm

Sorry....Wilkinson....Edith Lake

Reply
Marysia Turzanski Sholder
08/31/2015 9:43am

Dear Kate, I just happened to come across an HBO special on White Line Woodcut paintings. As a 52 year old artist from central PA with roots from here and Poland wood carving is a familiar subject for me. Recently I began creating block art prints from linoleum blocks onto muslin.

In June of 1982 I received my Associates Degree in Visual Communication/Design. After working in the hectic commercial arts field for far to many years I have venture back into my fist love, fine arts. Today was the first time for me to see a demonstration of this beautiful technique. My family heritage from both sides uses wood carving as traditional forms of expression.

Finding your site and a clear explanation of this art form have inspired me to try something new. Thank you so much.

Marysia

Reply
07/06/2016 1:00am

Hello Kate, as someone who has just begun to try his hand at white line watercolour woodcut printing I was really pleased to come across your blog. I do woodcut printmaking as well as work in many other mediums My new website/blog is a work in progress so only shows some of my very recent work - and not all I've done over the numerous decades of my life. My question about white line printing is am I correct in thinking that the paper does not (unlike when doing Japanese watercolour woodblock printing) have to be moistened and that it is sufficient to work with an absorbent paper? Thank you for any advice you can give, Norman

Reply
Kate Hanlon
07/07/2016 6:56pm

Hello Norman, Yes, you are correct; there's no need to dampen the paper. You just keep your application of ink moist, and don't let it dry out before printing. It's a delicate dance! I ink one (or two, if they are the same color) shape at a time, and then quickly print while the ink is still damp. Larger shapes can be problematic, as the water-based ink can dry before you've inked the whole shape. And if you make the ink too loose and watery, sometimes the paper will buckle if it can't absorb the moisture. So, it's important to design your image with an eye to its printability. Unevenness in tone can be remedied by building the image density with further layers of ink per shape. I use a fairly thick Japanese paper, which I love, but I'm sure that Western papers would work as well, especially the cotton fiber papers such as Rives BFK, etc. Experiment for yourself and see which you prefer! Best of luck with your white-line prints, and thanks for visiting my site!
Kate

Reply
Lorraine
10/03/2016 10:56am

Printing large areas can be easier if you first dampen the area with a brush wetted with water. The ink then added will be printed more evenly.
Lorraine

Reply
Kate Hanlon
10/10/2016 5:45pm

Great idea, Lorraine! Thanks for sharing.
Best,
Kate

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