It’s funny how, say for example you talk to someone about a red car and then for days, all you see is red cars, no matter where you turn. Well that selective process of identifying the things that capture our thoughts and imaginations has taken a firm hold of me in regards to woodcuts, woodblock prints, relief prints, everything and anything to do with this medium of expression and art.
About a year and a half ago, I was looking for new and interesting design ideas for illustrating cd artwork. My interests were sparked when I looked back as far as Eric Gill. I ended up going further back, back to Albrecht Durer and was amazed at the history, the skill and craftsmanship and a whole lineage of art I’d never heard of or been taught about in my years of regular schooling.
These days I wonder what it would be like to go to art school and learn about woodcut prints but I know I don’t have time to stop and formally learn how to do… what I’m already too busy doing. When I set this blog up in June, I didn’t personally know anyone who was doing this. In a few short months I’ve discovered a handful of people in my town who dabble and create woodcuts, I’ve found a history of people from Australia who made wonderful work (Margaret Preston, Thea Proctor, Adelaide Perry, Cressida Campbell), joined a printing collective and scrolled through dozens and dozens of amazing blogs filled with inspiring work from people dotted all over the globe.
I also recently joined a woodblock forum called Barenforum, an extremely interesting if not slightly bamboozling forum to someone as novice as myself – what with talk of various techniques and multiple block colour schemes and such. Baren however did recently lead me to have my first international sale of one of my prints. That was really exciting for me.
My latest discovery is an artist named Lynd Ward. He was an American Artist who came to prominence in the 1930s with his wordless woodcut novels. I have been overwhelmed with options of late of what to do next, what to learn and what direction to take. Should I do traditional Japanese prints in multiple blocks, should I try reductionist prints, woodblock etchings etc. I’ve felt overwhelmed until a few weeks ago when I finally found Lynd Ward.
I just got these books recently and I know that this is the direction I want to take myself in. This to me, and my way of seeing things, is my high-water mark, this is where I want to strive to get to. I’m going to stick to single block images for a while and try to improve my skills. At the moment, just trying to empty the contents of my brain onto various woodcuts is taking almost all of my spare time and I’m really enjoying it.
Funny enough, I don’t want to put up everything I’m doing because that will leave nothing when it comes time to show people in my town in a gallery. That said, I’m proud of what I’m doing and I want people outside of my town to see it. A few weeks back I finished a woodcut that was my tribute to technology. In the same vein, I finished another technological favourite of mine at the start of last week, the Hot Rod.
and a few days later I did a North Queensland Palm cockatoo. Easily the most interesting and entertaining of birds I’ve ever come across.
Today I’m starting the view from my worktable, the place I do all of my carving at. After that? Who knows, I’ve got about another four blocks in the planning stage at the moment. I honestly don’t think I’ve felt this driven at any other time in my life.