Wednesday, April 1, 2009


This is a woodblock print that I did of a garden shed. I watercolored the printed image after the ink had dried. I enjoy carving into wood and have also taken wood carving classes. I enjoy making folk art items mostly because you can make mistakes and there is no real way to tell that they are "mistakes". With folk art, rustic or primitive is the "right" way to do things. I think that is what appeals to me about it. The ability to make it my way.

It seems that wood has been on my mind lately since we have been cutting up a few oak trees that split and had to be taken down in front of our house. We are almost done, fortunately, because it is really hard work. We almost have all our firewood for next year already in the woodshed. So, we won't have to work in the stifling hot weather of the summer. That is a really good thing.

Wood is a wonderful medium. I love how resilient it is. There are so many kinds of wood and each has a plus or a minus, depending on what you decide to use it for. Take pine for instance. Pine is great for framing a wall or even using as siding but it has too much pitch to actually use inside a fireplace or a wood stove. Madrone is a beautiful red wood and very hard. We use it inside our wood stove because it burns really hot but it is not a good wood to carve things out of. For carving I like to use bass wood because it is so soft and easy to carve. You can get great details in bass wood. We have redwood on the inside of our house on the walls in the living room. It is kind of dark (which is the negative part) but it is rot and insect resistant (which is the positive side). When I do my woodblock prints I like to use birch plywood. It is soft and easy to carve into and it is light weight also. The grain is tight so it prints on the press easily and sometimes I don't even use a press. I was taught by my Professor in college to "do the mashed potatoes!". Do any of you remember that dance? Well, you just twist and turn and stomp around until the image is printed on the paper. I put mats down to help with the process. I also like to just use a barren and a lot of hard pressing with my hands. I use circular motions and it takes a long time to get the ink to transfer to the paper but there is nothing like a hand-printed woodblock print. Nothing!!

So, this print of the garden shed is hanging on my wall (painted WOOD wall to be exact) and it is something that really speaks to me. I love all the flowers that I carved into it, the vines crawling up the building, the stones leading into the red door, and the trees that break the barrier into the border of the print. It gives the piece some tension and I like to show a bit of tension in my work. I often do something a bit quirky on the margins or at the bottom or top of a piece. There is a lot of thought that goes into the format of a piece no matter what medium I am using.

Making pieces of art takes lot of thought. I would think that most of the time spent on a piece is contemplating the layout, the color choices, the format, the medium, what kind of paper to use, what image to incorporate, etc. I think the actual process usually comes easy once the thought process is clear. The piece usually just flows once all the hard thinking is done. At least that is me. I ponder my art for quite some time. I enjoy the process and I even enjoy the failures. One time (because you have to carve woodblocks in reverse) I carved an entire block and then printed it only to realize that the image I wanted was in reverse. It didn't look bad that way and if I wasn't trying to represent a specific place it wouldn't have even mattered. But, it was for a friend who owns a nursery and flower garden and she would know that everything was reversed. So, back to the drawing (carving) table I had to go. I still have not finished that piece. Sometimes the mistake puts me on hold until I am ready to fix it and start over again.

It is a learning process that's for sure. But, for every mistake I make I probably learn two new things that I can apply later on. And, for me that is what keeps me coming back to it. I love to learn new things. I even went back to college and received my BA in Art late in life. I was 52 when I walked the stage with all the 20 year-olds! And, it didn't bother me at all! I was so proud of myself to accomplish something that I wanted just for me. Some day I am returning to get my Masters Degree. I will never be too old to learn.

1 comment:

  1. i love wood prints, and this is really beautiful. it's inspiring to hear you got your ba at 52, congratulations! i'd love to go back and finish college at some point. not having the degree hasn't prevented me from having a career, so it would just be for the joy of learning new things.


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