Woodcut Prints


In my mid-twenties I put down my watercolors and focused in on a brush, india ink, and paper. My goal was to become a master of black and white- even grey tone was cheating. What came of that was ink work that was a cross between Asian essence and Germanic intention. Many artist friends said they looked already like woodcut prints. I resisted the idea, to carve them into a block, until I realized that the print is a perfect medium to go big. I bought plywood and laid out patterns from the original drawings.
The paper is two by two meter and is as thick as cardboard and soft as silk. I order it from a 450 year old paper making factory in Japan. Handmade from pure mullbery with a lovely deckled edge. My ink is water soluble but oil based. Each large woodcut print takes over a pound of ink. I print on the rough side of the paper. The non traditional side. After all my years in watercolor the thought of losing the rich, coarse natural pattern of hand built paper to the back of the art seemed nonsensical. To work with an uneven surface I was forced by the process to pile on the ink onto the matrix/ thus I print dry. It takes a crew of artists to pull a print. Two sheets of plywood are butted together and nailed to the floor to make the image as seamless as possible. We must work quickly, the ink dries fast. We lay the paper and stomp on the art to burnish the cut into the soft paper. Timing is everything. We look like ritual, or dance.
I’m obsessed with small, seemingly unrelated patterns in ordinary things. The rhythm in feet are an endless source of brush joy. The foot is the other portrait of the person, sometimes giving away personality one never sees in an emotionally trained face. And it is the same with Artichoke and Nest. Each object reveals intention. For Nest, it is the flying weaver planning for a season of babies. Artichoke, a dense hard spiky ball protecting a bundle of soft indigo, iridescent needles. This plant represents impervious tenderness. The best image lays between contradiction and harmonious form.

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