I was a printmaking major in college. I loved making prints, especially intaglio and lithography. These are the two most expensive processes, requiring presses, materials such as copper plates, etching tools, special printmaking papers. Owning or having access to printmaking presses was the most formidable stumbling block to continuing with my obsession. I ended up going back to school several years after completing my BFA to get a graduate degree in printmaking, in good part because I’d be able to use the equipment! After completing my graduate degree, however, I was back in the same boat–no access to equipment. I did do some work in silkscreen at this point and came to enjoy the process quite a lot. Somehow I never got around to doing much with the woodcut (relief) process.
Meantime, I gradually gravitated to painting. Over the years painting took over and became my main medium. And although it took a long time to “get over” printmaking, I’m very happy to be a painter.
However, whenever I see a exhibit of prints, it fires up my longing. Recently when I made a trip to Phoenix I visited the Gustave Baumann exhibit of woodcuts at the Phoenix Art Museum. His use of color and texture was amazing and gave me a new interest in relief printing.
I got the bug to try my hand at creating a woodcut as a result of seeing this show. Jim picked up some pine planks at the local Home Depot. I dug my woodcut tools out. I pulled out some nice Japanese paper I had on hand. I proceeded to start carving the wood. Did I plan? Well, no. I decided to work from a snapshot from Agua Caliente park from which I had just completed a painting. So I did some carving. I was ready to pull a print to see what I had so far. I fished out my brayers and Speedball woodcut inks. Alas, most of the inks were all dried up.
I was hot to trot. But I didn’t want to make the 45 minute drive into Tucson to pick up the appropriate inks. What an irritating interruption in the process this would be. So I decided to experiment with a variety of paints and other types of inks I had on hand. I played around with different combinations until the the tackiness of the ink as the brayer rolled across it sound right to me. I inked up the block and pulled the first color. And off I went. I think in the end, the woodcut has about 20+ colors. I ended up with an edition of 10 prints, which is about what I was aiming for.
And here is one of the prints.