The theme the past couple of weeks has been mountains! Mainly because of the beautiful places in the Pacific Northwest. This is a phone picture from a recent camping trip in the Opal Creek wilderness, and I have a lot more fairly similar pictures from places in and around the Willamette Valley. Having looked at these views (and bad cell phone pictures of them) most of my life, I decided I needed to learn to draw mountains and trees–a more daunting task than it sounds, trust me. First I did a smaller woodcut, about 3″ x 5″, shown here. But even with my micro Flexcut tools, which are seriously the most awesome woodcarving tools ever made, I can’t get much detail or texture in such a small block.So I decided to try a bigger block.
This is a roughly 2′ x 3′ hunk of plywood that’s been hanging around my studio for about four years. I don’t remember where the hell it came from, or what I originally intended to do with it, but it’s relatively unwarped and has a pretty sweet grain, so I’m guess I’m going to carve it. This is way bigger than I usually work, so we’ll see how it goes. It’s worth noting that this block won’t actually fit in my cylinder press–I’ll have to print it by hand with a baren when it’s finished, but that’s okay. I never expected to actually own a printing press, so I made sure to learn how to hand press before I graduated from school, thinking that would be my only option in the future.
Here’s the finished drawing. The foreground/background differentiation doesn’t look great, but I’m hoping I can smooth some of that out with the carving, making it a little more gradated. Unfortunately the carving process has been slow, in part due to a strained neck muscle and partly because of my dedicated studio cat, Rosie. Apparently my woodblock is a really good place to sit.
But fall weather is the best for printmaking in my opinion (and the best weather for anything else, period) so here’s hoping I’m able to get some serious carving in this week.