What’s the purpose of this blog?
Partly for me to record my progress learning a new technique and partly as a place for me to reflect on my art practice. I would say that 80% of the creative process for me goes on in my head. I tend to mull over ideas for weeks before actually putting anything on paper, card, zinc or wood; presumably this can be said for most artists to some extent. I do make a few notes in my sketchbook but they’re minimal.
The first thing I discovered about wood engraving was that it’s by no means as easy as it looks! Much more difficult than linocutting, not just because the matrix is harder, but because one is working on a much smaller scale. I very much admire the work of engravers such as Hilary Paynter and Jim Westergard and I suppose in my ignorance, I was aiming for that kind of neatness and detail straight away. Think again Jo. Obviously, to produce that kind of work takes years of practice and an innate talent that no amount of hard work can produce. So, here on this blog, you can see my humble, clumsy but well-intentioned beginnings.
I started off with a box of practice blocks; hence the odd shapes of some of my initial prints. I quite like that actually – gives another dimension to the work. Certainly I think it worked with Comedy and Tragedy (below in previous post).
Wood engraving (as any method of relief printmaking) produces very different results to etching. I’ve had to reorder my way of thinking about an image; instead of working from light to dark as one does with etching, drawing the darks onto the plate, I now have to work from dark to light, cutting out the lights from the dark of the block – if that makes sense. Also, the whole process of creating tone and texture is very different. The possibilities are endless with etching – with wood engraving, there seem to be many more constraints. And yet, look at Hilary Paynter’s Goblin Market or Jim Westergard’s The Artist as a Viking and you see that it can be done. First task then is to experiment with different mark-making techniques.