Color Woodblock Prints

pleasant bay

Pleasant Bay

This is my most recent prints, based on a watercolor that I did at Cape Split in Addison, Maine in August of 2015, sitting on the rocky beach as the tide came in. It was late in the day with amazing clouds.

I was a painter for over 30 years, and in 2007 took a workshop in Moku Hanga, Japanese watercolor woodblock printmaking, and fell in love with all parts of the process. Following two years of practice, color woodblock printmaking gradually replaced painting as my primary medium. The process is contemplative and low-tech with distinct steps: designing an image, carving the blocks and experimenting with colors while proof printing, refining the blocks and ink colors, eventually printing the image.

In my search for balance, energy, peace and connection to the earth, I spend as much time as possible out of doors, painting, hiking, cross-country skiing, kayaking, gardening and bird-watching in Massachusetts, Downeast Maine, coastal New Brunswick, Canada, and recently in Forida. This interaction with the natural world is the source of my inspiration.

I usually begin an image with sketches or paintings done on-site, and then simplify the design, focusing on the lines of movement and the essential shapes that define the image. After figuring out how many woodblocks are needed to separate the colors design, I transfer the images in reverse to woodblocks. On each block, I carve away areas that will not be printed leaving the raised (relief) image. I apply water-based paint and rice paste to the raised areas mixing them on the block. Then, I place dampened paper on the block, and rub it with a hand-held baren to transfer the impression. Multiple blocks are used, usually one for each color; overprinting two colors creates additional colors on the print. Usually I print the lighter colors first, and the darkest one last. I print some blocks with a Bokashi (gradation.)

I primarily use Rives, a 100% cotton French paper, but sometimes use handmade Japanese paper. All matting and framing materials are acid free and archival.

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I had a great Artist's Residency for the month of June at the Schoodic section of Acadia National Park this year. Did many watercolors of the surf, coastal views, rocks and views on little Moose Island, and forest scenes in the park, and some paintings at the nearby Corea Heath. I've started on one print and hope to have some prints done in September.

I paint numerous watercolors en plein air, during the warmer months, returning to favorite places each year. I favor the undisturbed landscape, usually nature preserves, state parks, wildlife sanctuaries, or “undeveloped” coastal areas. I am particularly drawn to Lubec, Cutler, Steuben, and Addison. Distinctive trees, crashing surf and rocks, bogs, boreal forests, marshes, and active skies are frequently my subjects. During the cooler months, I study these watercolors and select the ones that best capture the spirit of place to use as designs for woodblock prints.