I'd like to share some of the beautiful block prints created by the participants in last weekend's blockprinting class sponsored by the North Cascades Institute. Some of the students had done block printing in previous art classes, but for others this was their first experience with the medium. Others had been dissatisfied with previous attempts but all were interested in developing their designs to suit the bold, positive/negative imagery this medium offers. We had two days to work in the spacious studio at The Mountaineers Center on Sand Point Way in Seattle. The work testifies to the time and focus invested in the design, carving and printing of the blocks. Special thanks go to Katie Roloson, the program director for the Institute, and Frank, the facility manager for the Mountaineers Center.
The first project was to design a small block using a leaf motif placed diagonally with mirrored positive and negative. As a pattern-making rubber stamp, this block served as a solid blank (the back) for printing a base layer. The carved surface was then printed on top. Each leaf block (some cut other motifs for this piece) was rotated to create a pattern of multiples. We used pigment-based stamp pads.
For the second project (a block of 4" x 6"), each student selected his or her own subject matter. On the left, a study of heads of garlic seems ideal as a carved subject. On the right, the whale is rendered in a more traditional illustration style with borders. The artists had the option of tinting their oil-based inked prints with watercolor or leaving them uncolored. The ink used was black, oil-based relief printing ink formulated for rolling on the carved surface of the block with a brayer.
The slug image is shown here on the left before the entire background texture was removed by the artist. The final print had a spare, strong appearance (sorry, I didn't photograph the finished image). The octopus, by another student, stretches dramatically across the 4" x 6" surface.
This graceful ginkgo leaf composition is especially enhanced by the addition of watercolor tinting.
A sea turtle commemorates a trip to the Galapagos by Katie Roloson, program director at NCI. The chanterelle mushrooms on the right are shown in a nocturnal setting next to their host tree trunk: a Douglas fir.
Many thanks to all of the nature-loving artists who took the workshop!