Sunday, November 1, 2009

White-Line Woodcut Prints

copyright 2009 Hannah Phelps
Path of the Water
white-line woodcut print; watercolor on paper

So What is a White-line Woodcut Print Anyway?

Like any piece of art, a white-line woodcut print begins with an idea. In my case, I use the natural world as inspiration for a drawing on paper. This drawing is then transferred onto a piece of wood. With my lines visible on the surface, I carve an outline of the drawing with a knife. The carved lines will become the "white lines" in the final print.

The wood left untouched now stands in relief from the lines. I attach a piece of paper to the edge of the woodblock to ensure that the it lays on the wood the same way each time I place it against the block (this is called "registration"). I then "ink" each relief shape with watercolor and press and rub the back of the paper printing the image. Once all of the shapes are colored and I am satisfied with the image, I remove the paper from the block.

White-line woodcuts were first created in the early 1900's by artists in the Provincetown, MA colony and are therefore sometimes called "Provincetown Prints." While artist BJO Nordfeldt is credited with its invention, many of his contemporaries employed the technique, the most famous of whom was the American artist, Blanche Lazell.

To see some of my white-line woodcut prints in person, visit the eleven prints and one woodblock (including "Path of the Water," shown above) that are currently on display at Southern New Hampshire University in the Shapiro Library!


Erica Sontheimer said...

Thanks for that great explanation, Hannah. It sounds like a really fun and satisfying creative process.

Hannah Phelps said...

It is a wonderful and relaxing process, actually. I wish you could come see the show, but I will post images here on the blog for you!