Woodcut (5 color reduction)
5" x 8"(image) 7.5" x 11.5" (paper)
This is another drawing done at the Allens Lane Art Center figure drawing sessions. (First and third Tuesdays, more info here.) I had this piece of scrap wood sitting around so I took it with me and drew directly on the block. The block itself was sort of a mess. It had a tough knot and another area of tight, hard-to-carve grain, as well as an area with a smattering of nicks. After putting the drawing on the surface I decided to go with the flaws by emphasizing them and carving the figure in a way that she seems somewhat embedded in the block. I like the way the curved lines of grain echo the curves of her figure and the darkest area to the left of her shoulder imitates the shadows and folds in her body. The other dark area that runs vertical behind her arches neatly around her head as if she has recently emerged from some mysterious crevice beyond the curtain of woodgrain. At first I worried a little about the one hand that I cropped right out of the composition, but as I worked, that area of the grain eroded more easily under the wire brush, and so in the final product the woman's forearm is distinctly translucent as if she is reaching behind the curtain.
One thing I find that I enjoy about woodcuts that emphasize the grain is that they capture some of the beauty of the block itself. The drawing on the block, both before and after it is carved, is a uniquely beautiful image. But the print on the paper is the finished work. Whenever the grain of the block is brought out in the image it gives it an added sense of depth. Of course it also visually connects the onlooker to the artist's process, but it really works best when the grain works in harmony with the imagery, opposed to being just another texture present. Perhaps the greatest challenge I feel in including the woodgrain is the insecurity I feel when my drawings are integrated with such subtle, natural beauty. It puts on a lot of pressure to make a truly beautiful drawing.