Woodcuts are labor intensive. You produce one because an image has impressed you. Light and shadow has carved a pattern, texture has emerged from surface, the curve and highlight of a cheekbone has contrasted with dark hair behind it, and you felt an impact. Remembering the impression you realize you want to live with the image for a few months, commit it to wood and paper, and eventually have it on your wall. This is art: awareness, emotion, processing and re-creation.
Woodcut processing forces you to make small decisions, slowly. It allows you to work with color, and with surface coverage in a dry way, so that edges remain hard and contrasts severe. Woodcut allows you to repeat the image, running off 10 or 20 copies, which feels powerful.
Work in the woodcut medium is like writing a computer program. You control, only indirectly, what the output will eventually be. You decide presence or absence (0 or 1) for each color, for each pixel of wood. Printing is the running of the program, and at the end, as you pull the paper from the last plate, The image is there—showing, when successful, the drama that you detected when you first saw the physical event.
Printing feels like magic. A yellow layer is straight forward. Red printed on top offers reds, yellows, oranges and white. They are the color you've layed out, and look as you expect. Add the blue layer, however, and the picture changes to full color. Not just the colors of your ink are there (red, yellow and blue) but colors that you didn't lay down emerge as well—browns and golds, black and assorted greens. The richness emerges, a whole greater than the sum of its parts.
Copyright 2015-16, Craig Mindell, All Rights Reserved