Since I can remember, I have loved to draw. Although I could sit for hours with a pencil as a kid, it’s even more fun now that I have been practicing for years and have the skills to put on paper what dwells in my imagination, or what is right in front of me. Drawing what you see is much more challenging than from the imagination. The more you draw, the more your skills improve. But, I’ll get back to drawing in a moment.
feather on mahogany
In my last year of high school we lived in Tokyo, Japan – which was an awesome experience on many, many levels. One of the coolest aspects of life in Tokyo was learning about Japanese culture, arts, traditions, foods. Another wonderful experience for me was a particular art teach at The American School in Japan, Ki Nimori. From Mr. Nimori I learned a great deal about making pottery. Although a short school year had me barely scratching the surface on all I had to learn in ceramics, I loved it.
Not to get too ‘artsy’ on my dear readers, but I really enjoy the process of creating art. I have often gravitated toward art media that require a lot of steps before the final product… Working in clay requires many steps – and I loved them all. One of the early steps is kneading the clay to remove air bubbles – which is a lot like kneading bread dough. I enjoyed getting my hands dirty and working to create something from seemingly nothing. A great teacher inspires, that is what Ki Nimori was for me.
When I returned to San Francisco to go to college I chose an Art major. At first I thought I would concentrate on ceramics after such a wonderful experience learning from Mr. Nimori. I cannot explain how my bubble was burst by the ceramics department (at that time) at San Francisco State University. Unfortunately, it was somewhat overrun with macho teachers who did little to inspire me. And so I gravitated back to an early and lasting love, drawing. Throughout my education at SFSU I continually explored new and untried realms, eventually settling into a groove with printmaking. This media offered lots of process – from untold number of steps required in lithography to create a final print – to the comparatively simple process of making a woodblock or linoleum block print.
With printmaking I could combine my love of drawing with the incredible process needed to make prints. And with the added benefit of the ability to make multiple final images of one exact design. When I graduated college I was deeply into etching, and learning to create photo-etchings. This was wonderful because it meant I could also incorporate another love – photography. The only difficulty I found to hours spent creating etchings and lithographs was the need for a printing press and especially the exposure to caustic and nasty chemicals.
Since my college days I have simplified my process by doing mainly woodblock printing… Partly because I did not wish to bring the intense chemicals required to create etchings into my home… And because I really enjoy the organic nature of cutting into wood to produce a drawing – and the combination of wood grain with drawing in the final print is the icing on the cake. Visits to Japan fed my love of block (or relief) printing through exposure to Japanese woodblock printing, which is incredible and detailed well beyond the prints I create. I may need to write more about Japanese prints later… Until then, I hope you enjoy some of my creations!
cutting the ‘key’ block for raven pair