We’re not quite ready to share show pics from our Ex Libris exhibition as we still have some labels and show lettering to put up. Don’t worry, it’s coming soon! For now, enjoy Hannah Phelps’ artist statement, below. Hannah won last year’s National Small Works and will be exhibiting at WPG alongside this year’s show in August.
Plein air painting, working outside and on site, is the only satisfying way I know of holding on to a scene – essentially pocketing it for a later time. Working with the motion of the branches swaying in the wind or the surf continuously crashing into shore, I load up my memory with the soul of a place and transport it back home to the studio where I can print.
The simplicity of using plywood and one simple knife to create a white-line woodcut print is a challenge I cannot ignore. Using watercolor, I “ink” each shape and transfer the design to paper tough enough to take a firm rubbing with a wooden spoon. The resulting print is two-dimensional, but paper also digs its way into the white lines, adding a sculptural element. The block can be printed several times, but no two will ever really be alike, so each piece becomes a combination of print and original painting.
The rough woodgrain in these prints mimics their subject – the rocky coast or wild woods. Interlocking shapes create the scene, but they don’t fit together perfectly. The irregular white lines enhance the separation between me and my print, and me and my environment.
Taking this idea further, I started cutting the blocks into segments, inking them separately, reassembling them and running them through a press. These “jigsaw reduction reliefs” also have subtle white-line borders running through them at the edges of the puzzle pieces.
Because I often depict places I have visited my entire life, the work becomes about more than “capturing one moment in time”, as landscape artists often say, but instead capturing all the moments I have spent in that spot and synthesizing them into one painting or one print. Like the favorite painting spots themselves, however, certain compositions and ideas beg to be revisited over and over. The paintings direct the creation of the prints. While printmaking, I discover questions to answer the next time I head out painting.