On November 22, WPG member artist Linda Rose Larochelle presented a talk and demo on relief block printing to the Mclean Art Society. Below, you will find a summary of the well-attended session, as well as some photos from the event.
First, I covered the history of relief block printing. This kind of printing is the oldest form of printmaking and really began in around 105 A.D. with the invention of paper in China. Paper was used to make rubbings from stone images and later woodcuts were developed. The earliest surviving woodcut from China dates from 868 A.D. It is an 18-foot scroll that contains text and images carved on one block which illustrate Buddhist sutras. The images are meticulous, detailed and fascinating. The scrolls, which survived because they were hidden in a cave, reflect highly developed artistic craftsmanship. They also reveal that this kind of printmaking was probably going on since the invention of paper in 105 A.D.
The talk also covered Albert Durer (who turned printmaking into a real art form), Paul Gauguin, Edvard Munch, the German expressionists, Picasso’s development of reduction prints, and the white line wood cuts developed in Provincetown, Massachusetts in 1915.
The materials and process of relief printing were covered and the group watched as I pulled several prints by hand without a press. Participants came up afterwards to try their hand at carving blocks.