Wood Engraving – Take One

Tried my first wood engraving last night. It was like learning how to walk again. I had no illusions going in — even though I’m a veteran with at least a couple hundred linocuts to my credit, I was dealing with an opponent of a different sort.

I’m a long way from becoming one with the tool. Wood engraving is tremendously difficult, and its inherent precision reveals every flaw in the art, aside from lack of experience with the gravers. I knew this would be a big leap from lino, but… whoa!

I started with a fairly challenging subject, a face… my face, in fact.

I washed the endgrain maple block with India ink, and sketched the image on with graphite pencil.

I started cutting with the burin, in the background top right, trying different effects and trying to get a feel for the medium.


Sorry about the blurry image.

I actually like this version in progress better the the finished. Sometimes art is about knowing when to stop. However, my goal was to cover the block and test my “legs”, so to speak.

Next, I changed up to a different tool, one that can cut curves, and it became my tool of choice for the balance of the job.

The Spitsticker

And the results:

I wanted to leave the eyes dark — very spooky — but Holly didn’t like it. In fact, she said it looked like I was wearing sunglasses. So, drawing with a graver, the final effort ended up thus:

Well, ya gotta start somewhere.

Explore posts in the same categories: Block Printing, Wood Engraving

5 Comments on “Wood Engraving – Take One”

  1. “It’s a Picasso!”

  2. John Steins Says:

    Are you using boxwood or maple?

    Anyway, I like it because of your very uninhibited approach to this sometimes scary medium.

    Paul Landacre was an accomplished wood engraver who championed this “sporting” attitude by not slavishly following a drawing but allowing the graver to “speak”.

    Keep up the good work!

    • Hi John, and thanks. I checked out your site… impressive work!

      I did it on a small piece of engrain maple… I know a wood turner who did up a few pieces for me. I also have a block of resingrave queued up. We’ll see how that goes.

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