07 July 2021

For My White Line Students - V. 2

Here are a few examples of white line prints to help students prepare images for the White Line Woodblock workshops that I teach. Hopefully this will give you a sense of what is possible with this method and help you as you prepare your drawings.

The white line woodblock method was founded in the early 1900s in Provincetown, Massachusetts, by a group of artists who were interested in Japanese printmaking but grew tired of the tedium of cutting a block of wood for every color as that method demanded. These Provincetown artists, including Blanche Lazzell and Edna Boies Hopkins, developed a way to make a polychrome print from a single block of wood.

Monongahila by Blanche Lazzell

Canoes (Swift Water) by Edna Boies Hopkins

In the white line method, a simple line drawing is incised on the block with a knife or gouge creating v-shaped cuts, which become white lines when printed.

A white line carving in process
Colors, usually watercolor pigments, are then applied to the carved areas with small brushes, one area at a time, and a hinged piece of paper is flipped over onto the damp paint to receive the impression, whihc is taken with a spoon or other burnisher.

Printing in process

Below is a gallery of white line prints showing a range of the kinds of prints that can be made with this method. Note that although white line woodcuts have historically been figurative, since they are drawing-based there is no reason why they cannot be as abstract or expressive as any other form of drawing. Your sketch just needs to be simple enough to transfer to a block by tracing with carbon paper. (Or you can draw directly onto the block.)

B.J.O. Norfeldt, who is said to have invented the method in 1915

Edith Lake Wilkinson, who may have actually invented the method in 1914 (see the documentary Packed in a Trunk)

Mabel Hewit

Ada Gilmore (Chaffee) - a particularly painterly application of color

Florence Cannon, active in the 1940s

Karl Knaths, a Provincetown artist

Kathryn Smith, a contemporary artist with family ties to the original Provincetown Printers

William Evaul, a contemporary Cape Cod artist who has taken white line VERY large

Ray Heus, another contemporary artist with ties to Cape Cod. Ray also does mokuhanga printmaking

Joseph Vorgity

Katherine Lovell, a Rhode Island painter and printmaker

Four works by Annie Bissett that all use the same block matrix, just with different colors (plus some toner transfer)


Dusty said...

Nice to see you!

Curt said...

Thank you. I was just thinking of your writing and how I've missed reading about the thoughts behind your work.

Annie B said...

Hi Dusty, Hi Curt! You all really know how to make a gal feel welcome :) Thank you. Nice to see you again.

Kit said...

Thank you for your good summary of this technique. It kind of reminds me of pochoir stenciling technique. Great variety of examples!