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Posts tagged ‘Woodcut’

New Woodcut: Boats in the Porto Santa Lucia, Naples

Introducing my new (and second) woodcut print: Boats in the Porto Santa Lucia. Like my first woodcut completed earlier this year, my second is inspired by the incredible Christmas trip I took with my partner across Italy, from Venice, to Rome and ending up finally in Naples. 

This woodcut was inspired by our first morning in Naples when, with the sun shining a surprisingly summery warmth upon us, we headed down to the city’s Mediterranean port and were bowled over. Of course we’ve all heard of Naples’ bigger industrial port, but just around the coast, in front of the upmarket Santa Lucia region and around the Castel dell’Ovo is a beautiful little marina full of all of the shiny white yachts, fishing boats and other marine paraphernalia you would expect. 

Boats in the Porto Santa Lucia, Naples (2014 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, woodcut (3 plates) printed on fabriano)

Boats in the Porto Santa Lucia, Naples (2014 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, woodcut (3 plates) printed on fabriano)

I was unsurprisingly obsessed by the water there and all of the brightly coloured ripples reflected from the boats and the harbour walls. This woodcut is an attempt to capture them. It’s a multi-plate print which means that a number of plates are cut and combined to introduce different colours into the print. Below are shots showing a print of each coloured plate individually, which combined together really bring the work to life. You can also see the plates set out alongside the inks and rollers in the printmaking studio, as well as a series of prints hanging up to dry – editioning is tiring stuff!

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This is now my second woodcut and my seventh print since I started printmaking last Spring. I can say without hesitation that I now consider myself to be as enthusiastic a printmaker as a painter and I can’t wait to make more! 

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at www.delacy-brown.com

Nicholas de Lacy-Brown’s new solo exhibition, When (S)pain became the Norm, will be at London’s Strand Gallery from 13 – 18 May 2014. For more details, click here.

London’s homage to print: Part 1 – Chiaroscuro woodcuts

Printmaking is seriously in vogue right now. Whether it be etchings, lithography, linocut or woodcut, prints have seen a huge upsurge in popularity in recent years. This is partly down to the financial crash, which for so many middle-income art collectors meant that the 3-figure price-tags attached to prints suddenly became a much more attractive method of collecting quality images. But it’s not just about cost. Printmakings’ return to prominence also recognises the unique quality and character which is inherent in each of the print mediums, whether it be the fine lines of etching, or the watery translucence of lithography.

And as if further confirmation of this renewed popularity were needed, London is currently showing two blockbuster exhibitions which explore the medium of print in all its rich and versatile brilliance: David Hockney: Printmaker, at the Dulwich Picture Gallery (review coming soon!) and at the Royal Academy: Renaissance Impressions – Chiaroscuro Woodcuts.

Hans Burgkmair the Elder, 'St George and the Dragon', c. 1508-10." Chiaroscuro woodcut printed from two blocks, the tone block in beige. 31.9 x 22.5 cm. Collection Georg Baselitz. Photo Albertina, Vienna. Organised by the Royal Academy of Arts, London and the Albertina, Vienn

Hans Burgkmair the Elder, St George and the Dragon, c. 1508-10. Chiaroscuro woodcut printed from two blocks, the tone block in beige. Collection Georg Baselitz. Photo Albertina, Vienna.

Ugo da Carpi, after Raphael, The Miraculous Draught of Fishes, c. 1523-27. Chiaroscuro woodcut printed from three blocks, the tone blocks in red, 23.4 x 25.7 cm. Albertina, Vienna. Photo: Albertina, Vienna

Ugo da Carpi, after Raphael, The Miraculous Draught of Fishes, c. 1523-27. Chiaroscuro woodcut printed from three blocks, the tone blocks in red. Photo: Albertina, Vienna

Ugo da Carpi, after Raphael; Aeneas and Anchises 1518, Chiaroscuro woodcut printed from four tone blocks, in beige and grey 51 x 37.4 cm Collection Georg Baselitz. Photo Albertina, Vienna. Organised by the Royal Academy of Arts, London and the Albertina, Vienn

Ugo da Carpi, after Raphael; Aeneas and Anchises 1518, Chiaroscuro woodcut printed from four tone blocks, in beige and grey. Collection Georg Baselitz. Photo Albertina, Vienna.

Ugo da Carpi - Diogenes (1527)

Ugo da Carpi – Diogenes (1527)

This exhibition couldn’t be more timely for me. I have only recently started dabbling in woodcutting myself, having been inspired to do so by Felix Vallotton’s exhibition in Paris last year. Likewise, I have been fully immersed in Renaissance art of late, not least in seeking inspiration for my on-going Norm Saints collection which drawn on Renaissance religious imagery for its primary inspiration.

It is that same intense religious flavour, together with the grandiose imagery which was born of the Renaissance, which forms a golden thread through the 150 or so masterful woodcuts which the Royal Academy currently have on exhibition. Formed of the collections of the Albertina in Vienna, and the private haul of contemporary artist, Georg Baselitz (you know, the one who paints upside down portraits), this brilliant show brings together a fine set of prints which explore the birth of the chiaroscuro woodcut, a unique use of wood to express the intensification of light and dark.

Hendrick Goltzius, Hercules Killing Cacus, 1588. Chiaroscuro woodcut printed from three blocks, the tone blocks in yellow and green, 41.1 x 33.3 cm. Collection Georg Baselitz. Photo: Albertina, Vienna

Hendrick Goltzius, Hercules Killing Cacus, 1588. Chiaroscuro woodcut printed from three blocks, the tone blocks in yellow and green, 41.1 x 33.3 cm. Collection Georg Baselitz. Photo: Albertina, Vienna

Andrea Andreani, after Giambologna, Rape of a Sabine Woman, 1584, Collection Georg Baselitz. Photo Albertina, Vienna
Albrecht Dürer, Rhinoceros (1515 and c.1620 - the highlights)

Albrecht Dürer, Rhinoceros (1515 and c.1620 – the highlights)

Albrecht Dürer, Ulrich Varnbühler (1522 and c.1620 - the highlights)

Albrecht Dürer, Ulrich Varnbühler (1522 and c.1620 – the highlights)

Ugo da Carpi, after Raphael; Aeneas and Anchises 1518, Chiaroscuro woodcut printed from four tone blocks, in beige and grey 51 x 37.4 cm Collection Georg Baselitz. Photo Albertina, Vienna. Organised by the Royal Academy of Arts, London and the Albertina, Vienn

Ugo da Carpi, after Raphael; Aeneas and Anchises 1518, Chiaroscuro woodcut printed from four tone blocks, in beige and grey 51 x 37.4 cm Collection Georg Baselitz. Photo Albertina, Vienna. Organised by the Royal Academy of Arts, London and the Albertina, Vienn

Hans Sebald Beham, Head of Christ Crowned (1520-1) - woodcut from two blocks, tone block in brown.

Hans Sebald Beham, Head of Christ Crowned (1520-1) – woodcut from two blocks, tone block in brown.

From the Italian word meaning light-dark, chiaroscuro is better known to describe the dark and brooding masterpieces of Italian painter, Caravaggio. Just as Caravaggio is famed for utilising the stark contrast of light and shadow to create paintings packed full of drama and intensity, this woodcut technique, invented in the 1500s by Lucas Cranach the Elder and Hans Burgkmair the Elder, provides the same thrill of three-dimensional realism by using different wood plates to layer up light and shadows. It generally involves one plate which contains all of the darkest details (usually the most linear plate), while another provides an overall mid-tone with white highlights cut into it. The effect is one of dramatic contrasts and naturalistic brilliance, as each of the many prints on show in this exhibition demonstrate.

From the work of those inventors, to the development of the medium, mainly by Italian printmakrs such as Ugo da Carpi and Dmenico Beccafumi, we are treated to a period of creativity in which the medium is expertly utilised to create images which, at the time, must have stunned audiences for all of their realism and depth. But just as they may have stunned 1500s audiences for their apparently illusionistic manifestation of light and shadow, so too do they retain the ability to stun the audiences of today – because in their sheer detail and brilliantly perfect execution, these works are a breath of fresh air in a contemporary world where art is so often comprised of some untidy sploshes on a canvas.

Spectator-Royal-Academy

Renaissance Impressions is on at London’s Royal Academy until 8 June 2014.

Printmaking Progress V: Woodcut Ripples

Having  satisfied myself that I have learnt the basics of etching in both zinc and copper (and having quickly realised that I am probably not all that good at Linocut) my next challenge in my quest to learn the multifaceted skills of printmaking was to learn the art of woodcut. This sudden desire to print images from carvings made in wood was very much inspired by the work of Felix Vallotton, whose superb satirical woodcuts stood out for me way and beyond his paintings at the recent Paris Grand Palais retrospective.

So when I saw a multiplate woodcut course being offered up at my favourite art college, The Art Academy in London Bridge, I jumped at the chance to enrol.

The night before the course began, I wasn’t at all sure what image to portray with my wood. On the one hand I wanted to emulate the moody mysterious social scenarios created by Vallatton, but on the other, I wanted to continue relishing in the fond memories of my recent Italy trip. Nostalgia eventually took precedence and I decided to continue my new experiment in Venetian ripples.

The wooden plates and a first proof

woodcut 2 woodcut 1 woodcut proof

That’s all very well, except that as I was about to discover, woodcut is rather tricky for a newcomer to the medium, and having chosen a photo on which my image would be based, and drawn it onto my wood, I soon found trying to cut the fluid curving lines inherent to watery reflections nigh on impossible to cut. Yet despite a few scratches, a punctured thumb and a clear case of repetitive strain injury in my forefinger, I persevered, and the photos on this blog show both the finished woodcut print, as well as a range of prints taken along the way when I was using just two plates (and therefore two colours) before I added depth to my image with an additional third plate.

The finished print and a detail shot

Ripples on the Rio della Guerra (2014 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, woodcut print on paper)

Ripples on the Rio della Guerra (2014 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, woodcut print on paper)

Ripples DETAIL

Not bad for my first attempt – I love the fact that when you first look at the print, it looks almost like an abstract expression before your mind becomes acquainted with the various darker shapes which make up the underside of the bridge, and the windows of a nearby Venetian house – all seen rippled of course.

Much inspired I’m sure that more woodcuts will follow as I continue my merry journey into the world of printmaking.

Alternative colours and a print run of the final print

red ripple yellow ripple orange ripplephoto

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at www.delacy-brown.com