Essay – Printmaking

Family enjoying a meal in the sunshine while behind them others are heading to other worlds. It is a comment on our complicated lives.

“Take Me Away” by Donna Brown

Take Me Away, by Donna Brown — why I like this woodcut so much

Part of the fun of this woodcut is the contradiction embedded in the image and the title. In the print, a flagstone path leads the eye to an explosive rocket launch.  Clouds of exhaust spill onto a house on the lower right of the print, but the family sitting at a table in front of the house completely ignore this blastoff as they calmly look in another direction. One might expect the print to be called Damn Those Rockets! but it is called Take Me Away,  suggesting — possibly — a secret enthusiasm for rockets, space, a childhood memory? All in all, the image is mysterious and defies easy categorization.

Woodcutting is an uncompromising technique in that every part of the initial image must be transformed into a block of color.  Each shape must effectively draw in the viewer. The artist is less likely to be able to depend on interesting textures or delicate lines to make the work successful — in other words, it’s harder to fudge it.  In Take Me Away, the converging lines of the table, the path, the hedges and the house all guide the viewer’s eye up to the rocket launch. And it’s startling that the people sitting at the table just don’t care.

Pairing an explosion and indifference is an artistic bull’s-eye. Bravo!

In addition to the contest winners, also noted with interest and approval are these works:

LilliehookbreenVE 1/5 by Megan Broughton,

      Lost Constellations by Anita Heckman,

           Svalbard Pieta by Margaret Murray  and 

                Yarameki by Toru Sugita.

— Leslie Lowinger