Wednesday, May 20, 2015

karl marxhausen - print share

Photographer Karl Marxhausen held up a favorite woodcut at the Creative Cafe and shared the difficulty of the cutting and inking process. Double click on images to enlarge details.


"It began with my love for "a wisp." The way the thin graphite strokes described faint sunlight coming through the cloud."

"The thinnest lines in a woodcut are the darkest black. The whole design becomes something more than a gray scale drawing. After all the days it takes to cut a design onto the block, the inking and the proofing, it takes me just as long to embrace what I see with my eyes. A woodcut cannot hold soft lines like the light touch of graphite can."

"The tiptop of the trees are so skinny on the block, they hold a little amount of printer's ink. The hand-burnishing from the back side of the paper needs to be both gentle and deliberate. If that area is missed, then the details I want will be absent."

Six minute video showed inking a woodcut block with a brayer. Aligning the proof sheet with the inked block. Methodical burnishing by hand. Pulling a proof. And removing the water-based ink with a paper towel. (courtesy of the artist)

"There is a lot of guessing and planning that one works at. In my "Limb Over Snow Houses" I filled the sky with dashes, inspired by the work of C.A. Seward. It wasn't in the original drawing. It worked out amazingly well. I especially enjoy the graphic boldness and poetry of the tree trunk."

Hi, Karl, I wanted to send you a note thanking you for sharing your 2 prints today at the "show & tell." I was glad you passed them around so we could get a closer look at them. They were really quite wonderful! Keep up the good the work!
Ruthie Osa

Karl Marxhausen is a member of the Nelson Atkins Print Society. He takes photos for the Spotlight KC Print blog when he can. Members are encouraged to send their photos to along with their observations and comments related to all our events. See more of the plein air drawings from which his woodcuts were based at
Drop him an email to get his monthly newsletter. He keeps an art blog, the Moss Creek Journal  Cheers.

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