January 3, 2014

Snow Day

        It snowed all day yesterday and through the night, and today the children have a snow day.    There is much rejoicing.  Time for some more relief block prints of snowy scenes!  The snow came down hard and steadily, very fine, not big flakes like in this wood engraving by Ian Stephens.  But the windiness, which Stephens has depicted with strokes of the multi-line tool, was there through the night.  I like the movement and 
vigor of this scene when most other snowscapes seem to capture the stillness of snow instead.  For example, Herschel Logan’s scene of snowfall at night seems quieter and more peaceful.  It’s the soft white blanket, not the blustering blizzard.  One of Logan’s trademarks is the powdery look of many many little carved nicks that are hardly more than specks.  It’s very well suited to the silent, sifting snow.
        Kiyoshi Saito’s snow looks much heavier than Logan’s - or ours.  It’s actually a color woodblock print, although the colors are only shades of grey.  I think I can make out six colors of ink from black to the lightest grey, plus white.  It seems such a simple image, with its large, rounded areas of untextured ink, but in fact it’s quite complex.  Sort of like snow itself, really - which may be awesomely complex with every unique snowflake and all, but always has the effect of simplifying every shape and color.
        Saito’s snow looks like it might be excellent for packing, and so, evidently, is the snow in Olaus Magnus’s depiction of “the Youths’ Snow Castles.”  What an elaborate fort this is!  P went up the street this morning and tried building a snow fort with a friend, but theirs wasn’t even in the same universe as this, with its high battlements and tunnel entrances.  It looks to be decorated all around with icicles, too, which seems a remarkably artistic touch for a bunch a boys intent on a snowball fight.
        But our snow is shovelled, and the sun is out, and the only reasonable thing to do now is to get a mug of hot tea and curl up in a blanket with a good book.

[Pictures: Feb ’09, wood engraving by Ian Stephens, 2009 (Image from The Society of Wood Engravers);
Snow, wood block print by Herschel Logan, 1930 (Image from Legend Fine Arts);
Winter in Aizu, color woodcut by Kiyoshi Saito, 1972 (Image from the Cleveland Museum of Art);
On the Youths’ Snow Castles, woodcut from Book 1, Chapter 23 of Historia de Gentibus Septentrionalibus by Olaus Magnus, 1555 (Image from Lars Henriksson).]

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