February 10, 2015

More Snow!

        We’re breaking all kinds of snowfall records around here, and although the kids are back to school this morning, it’s snowing again now.  The funny thing, though, is that we had no snow to speak of all winter until the very end of January, so the towering piles of white still seem pretty and even sort of fun, rather than old, tired, and grinding.  So here I am with two more relief block prints of snowy scenes.
        I’ve chosen to pair these two because of their contrasts.  The first, by Eileen Balfour-Browne,  is a wood engraving, and despite it being a scene of snow, there are no large areas of white.  The whole thing is meticulously detailed with the fine lines characteristic of engraving tools.  There are lots of realistic details, from the rain barrel to the footprints going in at the front.  My favorite thing about it is the black trees that are really just gaps in the texture of the falling snow.
        Today’s second piece, by Edvard Munch, is rough and impressionistic, using a wide gouge instead of fine engravers, and emphasizing the thick blanket of snow covering the ground and roofs, rather than the fine, whirling flakes.  There are no details, no carefully depicted realistic touches, and yet this piece still gives a sense of the heaviness of the snow, its silence and its weight.
        I like that two such different carving techniques can both be so effective.

[Pictures: Snowstorm, wood engraving by Eileen Balfour-Browne, c. 1931 (Image from Etchings Plus);
Winter Landscape, woodcut by Edvard Munch, 1898 (Image from John Szoke).]

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