March 22, 2016

Wood and Water

        Today is World Water Day, when we’re encouraged to consider the importance of clean water and the issues around its availability and distribution, and our use of it.  This makes a good excuse to feature two wood block prints featuring scenes of water.  These are both by British artists who embraced color wood block printing between the two world wars.  Having borrowed inspiration and techniques from Japanese wood block prints, these artists produced work with a completely British feel.
        I really love this waterfall by Mabel Royds (English,1874-1941).  It’s clearly been made from several blocks, but in addition a least one of the blocks has been inked with multiple colors in gradation to make the grey-to-blue rocks.  I love the close-up framing on the water.  It looks cool, refreshing, and appropriately life-giving for World Water Day.
        This stream by Eric Slater (English, 1896-1963) looks to be made with an even more Japanese technique, but it has a distinctive style of breaking the image into areas of relatively flat color, almost like a paint-by-number.  The low contrast between all the different yellowy greens give this scene a warm look as of one of those very still humid summer days.  This is not a fresh, cold mountain stream, but an unhurried meadow stream.
        Never take water for granted.

[Pictures: The Waterfall, color wood block print by Mabel Royds, c 1938 (Image from National Galleries Scotland);
Stream, color wood block print by Eric Slater, between 1926-38 (Image from Modern Printmakers).]

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