January 7, 2022

Snow Scenes

        Every year when we have a nice snowfall I write a post with a theme of snow scenes.  And I never run out of pieces to share, because block printmakers do seem to love snow scenes!  Perhaps it should not come as any surprise; after all, snow, like the most basic relief prints, reduces the world to black and white.
        First is a wood engraving, which allows lots of very fine detail, so that we see not only every snow-covered twig on every tree, but even the reflections of all those snowy twigs.  I like the sky of such fine little gouges that it reads grey, and the twigs show up beautifully against it.  I’ve featured lots of Herbert Pullinger’s work before, because I love it.  You can read a whole post about him here, and see another of his winter scenes here.
        Next up is a view by Utagawa Hiroshige, another artist who made lots of views of snowy scenes.  (You can see a previously posted one at the second link above.)  This piece is interesting because it has an extra technique added to the traditional block printing: the scattered snowflakes were printed through a stencil.  The print includes one verse of poetry by Taihaidô Nomimasu:

   The snow covers the signs warning against

   Breaking the cherry branches,

   And also breaks them itself.

Cherry trees are such an iconic and stereotypical symbol of spring that it’s fun to see them in a wintry scene.
        I conclude with a piece called “White Christmas,” because in my house we’re celebrating Christmas Part II tomorrow with family that couldn’t be with us on December 25.  This is another wood engraving, and I like the way the super-fine lines have been used to shade the sky, contrasted with the simplicity of the tiny buildings.  Cheffetz did a whole calendar of small prints, and there’s more information here, where I showed a few of his spring pieces.
        I will have to figure out when to get to the supermarket, but other than that, I’m looking forward to staying cozy in our snowy refuge.

[Pictures: Rittenhouse Town, wood engraving by Herbert Pullinger, c.1950 (Image from PAFA);

Evening snow at Asuka hill, color woodblock print by Utagawa Hiroshige, c.1837 (Image from The Fitzwilliam Museum);

White Christmas from “A New England Calendar,” wood engraving by Asa Cheffetz, 1934 (Image from Art Institute Chicago.)]


Charlotte (MotherOwl) said...

Yes, I see why printmakers would love snow! I too do, and hope for some soon. The chreey trees in snow are a nice detail, but I lke the first one with all those brances and tiny details the best, I think.
Thank you for showing me these interesting prints.

Kristin said...

Snowy scenes are perfect for prints.