Create a realistic or fantastical depiction of your favorite animal using traditional western woodblock printmaking techniques.
This course is for those who appreciate the beauty of the natural world, have an active imagination, and would like to create compelling creatures! Students can carve either an 8″ x 10″ portrait or full body representation of an animal of their choosing. Stay true to the subject’s physical characteristics or exaggerate features to give the image a whimsical quality.
Using hand-held chisels, workshop participants will carve away sections of the woodblock to define areas of black and white in the finished print. Castonguay will explain how textures such as feathers, scales, and fur can be simplified to lend themselves to the graphic qualities of the medium. Castonguay will also teach proper woodblock preparation, tool use, honing, sharpening, and printing on the press. We will also discuss printing without a press and what inks and papers work best given different printing methods.
LYELL CASTONGUAY’S woodblock prints invoke disparate influences including Japanese ukiyo-e, the naturalist works of Audubon and Buffon, and traditional Chinese brush paintings. The artist contextualizes the natural world through the filter of his imagination. Castonguay’s paracosm is filled with familiar animals made beholden with human emotions such as tension, conflict, restlessness, and uncertainty. These bold personalities are seemingly at odds with each subject’s intrinsic wildness. The artist’s distorted narratives often incorporate covert references to environmental decline, natural resource commodification, and displacement.
Castonguay teaches woodblock printmaking at nationally recognized studios and art centers. He is also the director of BIG INK, a collaborative project that facilitates the production of large-scale woodblock prints carved by artists residing throughout the USA. Castonguay received his BFA from the New Hampshire Institute of Art in 2010 and resides in Newmarket, NH. Castonguay’s work is represented by Bowersock Gallery, Provincetown, MA, Mitchell • Giddings, Brattleboro, VT, Chases Garage, York, ME, and Imprint Gallery, Cannon Beach, OR.
Image: Lyell Castonguay, Vampire Tiger Tuna, Woodcut
Choose a favorite animal and think about how you would like to depict the subject in a woodblock. Do you want to create a portrait or depict the entire animal’s body? Do you want the animal placed in a natural setting or abstract background?
Alternately would you like to mash the physical characteristics of two or more animals together and create a fantastical creature? What animals would you use for inspiration? How would their different attributes mesh together to create an appealing design?
If you decide to make your own creature think outlandishly but incorporate real animals! For example what if you designed a creature with the head of a hummingbird, the body of a snake and eagle wings? What would a toad look like if it were covered in feathers?
Come to class with an 8” x 10” drawing. This drawing will be used as the basis for your woodblock design. Use reference photos of your subject(s) to create this drawing. Being these photos with you to class.
Purchase this Power Grip Five Piece Carving Set and this Power Grip Carving Knife for class. If you already have carving tools please email me photos and I’ll tell you if they are suitable for the workshop.