I was captivated by woodblock printing in my college days at University of Nevada, Reno. I studied it enthusiastically until moving on to other classes, but I told myself I'd return to block printing someday.
Since that time I had a successful career working for advertising agencies, doing graphic design, art direction, illustration, and all things demanded by small-town firms with modest means. It was a great way to for an artist to get a start in life with steady income. But that steady income eventually gave way to a heartfelt need to pursue fine art. It took several years to transition from the commercial work to painting. A friend in the ad business introduced me to outdoor, or plein air, painting. Simply put, it involved going outside with a painting kit and letting nature inspire the work. One trip up Geiger Grade overlooking Reno and the snow-patterned slopes of Mount Rose, and I was hooked.
Over the course of 25 years I painted outdoors with vigor. I took regular trips throughout Nevada and the high Sierra, creating as many as four small paintings a day. During the winter months I'd use them in the studio as reference for larger or more conceptualized paintings. They became impossible to be without.
I've given much thought to the number of those plein-air paintings I made. They sure added up over time, to the point where there was hardly a nook in the entire studio or house that they didn't occupy. My best estimate is that they numbered well over 1,000. Many of them were sold, but many are still in my possession.
Today I feel ambivalent that I sold a single one of them, which even to this artist sounds like a ludicrous thing to say. It's because they have become so important to my body of work, especially the work on which I'm now embarking.
The COVID-19 pandemic gave me ample reason to reconsider what I was doing artistically, and that thought awakened the nearly forgotten interest in woodblock printing. It's because of those small paintings still in my possession that the prints are now coming to life.
Above: Buffalo Canyon, an outdoor, or plein-air, oil painting, 10" x 12"
Below: A woodblock print derived from the painting, Buffalo Canyon
I hope you will support my endeavor. If you've followed my work through the years, this may seem like a big change, but it's not. I'm still telling more of my nature-inspired story, still burning sweet juniper wood at the campfire, still awakening every morning with a burning desire to grab my coffee and get busy. And if you're new to my work, take off your backpack and stay a while.