Monday, May 20, 2013

Wooden dynamics

Woodcut by Bryan Nash Gill is a beautiful art book.

This is a collection of images of large-scale relief prints from cross sections of trees and manufactured wood products such as ply-wood and 2 x 4 boards.  The  work explores aspects of wood that intrigue the artist, such as the patterning of rings and grain, boles, insect damage, and growth patterns.

He discusses each image and what he was looking at or trying to achieve with each print.

Occasionally, he includes bits of information about his techniques as well. In the last section of the book, he provides  more lengthy descriptions of the process he used to bring out the wood (lots of sanding), preservation techniques, inks, printing process and storage of the wood blocks.

It’s an investigation into looking closely at trees and the nature of wood.

But the real reason I purchased this one was for its use in the Grade 6 science unit about trees and forests.  On occasion, I've been asked for cross sections of trees so that student-teachers can have their students count rings and discuss the growing conditions that have produced variations in ring growth.  And we do have a couple of kits with a few examples of cross sections.  I thought Woodcut could also be used for this purpose as well, but would also provide opportunity to examine variations between different types of wood.  I think the blocking process brings out elements of the wood in ways that we don’t always see in the real thing.  It’s easy to take wood for granted. Looking at art and knowing something is an art piece often brings us up short and gets us to consider this in a different way or for a longer period of time.  An artist thought this was worth doing something with – why? What did he see?  What was he thinking?

It’s an exercise in artful and scientific observation.  Fascinating.


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