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This process is a thing of Joy!

Updated: Jun 27, 2022

Suzan Carsley is our Gallery manager. Here she explains her linocut process.

I have been doing watercolour since the early 1990’s when I fell in love with the vibrant work of Ming Ma, a Hong Kong born artist living in Montreal. What followed was 3 years learning with this master. Bold saturated colour and strong architectural elements get my “creative juices” flowing.

Since retiring from my “day job” and moving to New Brunswick 10 years ago I have experimented with different mediums and techniques. It was only when I took a linocut workshop with Mike McKewing five years ago, did I realize how incredible the two disciplines go together.

The linocut process is intensive : researching the subject, creating the image, drawing and cutting the plates, then printing them on different papers. I first printed the images at home on Japanese paper, burnishing them by hand using a baren (a slightly rounded disc used to evenly apply pressure to the paper on the inked block) and then finishing with a wooden spoon.

Once satisfied with the result, I then printed the series on intaglio paper, pulled on the printing press at the River Arts Centre and Studio in Florenceville-Bristol. The resulting image is dictated by the pressure of the roll on the carved block and can vary from block to block, depending on how much has been cut away. Each printing method brings a different dimension to the image.

I don’t know which is more satisfying, cutting or printing but I do know that when I peel the paper away from the block to reveal the image for the first time, it is a thing of joy to behold.

The black and white image that is exposed is bold and crisp and has its own character. I love it like that, but when I add watercolour to the image, each linocut then becomes a unique expression unto itself.

My current project is inspired by artist, journalist and indigenous rights activist Tappan Adney, “Woodstock’s complete Renaissance Man” and known as saving the birchbark canoe from extinction.

I had the good fortune to visit his granddaughter’s cottage last year and although Tappan Adney himself had never been there, I felt his spirit when I walked into this charming turn of the century cottage.

I was impassioned and excited to do an acrylic and linocut series from this encounter and have spent the last 7 months on the linocut part of the series. There are 12 images, starting from the road in with exterior and interior views. I look forward to sharing the series next summer at the Connell House in Woodstock.

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