cutting wood blocks for printing

I have been collecting leaves, bark, and other materials in the woods here and thinking about how I may use them in making drawings, prints, and paintings. The process at this point is to work up a sketch from scanned material, use that to determine the relative size of a wood block, settle on the dimensions for the work, find the raw material that will fit the requirements, here, a section of an old tree trunk, and print out a guide for the image and cut the block. Every source material winds up having to be handled differently in the cutting, the tools that work well with one piece of wood may not be what will work with another.



wood blocks

I have been cutting wood blocks out of an old tree stump to use for printing on rice paper. I eyeballed all of the blocks as I made the initial cuts with the chain saw, happy to live with the drawing and marks that resulted from the process. In the first prints I made it was clear that the proportions of printing surface to open space was wrong, and the images surprisingly smaller than the appearance of the blocks suggested. So I have been fixing the blocks by cutting them apart, removing what would be white space, and reassembling.

wood blocks for printing

Drawing tool for ink and wash

The drawing tool, used here with sumi ink and wash.

I have been drawing recently with sumi ink and wash using brushes and pens of various kinds. Some are reed pens that I cut from the stems from an old hydrangea bush. I wanted a tool to use with the ink that had more of the feel of charcoal in contact with the support, as opposed to the brush which has a softer feel in point of contact. It occurred to me that something like the tool pictured here might be made using these stems and a section of fabric that could absorb ink. I was surprised at how well this works, the fabric will absorb a large amount of ink, and so it is possible to draw for a longer time before recharging with ink. I’ve made these in a variety of sizes, but even using one size it is possible to get a variety of marks. One drawback in that after prolonged use, the fabric begins to fray, but is easily replaced. Click on the image here to view a sequence of steps for the construction of the tool.

Oral history interview with Richard Diebenkorn


Susan Larsen, for the Archives of American Art, interviews Richard Diebenkorn, 1985 May 1-1987 Dec. 15

“Diebenkorn speaks of his family background and early life; his education and his service in the Marine Corps; his introduction to modernism; his early abstract work; the formation of the Bay Area figurative school and the relationship between art in New York and in the Bay Area; teaching; critical and public reaction to his work; important exhibitions of his work; vacillating between the figurative and the abstract in his painting; his working methods. He recalls Daniel Mendelowitz, Erle Loran, Raymond Jonson, David Park, and Elmer Bischoff.”

Image: Richard Diebenkorn, “Reclining Nude – Pink Stripe”, 1962.

site launch

art·work results from a desire to rethink how my activity as an artist may be represented in a way that is more satisfying.  It is opening all the doors to the rooms in the house. The old hierarchy is out.

The plan is to present both the work of the studio and the research and discoveries related to my work, as well as the art that evolves from these activities.

I have pulled in existing content from, editing some of the posts and deleting others, before closing that site.


Notations: Contemporary Drawing as Idea and Process

Notations: Contemporary Drawing as Idea and Process, a website for the exhibition Notations, curated by Meredith Malone for the Kemper Art Museum September 14, 2012, to January 7, 2013.

The focus is on the variety of drawing practices used by artists making Minimal and Conceptual art in the 1960’s and 70’s.

Robert De Niro at D. C. Moore

Robert De Niro Sr., still life

A beautiful exhibition of paintings and drawings by Robert De Niro Sr. at D. C. Moore. The color in these paintings is striking, and they look much better first hand than in any reproductions I have seen. “Inspiring” is a good word to describe these works. De Niro has not had the attention he deserves from the official art world institutions and press, although painters have always been aware of and have valued his work. I hope this exhibition will help to remedy the situation, because I would like to have more opportunities to see both his paintings and drawings.

collage with ink and acrylic

Rice paper with sumi ink, watercolor, and dry pigments mixed into acrylic gel. The acrylic paint used here is zinc white pigment mixed with a matte acrylic gel, poured onto the paper and then manipulated with various tools.

Typically I am working on a series of drawings based on a set of related ideas, and then cutting and tearing those into sections and repositioning the parts from one or more drawings to make each collage. I use an acid free glue stick for the adhesive, and may run a collage through a printing press to make sure the pieces are firmly pressed together before adding paint.

Untitled. Collage drawing with ink and acrylic on rice paper, © 2014 Graham White, artist

James Lancel McElhinney

I have been working with James McElhinney on a new website for his work, just launched, James teaches at the Art Students League, has a new publication of his sketchbooks in print and a series of interviews with artists and art historians for the Archives of American Art and Newington Cropsey Cultural Studies Center.


Interviews with artists

The Artists Documentation Program interviews artists in order to gain a better understanding of their materials, working techniques, and intent for the conservation of their works. The interviews, conducted by conservators, with Jasper Johns, Richard Serra, Brice Marden, Frank Stella, Cy Twombly, John Currin, and many others, are informal and often revealing of the artist’s intention, process, and personality.

Newington-Cropsey Cultural Studies Center interviews include Jack Beal, Wolf Kahn, Will Barnet, Audrey Flack, Donald Kuspit and other artists and writers identified with traditional forms and craft. The interviews focus on how the careers and work of the artists are situated within the larger social and art historical contexts of their time.

playing scales

James L. McElhinney’s drawing class at the Art Students League typically begins with several twenty minute sessions of thirty second and two minute poses, and then finishes with longer poses. I usually go in with a simple idea or problem related to the drawing in mind, and the short pose format presents an opportunity to practice different approaches to use of materials, composition or style, much in the way a musician might use repetition to refine the shape a musical phrase.