The WIP: Woodcut Portrait

Welcome to another segment of, The Work In Progress. Much like Rembrandt and Kollwitz, I decided that it was my turn to print my face in, “Woodcut Portrait.”


State I shows my first signs of progress. I was worried that cutting out my head from wood would be tedious and demeaning. The fact that I could make the cuts resemble myself in someway was a motivation booster. In no way did I feel completed during this stage. In short, I wanted to test out my progress which should be done no matter how confident you may seem. When all is said and done, the final product will be morphed by many factors, including the image being reflected, the ink’s weight and color, and the texture of the wood. At this point I was also focused on two points: the lips and the background. The lips made myself look more like a skeleton or part of the “Dia de los Muertos” celebration (which was not intended), and the background simply seemed too plain. I wanted some excitement to happen alongside my head.


In State II, I worked on the background and parts of my face. For the background, the wood had some natural lines flowing through it, but I wanted to emphasize them more, as well as provide a different emotion. By using sandpaper, I could change the types of lines that come out of it. They now look grainier and ruffled which compliments the different textures on my face including my chin, lips, hair, and neck. Notice as well that I didn’t change the texture in my lips as I discussed in State I. The process of woodcutting is tedious in actuality. If you were to make a mistake in a cut, then there wouldn’t be much you could do to correct it. The size of the woodblock was only a few inches, so  when comparing that to the size of the lips, you can understand how stressful it could be; therefore, I didn’t want to change that part yet until I was satisfied with the changes to the rest of the piece. Everything needs to flow together, and I can accurately do that once everything else is finished.


Finally, in State III I add a few minor touches. The major changes include the lips, the hair, and the experimentation of ink. Lines were added to the lips where contrasts seemed more decisive. It provided more form and movement to the piece. The changes to the hair has the same explanation, in that the additional lines gives more volume and flow. As a final test, I added more ink than before in State II to see which amounts of ink worked best. I felt happier with the medium of the two, and so my final piece was produced.


While I can not completely tell which of the two I like better, it never hurts to create a new edition. The black and white one leaves a dark image in my eyes which provides a separate emotion than that of the colored print. Either way, with my love for printmaking I feel accomplished to have put a part of myself in one set of my prints.

Please leave a comment below if you have any critiques or comments, or simply just LIKE and SHARE!

For more, visit Tristan’s Website

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