|Debra Broman is my neighbor, my patron, and my friend. It's the first portrait I've done since 2000.
In the color linocut print process, after carving away a negative design on individual wooden blocks faced with gray battleship linoleum, the artist is left with a higher flat positive face that receives the ink from a rolling brayer. The block is then placed face down upon the paper, and with the application of pressure by hand or with a printing press, it releases its design in reverse.
I started working with this medium because I've always been fascinated by examples of chiaroscuro woodblock prints. In Italian, chiaro means light and scuro means dark. See an example: Diogenes by Ugo da Carpi.
Invented by the German artist Hans Burgkmair in 1509, the chiaroscuro print was meant to evoke drawings on colored paper, heightened with white. In the chiaroscuro printing technique, the white of the paper is left as a color, and the printing progresses from lightest color ink to the darkest or key color.
Although many modern day artists use the grain of woodblock printing to add a special texture to fields of color, originally woodblocks chosen for printing were either plain-grained and left little discernible texture, or were end-grained and used for the fine lines of wood engraving, and likewise left no texture. I'm convinced that the greater ease and reliability of linoleum as a medium over that of wood would have been taken advantage of 500 years ago if it had been available.
The various prints in the Menschen series are of various close friends and special patrons of mine.
variant forms: or mensh
NOUN: Inflected forms: pl. mensch·es or mensch·en (mnshn)
Informal: A person having admirable characteristics, such as fortitude and firmness of purpose: He radiates the kind of fundamental decency that has a name in Yiddish; he's a mensch (James Atlas).
etymology: Yiddish, human being, mensch, from Middle High German, human being, from Old High German mennisco.
-American Heritage Dictionary, 2000