Wildlands in Woodblock

By Peterson, Abigail | Sunset, March 2002 | Go to article overview

Wildlands in Woodblock


Peterson, Abigail, Sunset


Best of the West

Using Japanese techniques, Tom Killion portrays the California landscape

* In a single, fluid movement, printmaker Tom Killion turns a cylinder that draws a sheet of handmade Japanese paper through his German proofing press. It's near the end of a complex series of steps to create an original woodblock print.

Killion's specialty is the Western landscape-mainly California's coast and mountains. But what makes his work distinctive is his adaptation of traditional techniques developed by early-19th-century Japanese print artists. The use of Japanese hand tools, for example, gives his work a refined simplicity and sharpness of line reminiscent of the classic Japanese prints that inspired French Impressionist Claude Monet.

"Tom has a wonderful ability to look both to the East and to the West," explains Kathleen Moodie of the Museum of Art and History in Santa Cruz, California. "What impresses me most, however, is how intimately he knows the terrain he represents. Instead of showing a mountain off in the distance, he gets up close, conveying the sense of what it's really like to be there."

Sketching the rugged California backcountry as he hikes, Killion spends weeks on the trail each year. …

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