Thursday, 27 October 2016

Feature Friday: Peter Nevins Woodcut Prints

Where are you from?
I’m from Mill Valley, California. It’s a little town in the Redwoods that many of the hippies moved to after San Francisco became a drag in the late 60s-early 70s.  It was very bohemian, now the median home price is over a million dollars so I couldn’t go back there.  I moved to NYC in 2005, Montréal in 2008,  Portland in 2011 and now Astoria, Oregon, way out on the west coast - two hours west of Portland.
Where do you currently practice your artwork?
I carve woodblocks at my desk, and for now my press is in the laundry room.  
I’m currently building a studio in the yard!
Are you self taught or have you completed any training?
Self-taught in woodcut.  But I did have a painting teacher, the amazing Chester Arnold, for a few months. I was a friend of a friend of his, and he let me attend the community college class he was teaching on a drop-in basis. He saw me always painting with big dark lines around my subjects for clarity. I was always trying to mimic a primitive woodcut style in my work, so one day he handed me a black canvas and told me to start from that. Through that one moment I got the idea of painting the light onto the darkness. Mentally this is the same as carving away the part of the woodblock you don’t want to print - and almost 20 years later, here I am!
How would you describe your artwork/process?
I’m a woodcut printmaker. I start from a pencil drawing using directional lines to describe the volumes depicted. I basically carve away everything but the drawing. I then roll ink on the block, lay the paper on it and roll it through an etching press. I use a separate block for each colour and I’ve developed simple systems to lay the paper down in the same place each time so the different colours all register correctly.
What is your biggest influence/inspiration?
Since high school I’ve had a great friend who is one of the greatest artists and poets I’ve ever even heard of, but he prefers to go incognito. No website, probably only a few hundred people know of him. When I met him I wanted to be a comic book artist. He introduced me to the work of William Blake and that cured me of my comic book dreams. 

The woodblock prints of Felix Vallotton really started me on the journey to where I am now with woodcut - that was the next big discovery. For fine tuning I always go back to Dürer and look closely to see how he handled certain problems of shading that come up in woodcut. Also collaborating with Anaïs Mitchell has been great, and working on designs with Dave Rawlings and Gillian Welch has been a huge inspiration over the years. 
Have you ever received any artistic awards for your work?
In 2010 I received a Grammy nomination with my collaborators Anaïs Mitchell and Brian Grunert, for our work on the cover for Anaïs’ record 'Hadestown'.
In 2016 The Curious Treehouse reached out to me.
What are you working on at the moment?
The last few months I’ve been finishing my first illustrated book: Vlad The Astrophysicist. I literally sent it to the printer a few days ago. Now my friend Cyril Moya is en route to visit here on Friday and we begin our work on an illustrated bohemian tour guide/paean to Montréal. Before he gets here, I hope to finish a wine label for Californian winemaker 'Two Black Cats'. The other BIG thing has been building the studio. A HUGE project. I'm only about 70% done and I’ve gotta finish it before I can print more woodblocks!
Where can people see your work?
There is a facebook page for updates, there’s an instagram for more random things.
 There are kind of a lot of things that come up if you search my name on pinterest.

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