seeking the source

'Seeking the Source', wood engraving, Peter McLean, 2012


This is my most recent wood engraving, the latest waypoint for this image, which began on a walk in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales.  Since then the image has passed through drawings and large paintings, and now been miniaturised again.  In the translation into print it has been mirrored as well.  A new element has entered the picture now, with the distinctive outer shape bringing new associations and emphasising the internal flow of the image as well.  It is the first block I have made from a small piece of Paper Birch that I collected a few years back. I’m always on the lookout for suitable pieces of wood – of suitable hardness, relatively free of cracks (or ‘interesting’ looking cracks), and importantly, small enough to carry away without causing too much of a spectacle.  This piece came from a pile of prunings I noticed while leaving the dentist as I remember.  I thought Birch would be too soft, but some of the commercially made engraving blocks are Birch, so thought I might as well try it.  So after letting the wood cure for a few years, I made a block.  It is certainly a little on the soft side, but with care is quite suitable.  My quest for using wood that I find as my main material often leads me to use blocks that cold be considered inferior – but I think  it just pushes me to fine tune my craft even more.


What source is being sought?  Well that’s something I’d rather leave as a bit of a mystery for the time being.

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2 Responses to “seeking the source”

  1. Drew Kail Says:

    Nice image. Have you ever looked up Lynd Ward? He did a lot of wood engraving as well, and It seems as though you might enjoy his work.

  2. Pete McLean Says:

    Hi Drew, Thanks. Yes I know of Lynd Ward – I have a little reproduction of one of his wordless books. I enjoyed looking through your site too.

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