This Year’s Snowmen

Every year, since 2007, I have created a winter themed linoleum cut print at this time of year. And for my twelfth print, it again was tough to start the process as inspiration does not always come when I want it to. I have done so many of the these snowman prints and I wondered what could I do that would be new and inspire me to take on the creative labor of making these prints?

I decided to think of the print as a self portrait. But not in the sense that would be very obvious. I guess it is really a manifestation of my philosophy on educating our youth put into a single image.

One of the most important parts of my job is to point out the wonder in the world. To be the curator of life, at least for 180 days. Of course it is not a California State Standard but when there is wonder around, you just have to point it out.

What has really inspired this print has been my autumn birding outings with my young acolyte, Grasshopper Sparrow and his recent finding of a rare brown booby over the bay waters at Coyote Point.

Spending time in the natural world with a young one that sees the wonder of the world is an experience that fills my soul and give me hope for a generation that spend too much time wrapped in technology and not enough time in nature.

An alternate version of the print would be the young snow-student pointing to a point of wonder and the larger, teacher raising his hands in awe at the wonder of youth and surprise. Both versions would be applicable to the humbling experience of teaching.

This is the first draft sketch of the print design. I did this during a lull at a staff meeting. It probably took me less than a minute to put my mind’s concept to paper because I already had the image fully formed in my mind’s eye.

A refined draft sketch which I used to draw the design on the linoleum block, in reverse of course. Here I am just started to carve out the block.

At this stage I have carved away all the material that I do not want to print black and the block is really starting to look like the image I had in mind. The next step is to charge the block with ink and make a proof print.

Fresh prints drying before I hand tint each one with watercolor. Each print is different and it takes time to learn to embrace the medium and recognize to let go of complete control of the printing process.

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