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a graphite rubbing of a recent woodblock

a graphite rubbing of a recent woodblock

I’ve never been a stand-up comedian but it seems like an unforgiving enterprise. You tell a joke. If it’s funny, they laugh. If they don’t laugh, you bomb. And there’s no going back. Once you’ve told the joke you are on the roller coaster and there’s no getting off.

Making woodcut prints is the same way.

Once you carve part of the block that wood is gone and you can’t get it back. There is no fixing mistakes once they are made.

Sometimes it goes well…it’s just the right mark (or pretty close) and the carving comes out well. The audience laughs at the joke.

But sometimes your hand slips or you miscalculate and you make a mistake. Your joke bombs.

So you can’t wing it. You can’t tinker. Every move you make is permanent. So it’s challenging and frustrating. Sometimes you can’t figure out how to solve the problem of a block with mistakes carved into it. Then you have to set it aside and begin again.

Make a new plan, start a new project, write a new joke. Whether they laugh or not, you keep showing up for the work.