Selective Focus: Nick Wroblewski

Nick Wroblewski gets beautiful layers of color and detail from his woodcut printing process. You may have seen his work in local galleries and shops, and you might also be seeing it in your refrigerator on 6-packs of Earth Rider beer. Simpler, limited-color versions of his art are being used on the Earth Rider packaging. Be sure to check out the video at the end of the post to see how he builds up the layers of color for some stunning effects. He will be talking about the work for Earth Rider tonight (Friday, 5/18) at the Cedar Lounge, and doing a demonstration tomorrow (Saturday, May 19) at Zeitgeist Art’s “Spirit of the Times” event.

NW: The medium I am working in is called woodcut printmaking, and it’s been my primary medium for about 15 years. All the images that I make are printed from the inked surface of a carved block of wood. This technique is an ancient method used to create multiples of a single image. I was first drawn to this technique because of the way that it combined elements of drawing and painting with sculpture and woodworking.

“Allegory of Awe”, Reduction Woodcut, 28” x 36”. This print was made with two woodblocks, with more and more wood carved away for each pass of color.

I had always been intrigued by poster design, lettering, and printmaking in general. My fascination grew as I was exposed to a community of artists working in visual arts, theater, puppetry, etc and I began to take stock of the accompanying visual world. I saw multiples of cards, posters, banners, all printed from linoleum and woodblocks. Then, when I was attending a public arts high school things really got serious. I had a teacher that showed me some of the more technical aspects of relief printmaking and I was officially hooked. Creating an image by carving a relief into wood forces one to really hone in on the contours and study the subject from a sculptural point of view. Asking, “what is it that defines this object? Is it the object itself or that which surrounds it?”, allows one to piece together a visual world that is deconstructed and rebuilt color by color, layer by layer. I think that this medium and way of seeing things has helped to create a deeper interpretation of the natural world.

“Sand in Accordance to Water”, Reduction Woodcut, diptych 40” x 64”. This print was made with a series of 4 woodblocks to create the diptych. I wanted to try to capture the connection in form between the water and the patterning on the sandbar.

Balancing the intake of inspiration with the output of expression is a challenge of being a visual artist. One is compelled to continually create and make work. This practice could continue indefinitely but at a certain point the well should be filled again. This is theoretical, but I am working on purposeful unproductive time. Aimlessly walking about. Daydreaming. Looking. Just hanging out with my little kids, separating the urge to create from being really present and aware. I’m trying to train my inner voice to sometimes say “oh there’s a tree”, instead of “oh, there’s a tree, I should make a print of it.”

“Stars Adrift”, Reduction Woodcut, 28” x 36”. This piece depicts the thick and tangled layers of the woods. I wanted to reflect the stars in the spiraling little river below, the branches reaching out and creating patterns that express a gesture, or sense of movement.

However, when I am in a state of creativity and deep into a woodcut, the feeling is sweet and truly rewarding. I like the challenge of setting up a series of parameters, as in printmaking, and trying to express an idea while adhering to the particular structure that one finds so enthralling. It’s a flow, and goes deep into shedding all other distractions, allowing one to be utterly present with the material and “spirit” of the subject matter. I think there are rewards to be had from perseverance and dedication. Seeing a print take form and guiding it along as it develops gives me such pleasure. I am entirely inspired by the process and always imagining what nuance can be revealed next.

“Time Aloft”, Reduction Woodcut, 11” x 14”. This piece, without border, is a dance between birds, pine needles, and little bits of snow.



Waters of Superior Gallery – Duluth
Sivertson – Grand Marais
Abel Contemporary – Madison, WI
Grand Hand Gallery – St Paul, MN
Seasons on St Croix – Hudson, WI

“Night Takes to the Lake”, Reduction Woodcut, 11” x 14”. The Lake continues to be a source of inspiration, cutting wave ripples, each swipe and resulting wood chip, a crest of water.

The last four years I have been working on illustrating children’s books. The first book, “Wake Up, Island,” was published in 2016. I just recently finished the images for the next book, “Hush Hush, Forest” which will be coming out this September. Also, I have been working on a series of woodcuts for Earth Rider Brewery. These images are currently being used for their packaging and beer labels. I will be talking briefly about the process of creating the woodcuts for Earth Rider this Friday evening at the Cedar Lounge. Also, this Saturday evening I will be demonstrating some of the woodcut printmaking techniques at the “Spirit of The Times” fundraiser event at Zeitgeist Cafe.

“Caribou”, Reduction Woodcut, 11” x 14”. This piece was made specifically for Earth Rider Brewery. It will be used for their Caribou Lake IPA packaging and can labels.

No Comments

Leave a Comment

Only registered members can post a comment , Login / Register Here

Read previous post:
When the wind suddenly picks up on Lake Superior … During the Duluth Yacht Club's Wednesday Night Races a boat was pulled into the Aerial Lift Bridge, nearly flipping...