The Process

Sketch Process

How I Create Art

I notice that people often talk about the creative process as though it’s a lightning strike of visionary inspiration. For me it’s more like a daily process of curiously noticing everything that comes my way. When I’m paying attention to the details eventually a few of life’s seemingly random dots start to connect up into an insight or idea. A significant aspect of my creative process involves learning something new. I love learning almost anything new, with the exception of math.

While the first part of creativity is simply my way of living life, the next part is more focused on an outcome. I research my topic. I sit down with a cup of coffee and all of my Hawaiiana and botany books. Usually I’ll spend some time hanging out with our friend google, and often I reach out to botanists for information. Jen Lawson, a botanist and Executive Director of the Waikoloa Dry Forest Initiative ( is one of my favorite go-to experts for info on plants.

At this point, I’m very focused inside myself finding the story. As I gather more information and it melds with my insight and idea, the storyline of the image begins to form.

The next part is sketching. For me, and many artists, there is great joy, and also tension in this part of the process. A blank sheet of paper is scary! I have to stay in the moment and not expect to come up with a final sketch. I use a daily productivity planner to keep me on task with my work, but never, never will you see an entry like “finish coral reef sketch” in my “do list”.

When I’m sketching an image I’m mostly focused on creating a beautiful composition and thinking about what to include or exclude. I’ve learned to keep returning to the sketch no matter what roadblocks seems to arise.

For me creativity is quite simply about paying attention, receiving the idea and then nose to the grindstone working out the details. Your process will be uniquely your own. If you are learning to cultivate your creative process, I’d suggest noticing your own natural way of learning and taking in inspiration.  Notice your emotions, your thought processes and how you feel in your body. And then build on those habits and strengths until you began to experience a natural and more structured pathway to joyful creative expression.

Fear Jcp Jpg

Fear as Fuel

I don’t know that we can “lose” our fear. We are wired to feel fear as a way to protect ourselves. Unfortunately our primal brain doesn’t distinguish between bears and a blank piece of paper. I often feel some level of trepidation when I’m facing uncarved wood blocks and blank piece of paper with little more than an interesting idea and a big feeling of inspiration. I don’t move away from my fear- I meet it and breathe into it. And then I choose to connect fully to my inspiration and trust that life wants to express something totally cool and it needs ME to do it. It needs YOU too……

Just Kids

Just Kids

All of us are artists of some kind or another. Life wants to express through us and we are the conduit. Our job is to sustain connection to that impulse, or voice or niggling inspiration and let it bloom.

I loved this book “Just Kids”. Patti Smith’s writing is poetic and expresses so beautifully the collaborative relationship between her and the amazing photographer Robert Mapplethorpe when they were young adults finding their way as artists in New York in the sixties. They paved the way for a new era of self expression through their own journey of dedication to discovering life by moving beyond the cultural limits of the previous era.


The Art of Printmaking

Many people are familiar with printmaking based on having carved and inked a linoleum block in elementary school. The basic idea behind the printmaking process is that an image incised or carved on a block or plate will be transferred to paper when inked and run through a press. In the Western world, printmaking originally was used as a medium of communication, evolving in the 19th century into an art form in which printmakers produced limited and signed editions of their work. Because this process is done by hand, all the prints are originals.

Other printmaking processes I use include monotype, drypoint, and collograph. Monotype is a painterly approach in which ink or paint is applied in various ways to a plate, and each print is a one-of-a-kind original. Drypoint involves incising a copper or plexiglas plate, then inking and wiping; a process that imprints linear details. Collograph involves creating a plate by gluing paper, fabric, or other material to a surface creating unexpected texture and details.

The Process of Woodcut Printing

The Sketch

Honeybee Sketch

The process of a multiple-block print begins with a sketch that will be transferred to a block of wood. The carved image on the block will print as a mirror image on paper, so printmakers learn to think in reverse.


The Wood


I select wood specifically for the grain and how this will contribute to the image. I use mahogany with its dramatic and visible grain for my background blocks. Fine-grained birch is used for my detail block. Look for the background textures and weaves created by the wood.

Carving The Blocks

Andrea With Blocks

Next I transfer the image to the blocks making decisions about which part of the image goes on individual blocks. Usually each block is designated as having a single color, or two, and part of the image, and a print may require several blocks. All of the blocks will be printed on a single sheet of paper, completing the entire image with all of its colors.


Andrea Inking

The paper is prepared by tearing it down to size and marking the top and bottom with registration marks that match the marks on the face of the blocks.


Andrea Pulling Print

After the first rough carving of the blocks, this is the process of experimentation with color, press pressure, and amount of ink. I often pull five or more prints adjusting the carving and colors until I get the print that looks right. This image is the called the “proof” and this is the prototype for the entire edition. I sometimes produce “varied editions” in which I deliberately use a variety of color schemes. These are denoted by the “EV” after the number.

Editioning the Print

The “edition” refers to the group of prints that will be produced from these blocks. Editioning is the structured and rhythmic process of printing the blocks onto paper in sequence, finally arriving at the completed print.

What do the numbers mean?

Near the signature, each print is marked with numbers indicating the order in which it was pulled and the total number in the edition. 2/20 means this is the second in an edition of 20 prints.

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