Loren Kantor: Woodcutting Fool

I was recently contacted by an artist whose medium of preference is woodcarving.  Loren Kanter is a resident of Los Angeles and contacted me after visiting my website to share several woodcarvings he made of a variety of literary figures.  I was especially excited because Loren had woodcuts of two authors whose work I love: Hunter S. Thompson and Charles Bukowski (thought I’ve only read one book by each author).  Loren also had a woodcut of one of my favorite directors: David Lynch.  I asked Loren to share a little bit of his artwork and his thoughts on his art.  Here is what he wrote (his words are in italics):

 

I’ve always loved the old, the antiquated, the forgotten and neglected aspects of life. 

My interest in woodcuts began in the 80’s when I attended a German Expressionist art show at LA County Museum. I encountered the woodcut prints of George Grosz, Kathe Kollwitz and Max Beckmann. I was mesmerized. I loved the stark lines and bold imagery. I was also blown away by the dark subject matter.  Characters expressed emotional angst and the images focused on the violent and unpleasant aspects of society.  I was writing screenplays in those days and I never envisioned attempting woodcut carving myself.  But the images remained in my subconscious and whenever I saw a woodcut print I felt a sense of excitement.

 

In 2007, my wife surprised me with a woodcutting set for my birthday. I checked out a few online tutorial videos and I dove in, head first. The carving process was difficult at first. I cut myself often, the blocks were ragtag and I felt like a kindergartner with his first set of fingerpaints. But before long I got the hang of it.

I’ve always been attracted to classic writers and old movies.  We needed art for our walls at home so I decided to carve a series of prints inspired by my favorite authors and filmmakers. 

The process begins when I find an old photo or image that I like. From this image I make an initial pencil sketch which I then transfer to a wood or linoleum block. I use standard woodcutting blades, gouges and other odd tools (awls, dental implements, sewing needles.)

 

'Hands of Time', a woodcut to honour the film 'Safety Last'.

Hands of Time‘, a woodcut to honour the film ‘Safety Last’.

Once the image is carved I clean the block, apply a thin layer of ink and hand press the image on archival paper using a Japanese Baren (a bamboo tool that look kind of like an air-hockey paddle). The entire process takes 40-50 hours depending on the size and complexity of the image. If I make a major mistake I have to start over. Minor mistakes I live with; they add to the organic nature of the print.

The process is slow and meditative.  I’ll put on music, immerse myself in the carving and hours will go by in a flash. In these days when everything is moving so fast it’s nice to have an activity that forces me to relax.  In some ways woodcutting has become my personal yoga.

 

Loren’s response ends there, but his works do not.  I have posted several more below and hope the artist may do another guest blog in the near future to share some of his work and inspiration.  Be sure to visit Loren’s site here and show some appreciation for the artist’s work.

 

 

Rambler About Rambler

Jason John Horn is a writer and critic who recently completed his Master's in English Literature at the University of Windsor. He has composed a play, a novella and a number of short stories and satirical essays.

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