The Essence of Things

Many moons ago I was fascinated by the adventures of Everett Ruess, a young man, who traveled isolated deserts and canyons of the West about hundred years ago and then disappeared. Much has been written about him, including some biographies by W. L. Rusho and David Roberts and more recently a more fictional account of the young man by Robert Louis DeMayo: “Pledge to the Wind, the Legend of Everett Ruess”. That one is high on my “to read” list.

I have seen almost more beauty
than I can bear.”

Everett Ruess

Everett was an artist and he managed to support his journeys in part by painting. He also wrote a daily letter to his parents and kept a diary. I have not seen any of his watercolor work, but I have seen reproductions of his woodcuts. They are amazing. Woodcuts are a god’s end for minimalists. They capture the essence of a scene with a minimum of detail. Everett was a master at that.

I became interested in the technique. Since we are living in the 21st century, I decided to make my first woodcut on a computer. That’s not art, you say? You are right. It’s just a fun way to concentrate on the essence of an object. There is a wonderful tutorial by Cheryl Graham on the web and the robin in it has been treated and mistreated hundreds of times. Here is my version.


Since the nights here are getting shorter by around 6 minutes every day, there will be less chance for working on my woodcut skills, but the prints remind me to focus on the essence of things.