Let me just start with this.  My house is a mess. Christmas is coming, shoppers parade, and life feels festive and harried and just a little bit stressed. I’m working and creating and trying to bake a little on the side.

I am increasingly in the throes of illustrating this alphabet.

This project has been a lesson in seeing. Ironic, really, as I consistently look at things closely.  A sucker for the visual, I get lost in watching people interact, in the swatch of blue in autumn leaves, at the way the sunlight tracks across the brick of a building. For the alphabet, seeing has been about remembering how to see in black and white. I grapple with creating contours using the shape of a shadow or the appearance of light. When drawing for the block I often change my photos to grayscale, and this helps me to see shapes better. I also draw directly on my photos, shading in the darkest areas so I can more clearly see shape definition.

I feel myself longing to bring in another color. I’d love to produce multi-color block prints down the road. Perhaps later I’ll print this alphabet series again and add a color wash.

I’m beginning to think toward type in the book, and toward layout and title.

And please note: I really love the chicken. In looking at the prints days later, I see areas I want to define. A thinner line, less black. In the chicken print I need to clarify the egg and eliminate the texture underfoot, which started as a chicken wire but needs to turn into ground. There were moments when carving this block when all fell into place. I love that: moments in art when lines appear effortlessly, almost on their own and the only sound is the circular rhythm of blades shaping. A joyous feeling. It doesn’t last long, but it is the reason I do this. That feeling is what I long for. It often comes late, and usually only when I stop looking for it. It is the joy of doing my work.

I’m pleased with the curtain. Again, some fine-tuning. The curtain shape intimidated me, mostly because I knew that it had to be spare in order to define the fabric. Fine-tuning is slow work. A small tweak here, then print. A slight shift in shape, and print again. Most of the carvings so far are close enough to move to the next letter.

So I keep moving forward. Feels good, mostly. This week I’ll have several days of carving at least two blocks per day, so I’ll be busy drawing and carving and hopefully baking some cookies. On Thursday I am looking at a potential studio space. And I’ll definitely be watching for snow.


Does anyone have an idea for yesterday, or tunnel?

Jennie Nuese is an artist and designer living in Madison, WI. Following a childhood spent in small town Iowa and several stints of travel, she landed in Wisconsin where she attended UW Madison, graduating in Geography. Today she works in a range of mediums, from photography to paint to collage and printmaking. Drawn to meanings often reticent in simple daily life, her work reflects the textures, shadows and beauty of life as she has experienced it.

All content on this page is copyright of the featured artist.

Check out other posts featuring Jennie Nuese on the Library as Incubator Project:  Guest Blogger Jennie Nuese: ABC Week One, and The Journey Within: Community Art Exhibition at Monona Public Library

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