On view is a selection of Tom Killion’s vibrant multi-colored prints created from original Bay Area landscape sketches utilizing wood blocks and a combination of traditional Japanese and modern techniques. His resulting pieces fuse the landscape prints of early 19th century Japan with early 20th century wood engraving and book illustration from Europe and America. Killion’s often elaborate, multi-colored images are printed on handmade Japanese kozo papers using oil-based inks and a German hand-cranked proofing press.
Tom Killion is a Mill Valley native whose perspective on art is informed both by his Bay Area roots and his international bent. He graduated from UC Santa Cruz in the 1970s and completed a doctorate on Ethiopia at Stanford in the 1980s while continuing to make woodcut prints of the California landscape, producing his large-format The Coast of California in 1979. Later, Killion worked as administrator of a medical relief program in a camp for Ethiopian refugees in Sudan, traveled with nationalist rebels in war-torn Eritrea, and in 1990, after many years of work, produced Walls: A Journey Across Three Continents—an extensively illustrated travel book combining his African experiences with woodcut printmaking. In the late 1990s Killion collaborated with Pulitzer prize-winning poet Gary Snyder on a hand-printed, large-format book, The High Sierra of California, which was published in 2000 and issued as a trade edition in 2002. In 2009 the two completed a second book, Walking Tamalpais. Tom lives in Point Reyes, California, with his wife and two children. He is currently completing a new version of the Coast of California with over 80 images and an entirely new “Poetic History” text.
Bolinas Ridge Sunset
Tom Killion: “My landscape prints develop from an intuitive, largely unplanned, interaction between the observed world of nature and the created world in my art studio. They always begin with on-site sketches, where I immerse myself in the scene, sitting with it, finding the lines that give it depth and clarity. Once I decide to turn a sketch into a print, back in my studio, these lines become the structure of the image. Then the work begins to develop along its own lines, growing a life of its own, as initial color blocks inform the direction of subsequent color layers. Finally, when the dark key block is printed over all the colors, the picture completes itself, never exactly as I had envisioned it, but often somehow more evocative of the scene I was originally so entranced with. That is the magic of printmaking.”
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