Relief printmaking with Victoria’s Nicholas Vandergugten

Vandergugten will teach some workshops at McTavish Academy of Art in March.

Victoria Artist Nicholas Vandergugten with his work.

Victoria Artist Nicholas Vandergugten with his work.

Victoria Artist Nicholas Vandergugten will be heading out to North Saanich in March to teach an introductory printmaking course, something that’s been evolving.

“Each institution that I teach with, the participant has different levels of interest. Sometimes more professional development and sometimes more for fun, entertainment or exploration,” he said.

Having taught classes before at McTavish Academy of Art, Vandergugten said he finds it to be a lot more one-on-one with people.

Rather than teaching with a formulaic approach, he said he prefers to work individually with people, talking about their interests.

“We talk about what we want to do and then I work individually throughout the day with everyone and get them going on whatever aspect of printmaking they’re interested in doing.”

He specializes in relief printmaking, one of the oldest methods of reproducing an image.

“A really early example would be stone carvings that would then be used as relief, so they’d put a piece of paper or something on top of it and rub the paper with charcoal or something like that.”

Relief printmaking, he said, is a type of reduction printmaking where you carve the surface of something and apply ink to it. He said unlike other art forms that are usually additive, like painting, where one adds colour, relief printmaking starts with a black or solid surface and cuts away the areas where the ink won’t be touching.

“It requires some different types of thinking using the brain in a bit of a different way.”

Vandergugten started out being a printmaking artist seriously almost 10 years ago and now embraces lots of other media.

He initially began with doing a bit of illustration and work in pen and watercolour painting when he was younger, but found that relief printmaking flipped the creative process on its head.

“You spend a lot of time drawing and preparing and thinking about what you want to do, and then when you make the carved image, it’s essentially a very simple process.

“There’s a very obvious end. If you carve away too much you have nothing left.

“It’s also very bold,” he said.

What he enjoys most is single plate relief printmaking, which is one of the most simple things one can do. It’s black and white, which allowed him to think about form instead of line and how to reduce what’s important in an image and how to find out what that is and use it.

“For me it was very freeing. Ironically, having less at my disposal just made the process much more enjoyable and freed me up.”

Vandergugten has since expanded and has a very active painting practice and is back in the realm of any possibility.

His workshop, titled Simply Profound Relief Printmaking, will take place March 4 and 5 at McTavish from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

To sign up call 778-351-0088.