Carving out a unique niche in the arts

Cranbrook-based artist Michael Hepher uses woodcut prints to create unique interpretations of subjects, from prints of text and boom boxes, to landscapes of the Alberta foothills.

Cranbrook-based artist Michael Hepher.

Cranbrook-based artist Michael Hepher uses woodcut prints to create unique interpretations of subjects, from prints of text and boom boxes, to landscapes of the Alberta foothills.

Hepher has been working with block prints since 2007.

“It’s an extension of letterpress printing which I started working with in 2004,” he said.

Even though Hepher primarily works with acrylic paint and wood cut prints now, he said he got his start using pen and ink.

“Drawing is a good entry point,” he said. “It’s like how everybody can play soccer, it’s accessible.”

Hepher also said that drawing is a foundation skill for all his other work.

“Even if I’m doing a painting or a wood cut print, it has to be drawn first,” he said.

For the last 15 years, Hepher has been working in the creative industries. He’s done musical recordings of travelling and studio musicians, and he currently works as a graphic designer. But he began as an artist as a child.

“I was entering my work in local art contests. I took home a first place city-wide art award when I was in grade 5,” he said.

Hepher enjoys working with woodcut because of the sculptural element of the medium.

“There are a lot of variables involved,” he said. “Wood cuts push back a bit.”

To create the woodcut, Hepher carves away the negative area.

“It’s an additional challenge because you have to think in the negative. It’s a subtractive medium,” he said.

What Hepher carves out of the wood appears white on the paper.

“I collaborate with the wood on the piece I’m working on. The wood is my partner in a way,” he said.

Hepher’s new works and wood block prints will be on display at The Arts Station along with the Array of Clay exhibit.

“There will be quite a bit of variety,” he said about the exhibit.

Hepher will display samples of the woodcuts he’s done throughout the four years he’s been working with the medium.

People viewing the exhibit will see the transition Hepher has made from working with one colour to working with reduction prints where he uses four to five colours.

Hepher’s works will be shown from Thursday to May 24.