The Power of Process: Rings and Sapwood

Woodcut print by Bryan Nash Gill

Woodcut print by Bryan Nash Gill

After I returned home from my wooded adventure (see the last post), I became entranced with Bryan Nash Gill’s tree prints.

His prints are collected in a new book, WOODCUT (Princeton Architectural Press, 2012). Gill’s work is entirely process-oriented. To create a print, he doesn’t just go up to a perfectly cut tree and lay a paper on top of it.

Instead, he cuts, sands, burns and carves before he ever gets to print a tree.

In an interview with The Morning News, Gill says he is satisfied only “when the print sings.” He doesn’t say he is satisfied when he’s put in five or 500 hours. He proceeds with his work until it shows the mystery and beauty of the tree, UNTIL he has created or captured what he needs it to be.

Creative work is primarily exercising a muscle. Gill’s work reminds me of this. If you want to be strong in your writing, you will allow and encourage the steps and the method. Creating something just right takes time.

Perhaps once in a while you’ll get a brilliant first draft, aesthetically, aurally, orally, and linguistically, but most of the time, prepare to be immersed in the process, to slowly carve your way in and out of those rings of thought.

For more on Gill’s work, visit Surface and Surface, or check out The Daily Beast for a Gill print paired with a poem by Dottie Grossman, a writer who made her writing life out of brevity of thought.

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