Striking New Prints from Tugboat Printshop Reflect on the Mysteries of Nature and Mythology

a woodblock print depicting five daffodils reflected in a pool of water

“Reflecting Narcissus.” All images © Tugboat Printshop, shared with permission

For Valerie Lueth of Tugboat Printshop, the final piece is only one stage of the painstaking yet satisfying process of making woodblock prints. The works emerge from meticulous planning and carving of numerous blocks, which the Pittsburgh-based artist layers on top of one another to achieve a variety of colors, patterns, and striking contrasts.

One recent print “Reflecting Narcissus,” depicts five daffodils reflected in a pool of water. The composition references the Greek mythological character, Narcissus, whose beauty and youth were admired by everyone who looked upon him, even though he didn’t love anyone. That is, until he saw his own reflection in a pool and fell deeply for his image, pining away until he died and was transformed into a flower named for him.

Lueth (previously) is known for creating detailed prints that call on the beauty of nature and folklore, and she revels in the process behind each work, which you can explore more in-depth on her website. She was recently featured in issue 25 of the printmaking magazine Pressing Matters and has two prints currently available for pre-order, including “Ladder Tree,” shown below. Follow Instagram for additional updates.

woodblock carving in progress of daffodils, shown on a work table with tools and held up by the artist's hand

“Reflecting Narcissus” woodblock in progress

a print of daffodils is pulled from the woodblock

Pulling “Reflecting Narcissus” print

two side-by-side images, showing a woodblock of daffodils with yellow and blue ink on it (on the right) and the print made from the block (on the left)

Left: One color block for “Reflecting Narcissus.” Right: The first layer of the print

a print of a tree being pulled from a woodblock

“Ladder Tree” in progress

two side-by-side images of a raindrop print (on the left) and the woodblock that the print was made from (on the right)

Left: “Raindrops.” Right: The woodblock in progress for “Raindrops”

a woodblock carving of a tree with green ink rolled onto it

“Ladder Tree” block

a detail of a woodblock of a leafy tree with a few branches shaped like a ladder

Detail of “Ladder Tree” block

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