In this collaboration with the Waikoloa Dry Forest Initiative, John McCaskill and the Pacific Island Printmakers immersed themselves in learning about the biology of the tree, the larger context of dry forest ecosystems and its cultural significance. Through a two year process of visiting the forest, sketching, asking questions and gathering impressions, each artist offers their unique expression of the tree through the medium of printmaking. This group of artists is comprised of John McCaskill, Margaret Barnaby, Andrea Pro, Lisa Louise Adams and Kathy Molina. These trees have endured two hundred years of stress and destruction as a result of the introduction of cattle and sheep. What was once a flourishing forest ecosystem populated with an extensive variety of plants, wildlife and insects dwindled to a handful of stately Wiliwili standing in an arid and stark landscape. It is estimated that in all of Hawaii only about 1000 Wiliwili are left, making it a highly endangered tree. Thanks to the planting efforts of the Waikoloa Dry Forest Initiative and their volunteers, the forest is making a comeback and the Wiliwili trees are now surrounded by a variety of young native plants that are growing into a dry forest ecosystem.
PROCESS/TECHNIQUE - THE ART OF CARVING AND PRINTING
Compositions, for my woodcut prints, are created using sketches and photos. Images are scanned and creatively altered, a template produced, and then I transfer it to a woodblock (plate) by hand using carbon paper. I carve the woodblock with Swiss and Japanese gouges, knives and cutting tools; leaving the uncarved surface to be inked and printed (the carved-out areas will not print). Using a brayer, I roll ink onto the surface of the woodblock. The ink is transferred by using manual or mechanical pressure on the back side of the substrate (usually paper). This process is repeated for each color until the print is finished.