Woodcut printmaking – patterns from nature with Rod Nelson

Ref: S3D10855

Suitable for all

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About this course

Using West Dean Gardens and work by established artists as inspiration, you will look closely at the patterns found in nature to develop a visual vocabulary for cutting and printing colourful woodcuts.

Course Description

This course introduces you to the basic concepts of relief printmaking using wood, it will familiarise you with the tools and materials involved and help you to create successful colour woodcuts by hand and with a press. No previous experience is needed, and by the end of the three days all basic techniques will be taught sufficiently for students to continue to work at home or in their own studios.

On this course you will learn how to use the tools and materials for woodcut prints in a free and purposeful manner, and how to keep your tools sharp. You will learn how to develop your artistic vocabulary and gain confidence in making woodcut prints. You will make a print using more than one block, to introduce colour, and you will learn about a range of different woods, inks, papers and cutting techniques.

You may wish to bring in drawings, photos or other source materials, or you can work directly from the environment at West Dean. You will then continue to work the block through to the finished print. The tutor will demonstrate techniques and processes throughout the course which you can apply within your own practice.


- To make one or more woodcuts inspired by the patterns found in nature

- To extend the ambition and scope of your existing skills

- To develop the relationship between the choice of medium and the environment in which you work


- To use the tools and materials for woodcut prints in a free, purposeful manner

- To develop an artistic vocabulary within this medium that leads to a successful print

- To help you gain confidence in making woodcut prints

The Learning outcomes

- You will have the skills to cut a block with a degree of artistic control, making blocks for colour printing, and the registration of two or more blocks with precision.

- You will have the knowledge to maintain and sharpen your tools. You will be able to use translucent and opaque inks. You will know how to select suitable blocks, paper and ink for the purpose at hand.

- You will be able to print by hand and with a press.


Arrival Day - this is the first date listed above

Courses start early evening. Residential students to arrive from 4pm, non-residential students to arrive by 6.45pm.

6.45pm: Welcome, followed by dinner (included).

8 - 9pm: First teaching session, attendance is essential.

Daily timetable

Classes 9.15 - 5pm, lunch is included.

From 6.30pm: Dinner (included for residential students).

Evening working - students may have access to workshops, but only with their tutor's permission and provided any health and safety guidelines are observed.

Last day

Classes 9.15am - 3pm, lunch is included.

Residential students are to vacate their rooms by 10am please.

(This timetable is for courses of more than one day in length. The tutor may make slight variations)

Course Materials


  • All tools, wood blocks, inks and good quality basic paper is provided by the tutor. If you wish to print on super fine paper, it is available for purchase from the College Shop along with a variety of other woods and tools.

What students need to bring

  • Apron or overalls
  • Pencil and sketch pad
  • Any materials you may have from the available to buy list

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Thick black ink felt pen
  • Papers suitable for printmaking
  • Sketch pad, A4 or larger
  • Pencil and eraser
  • Chalk


Rod Nelson

Rod is a self-taught woodblock printmaker and has exhibited work in the UK, Germany and China. His mastery of technical skills has developed from many years working as a professional woodworker. He is co-author (with Merlyn Chesterman) of the book 'Making Woodblock Prints' and has enjoyed teaching for many years at West Dean and elsewhere.


Residential option available. Find out accommodation costs and how to book here.

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