Woodcut prints – exploring the process with Rod Nelson


Ref: S3D12545

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About this course

Experiment with this ancient art form as you explore woodcut printing methods. Use a variety of woods and papers, experiment with cutting techniques and print with presses or by hand.

Course Description

Understand the techniques and processes of woodcut printing and gain the confidence to explore the potential of this art form. 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 black and white woodcuts by hand and with a press.

On the first evening you will look at examples of successful woodblock prints. Fundamentals of relief printmaking will be discussed and the safe use of tools. You can then cut and print a small block.

On this course you will:

-Learn how to use the tools and materials for woodcut prints in a free, purposeful manner.

-Learn how to keep tools sharp.

-Develop your artistic vocabulary.

-Experience confidence in making woodcut prints.

-Explore a range of different woods and papers.

-Experiment with cutting techniques.

You will begin by making a test block of marks to help you build a visual vocabulary that will underpin your explorations. From these marks you will start with an initial concept – 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.

Your tutor will demonstrate techniques and processes throughout the course which you can apply within your own practice.

By the time you leave the course, you will have gained the skills to cut a block with a degree of artistic control in black and white, choose suitable blocks and paper, and learned how to make satisfying prints at home. You will take home a series of finished black and white prints with your blocks.


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 until 9pm, 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


  • Inks, wood and paper, with a variety of other woods and fine papers also available to purchase.

What students need to bring

  • Rubber gloves, apron or overalls.
  • You may wish to bring in drawings, photos or other source materials, or you can work directly from the environment at West Dean.
  • Thick black ink felt pen, pencil, eraser and chalk
  • Papers suitable for printmaking
  • Sketchpad, A4 or larger

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • A good variety of art materials including thick black ink felt pens, pencils, erasers, chalk, papers suitable for printmaking and sketchbooks/pads, A4 and larger.
  • Available from tutor:
  • A variety of paper
Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio. This includes stout covered footwear, i.e. no open-toes or sandals.


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.

Courses of interest

Further study options

Take the next step in your creative practice, with foundation level to Masters in Fine Art study. 

Depending on your experience, start with an Online Foundation Certificate in Art and Design (one year, part-time), a Foundation Diploma in Art and Design made up of 10 short courses taken over two years (part-time) or a Diploma in Art and Contemporary Crafts (10 three-day study blocks, over two years). All will help you develop core skills, find direction in your practice and build an impressive portfolio in preparation for artist opportunities or higher-level study. See all degree and diploma courses.

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