When he was a young child, Neil Peck became interested in printmaking from watching his parents make their own Christmas cards.
“Throughout my childhood I remember my parents printing their own linoleum-cut Christmas cards,” he said. “This more than anything made me want to be a print artist. My mother was an art historian so we always had art books around the house. She also introduced me to the woodcuts of Albrecht Durer and other wood engraving artists.”
Today, Neil makes block prints by carving on the hard, dense end-grain of wood or a hard polymer resin. The process is wood engraving as opposed to woodcut or linoleum cut print making.
“I would describe my artistic style as realistic or naturalistic. The contrast of strong blacks and whites combined with delicacy of line in wood engraving gives it an infinite range of color and texture that I find fascinating.”
From the carved blocks, Neil uses an old, hand-cranked printing press to make the final prints. “It is an intricate process involving many fine adjustments to the pressure in different areas of the block. I increase pressure to strengthen areas of solid black and lighten pressure in areas of fine-cut detail.”
He began making his own linoleum cut Christmas cards in 1996 and made his first wood engraving in 2005. Four years later, he decided to expand beyond the annual Christmas cards and pursue wood engraving and printmaking as a serious calling.
While largely self-taught, Neil sought out Carl Montford, a master wood engraver and printer in Seattle. "I was able to get a few good lessons which I still draw upon today. Through Carl’s influence I also bought my printing presses and taught myself to print on them.”
Neil’s work has gained recognition in regional and national exhibitions even though his total output of prints is relatively small.
“My mission is to create art that is joyful in spirit, universal in nature, and that is accessible and affordable to others. Inspirations include the birds, animals, and mountains of my native Pacific Northwest.”