Maude Kerns Art Center, a small private art school in Eugene Oregon, actually launched my lifelong passion for block printing. My parents sent my brother and I there for summer art classes when I was just out of third grade, mainly to occupy us while our dad pursued higher education at U of O summer school.
I loved the place instantly and can still smell that wonderful aroma of linseed oil and creativity.
The teachers were young and hip and made it a lot of fun – our sculpture teacher told us he did not
own a tv because it was too negative. This introduced us to counterculture and liberal ways of thinking
at a very impressionable age. I was only 7, but the printmaking teacher trusted us with sharp tools.
I learned to carve linoleum blocks with those little Speedball carving tools with interchangeable blades.
This led to making my own greeting cards, which I still do, and got me started on the path to bigger and
better blocks. I already loved drawing and painting, but the blocks gave everything a new dimension,
I was completely hooked.
The anticipation and magic I experienced while pulling my own little hand carved prints made me fall in
love with the process. The rudiments I learned in that class formed my basis of understanding of the
craft. My teacher was really sweet and patient, an unforgettable experience that has really stuck with
me through the years.
The school is still there in the same spot in a sleepy college campus neighborhood in Eugene- it looks exactly like it did back then.