Mary Azarian Woodcuts

I grew up on my grandfather’s small farm just outside Washington, DC. Grandpa had a few thousand chickens and a flock of geese that menaced the customers who came to buy his eggs. My uncle grew vegetables and had a farmstand. My interest in gardening developed at an early age and continues to this day. I spent many days exploring the woods and fields on my pony, Patsy, shown on left.

I began drawing and painting at an early age and fell in love with woodcuts when I did my first relief print in the fourth grade. It was a 3”X4” lino block of an angel with “NOEL” at the bottom. It was a valuable lesson in the need to reverse words when doing a woodcut. The finished print read “LEON”.

Undeterred, I continued to do lino cuts until I got to Smith College where I studied printmaking with the one of the great 20th century printmakers, Leonard Baskin. I began to work on wood and have never lost my enthusiasm for the medium.

After graduating from college I moved to small hill farm in northern Vermont. My husband, Tom, and I farmed with horses and oxen, kept chickens, a Jersey milk cow and sheep and, for a very short time, a goat. We raised three sons who helped with our large gardens and maple syrup operation. It was a wonderful life and a great way to bring up children. These years on the farm became the inspiration for many of my prints. Shown at right is a haying scene.

After three years of teaching in one of the last one-room schools in Vermont, I decided to see if it would be possible to earn a living selling woodcut prints. I began producing prints in black and white, printing each block by hand. Eventually I began adding color by hand-painting each black and white print, a non-traditional approach, to say the least. Finally, I found an old Vandercook proof press, the Rolls Royce of proof presses, and began using it to produce the prints. Below is a picture of it.

In a few instances a block proves difficult to print and I have a small offset print shop in Barre, VT produce the print. Each print, whether printed offset or by hand is individually hand painted by me. If a print is offset printed, I note that in the information about each print on this site.

Mary AzarianIn the 1970’s I begun to illustrate children’s books and have produced over 50 books, including Snowflake Bentley, which won the 1999 Caldecott Award for the best illustrated picture book of the year.

After many years of producing hand painted prints, I returned to the design of black and white woodcuts based on my experience of 50 years of printmaking. I am especially interested in working with simple shapes. Please visit the black and white gallery to see some of my work in black and white.

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