I am currently working on a new large scale woodcut. I spent the day today cutting the second of three plates (second in the print order, that is). I wish I could say it was peaceful. Some of these large plates are cut in cabinet grade hardwood plywood. I cut these with a variety of gouges and skew chisels. Today, however, I was working with a construction grade panel product (Oriented Strand Board or OSB). I cut this kind of material with a carbide burr in a high speed, air powered, rotary grinder. So the day passes with the grinder screaming (think a super sized dental drill) and the compressor pounding and the dust collector whirring. I hide behind safety glasses and ear protection with dust and chips flying everywhere, hunched over the plate.
Still, I find the time passes quickly, for I spend much of the time in the zone. I am thinking about how the cuts relate to the drawing. How the non-image areas are shaped (there are always some stray marks that print in these areas, and the way you make the cuts in them affects the image). I am editing the drawing at the same time, deciding what I want to remove and what I want to leave.
Despite all the commotion, it remains an intensely artistic process, one decision after another.