Artist Demo: Woodcuts on the Waterfront with Charles Norris

September 27, 2023

Join us on September 27th for an Artist Demo with Charles Norris! Using selected images and recent hand-carved blocks, Charley will demonstrate his approach to creating woodblock prints with traditional tools and materials, focusing on waterfront and maritime inspirations. He will describe personal interests in printmaking and his approach to selecting maritime print subjects. Several examples of maritime images will be used, with reference to preparation of blocks for carving, demonstration of carving tools and techniques, and concluding with the process of inking and printing of a selected block. The prints will be pulled on the Concord Art press, with a supplemental demonstration of hand-pulled prints. In conclusion, he will present multiple examples of carved blocks and prints, showing different types and sizes of prints with maritime themes. The printed work is based on many years of exploration and photography of various coastlines and harbors, as well as attention to the associated flora and fauna of the waterworld. 

Included in the discussion will be anecdotes of his personal journey with references to growing up in a nautical family, the influences and advantages of an architectural career, and his continuing passion for combing the beaches and waterways of New England and the Seven Seas.

Image: Nightwatch III, woodblock print, 12 x 30 inches

Charles Norris is a printmaker, photographer, architect and urban designer who lives and works in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Popham Beach, Maine. Interests in photography and watercolor painting developed through design school studies in architecture and urban design. Since 2010 he also has practiced the art of woodblock printmaking at Miller Street Studios  in Somerville, MA. He continues to experiment with various relief techniques for interpreting his drawings and photograps through printmaking, focusing largely on waterfront, architectural, and environmental subjects. Mr. Norris’s woodblock prints and photos have been selected for multiple juried shows including the Boston Printmakers Biennial, Danforth Museum in Framingham, the Chandler Gallery in Cambridge, and Concord Art. He has also exhibited his prints annually at the Popham Beach (Maine) Art Show, which focuses on regional marine artists, at the Paul Dietrich Gallery in Cambridge, and at the Green Lion Gallery (Bath, ME). His woodcuts and photos are also included in numerous private collections.

In his printmaking, painting, and photography, Mr. Norris has been guided by his design education, informed by his professional practice as a waterfront planner and architect, and inspired by what he sees and experiences along shores. The integration of visual arts with architecture and urban design has been a lifelong interest, stimulated by his interdisciplinary architectural and urban design teaching at the Kingston (UK) College of Art, Bennington College, and Northeastern University. Mr. Norris has been a steadfast advocate for the interweaving of public art with urban design and architecture, professionally including service on the Cambridge Public Art Commission and the Cambridge Arts Council Advisory Board.

Mr. Norris is a founding principal of Norris & Norris Associates, an urban planning and design practice which he shares with his partner, architect and painter Diane Charyk Norris. For the past twenty-five years, the practice has specialized in waterfront projects, with expertise in planning and architectural projects, as well as passenger ferry system design, port planning, and waterfront adaptation to climate change. For Mr. Norris, architecture, photography, painting, and printmaking have always been inter-related passions, with his camera serving as a critical connective medium in the creative process. As an inveterate beachcomber and sailor, marine environments have been the central focus of Mr. Norris’s photography and watercolors for many years. More recently, marine subjects and wildlife images have also been a primary inspiration for many of his woodblock prints.