April, High Desert
April, High Desert is a color reduction woodcut from 1998 by American printmaker Gordon Louis Mortensen (born 1938). It is pencil signed, titled, dated, and editioned 100/120. It was printed by the artist in 32 colors using 26 press runs on ivory Rives heavyweight wove paper and the image measures 10 x 8 inches.
Between February and April, wildflowers transform California's high desert into a vibrant colorful canvas. Some of the species of wildflowers blooming during this short season include Parish's Poppy, Hairy Desert-Sunflower, Desert Lily, Sand Verbena, Dune Evening Primrose and Indigo Bush.
Originally a portrait painter, Mortensen abandoned that media for reduction woodcutting, achieving the creative freedom he desired. He is one of a few practitioners of this method in the United States. He commented on his reduction process: "Only one woodblock is used. On it an image is drawn in India ink. Before the first color is printed, any areas that are to remain unprinted (white or the color of the paper) are cut away from the surface of the block. Then an oil base ink is used to print the first color on all of the sheets of paper that are to be used for the edition and proofs. After the first printing the block is again cut, removing any surface of the block that is to remain of the first color in the finished print. After each subsequent color is printed, the block is cut again, the process continues until the print is finished, and most of surface of the block is cut away."
Gordon Louis Mortensen was born near Arnegard, North Dakota in 1938. He received his B.F.A. with Honors in 1964 from the Minneapolis School of Art and he was enrolled in graduate studies at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul between 1969 and 1972. He is a member of the Boston Printmakers and has produced membership prints for the Albany Print Club and the Print Club of Rochester.
Gordon Mortensen holds an impressive record of solo exhibitions and has been included in numerous competitions and exhibitions. He is represented in the collections of the Brooklyn Museum, the Carnegie Institute, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Portland Art Museum, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, the Walker Art Center, and the Worcester Art Museum.