Wisconsin-based artist Nick Wroblewski expresses his intimate connection with nature and fly-fishing environs through the woodblock prints he creates. When I look at Wroblewski’s work I feel as if I’ve made an intimate discovery; that I’ve stumbled upon a quiet and hidden place. It’s as if I’ve stepped out of a dark thicket into the cool and peaceful dignity of a canopied trout stream, or crested a ridgeline to find a noble and expansive landscape that drifts past a distant river to the horizon beyond.
Many of Wroblewski’s images depict the trout waters of Wisconsin’s Driftless Area. In these images, I’m often elevated above the stream, looking down upon the water as if scouting for fish. I feel the warm dappled sunlight upon my face. I hear a soft breeze wind its way over the landscape, and the quiet persistence of moving water.
Wroblewski finds limitless inspiration for his work in the natural world where he lives.
“I am inspired by fleeting moments of beauty; the recapitulation of living form, gesture, and the grace of wild things. Whether it’s the way light falls across a landscape, the fluid motion of a fish or the sweeping symbolism of the entire hydrological cycle, I am compelled to accurately express what’s happening around me.”
The elemental process of woodblock printing is a difficult and time-consuming method of expression that yields multiple-colored images from a series of carved wood plates. It has changed little in a thousand years.
Each color in the finished image is created from a single pass of the inked block through a printing press. As the colors are printed, the blocks are carved away, and once a block is taken to the next stage the previous color cannot be repeated.
“The reduction method of printmaking requires a full commitment,” says Wroblewski. “It is a leap of faith.”
Wroblewski grew up in a community of artists, including his parents, and creating art was a natural part of every day. From an early age he was encouraged to create with his hands, and challenged to look for creative and unorthodox ways of problem solving.
With the realization that he could live an artistic life, Wroblewski launched himself on a continual creative quest; he attended an arts high school and went on to study visual arts in college.
After college Wroblewski worked at a printmaking cooperative while living in Minneapolis. But for the most part, he says, he taught himself the specific form of woodcut printmaking that he now pursues.
When asked what was next, Wroblewski told me that he wants to push his technical ability by working on a very large scale, and also plans to make some woodcut maps—in the Old World tradition—that depict Wisconsin’s Driftless Area, where he currently lives, works, and hopes to do more fly-fishing.
If you’d like to see more of Wroblewski’s work, visit his Web site, www.nickwroblewski.com.