Wednesday, May 20, 2020

In the waterfall

There she is!

Before it all begins, block, wood stains, 
oil paints for tinting, fine brushes
and a lot of courage

The easy part, a bit of walnut stain
on the pine tree and nearly 
transparent satin finish with a tint
of ebony on the rocks

Same light tint of the rocks
add some green oil tint

Same light gray tint with 
blue for the water

All the gory details

Finito! Added some shadows
and some pearl in the waterfall

Showing off texture
and my "chop"

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Monday, May 18, 2020

Just working! Oh and online news

New works in progress

Just about done with a new version of an older work. I changed the name because I can so what used to be "Pine creek" is now "In the waterfall" There isn't a new print, just a deep relief single hand carved basswood block. Staining/painting in progress. Pics of the old print and new version:

In the waterfall getting carved up

Block finished and old(er) print from 
previous block

New in progress

I still participate in exchanges and there is a deadline coming in about 6 weeks. The theme is "colorfield" and so I'm planning a couple of canyon landscapes. The key block will be subdued and the color block will be cut, inked separately and assembled at press. Here are the sketches for the key blocks. I love hiking the narrow slot canyons of the Southwest, they lure you in and they guide you out.

They lure you in
They guide you out

And finally...

Lacking art festivals until at the very least the fall and maybe beyond, I have been busy upgrading online management of my storefronts. First, I acquired a new listing tool that allows me to manage inventory on several fronts; handy little gadget although the learning curve is giving me headaches. I chose SellBrite although there are many others out there. Just seems to fit.

Second, I'm baaaaack on Ebay!!! Oh how I have missed the bargaining, wheeling and dealing, auctioning...just seems a lot more "live" and interactive than a plain ol' online store. Almost like being there with my collectors in person (almost). 

Aside from that, I also have a presence in Amazon Handmade and my main store in Etsy. Links please!

Next is a Shopify store which gives me more flexibility than any online marketplace since it is in essence my website. Working hard on that! 

Seems like a lot of shops but "they say" in this case more is better. So far I sure have seen an increase in sales in all fronts. Just sold this one over the weekend on "the bay" Awesome!

Angry Skies original block
going to a new home!

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

100 Acts of Kindness starts to build

Big Blocks carved, mounted

I named the big blocks: Fly Now Live Be Free 
I had to name them something for organization's sake and 1-5 or A-E just not creative enough for this wild mind. So now we have a poem, each word in itself congruent with the theme, as well as the whole phrase.
Here some pics of the fixing up and mounting

All the blocks carved with one puzzle piece in place
Marlene Vidibor

After carving, the blocks are matched up
side to side and I make corrections to
the design

After the correction, perfect match!

More puzzle pieces arrive

It will be some time before the "whole" takes shape but some blocks are arriving and I dutifully place them in place. Now that I have backing boards glued to the big blocks, I can permanently level them and glue them in place.
Backing glued

I mark the back of the backing
(will be the bottom) with the shapes of
the empty pieces, this way if a particular
piece gives me printing troubles I can adjust
with easy location
Daryl DePry

August Mezzetta

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Tuesday, April 21, 2020

New job! Stocking the store front...

Uncertainty and survival

"May you live in uninteresting times" Chinese proverb

Ah yes indeed, by now you know that my entire spring and summer festival season is cancelled. This translates to no meaningful income for the near future and possibly beyond Labor Day as I got notice that a September show had been cancelled. Guess no miles on the truck this year!

So what to do? I have dog food money but connecting with my audience is sorely missed. As I wrote on my newsletter 1000 Woodcuts Updates (what? you don't get that? more on that in a sec):

Several web projects are coming along as I make my website easier to navigate and bring back the vast information section for printmakers. Teaching myself WordPress and working on organizing content so it can be uploaded once I get everything set up. Exciting brain work! (not really but why not do that in slow times).

Subscribe to 1000 Woodcuts Updates

So, just a suggestion but in the spirit of reconnecting with friends and collectors, I resuscitated my email newsletter: 1000 Woodcuts Updates. I have about 700+ subscribers collected one at a time through art festivals, gallery shows and other online venues. I send it out once a month (ish) or whenever there is something earth shattering that I just have to tell you. So if you want to, just send an email to: updates at with "subscribe" or "add me" in the subject line or body. Presto! Or click here: Subscribe to 1000 Woodcuts Updates


Finally, my online "festival" is looking great! I am in the process of uploading framed works and finished carved blocks to my web shop and that super-boring task is almost done.
I also uploaded some out of print works and larger works as reproductions so people can pick their size and get some fine quality prints of works no longer available. More to come!

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Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Beautiful cherrywood blocks

Why cherry?

Often I get asked why I insist on using cherry wood. My answer is usually that it is the traditional Japanese wood for producing woodblocks for centuries. But the "real" answer is, I like it! 
Not the easiest wood to carve, most wood carvers invariably point out that basswood is softer and easier to work with. If I wanted "easy" I would have gone into selling women's shoes! No, cherry is the wood for me. Amazing grain, amazing variety, every piece in my stash already has a beautiful image in mind, just waiting for me to find it and carve it. 

Cherry is hard, but the grain is tight and allows infinite detail. Tools have to be sharp for sure and wrists and hands will hurt. But it will yield 200, 300 prints if I wanted to, registers beautifully without expanding or contracting and makes beautiful prints. 

Finishing the blocks

The greatest gift is after the print run is done. A cherry block begs to be carved again into a relief carving, which is precisely what I have been doing with my original blocks. Lately, I carve deeper in relief and stain to match the print that the block worked so hard to produce. 

Once carved, I gather the original print if it was a color print and set by the block. Then I use standard stains and some non-standard stain and raw pigment mixes to approximate the color. I apply with brushes and keep rags handy to lighten some areas. Letting the stain into the recesses produces a darker finish, while wiping quickly after applying makes nice highlights and variations in color. 

Soon after all the color stains are applied, I give it a coat of satin polyurethane finish. In some cases I have been using flat polyurethane finish (In the Shallows, below) which allows for the wood to be protected without too much shine. The poly layer also blends the not quite dry stains so that the whole image has the feel of a painting. 


My block collection grows! Here are the latest, some stained some au naturel. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. For a peeksy at all my available original blocks, go here:

Angry Skies, still drying!

Angry Skies detail

Angry Skies detail
In the Shallows, relief carving

Hija del Sol

Hija del Sol detail

Hija del Sol detail

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Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Another big block gets cut!

Deliveries across the pond

First, I am hearing that our friends in far away places are now receiving their blocks. With the current state of the world, that is really awesome news so I am very happy. More printmakers around the wide world getting busy and thinking about kindness. Truly amazing!

One more block gets cut

Two down, one to go. Keep up with all the daily progress here:
I finished the first block last week and now done with the second, or should I say: "Fly and Now are ready to print!"

A little repair job

Today I started on the third block and it was one of those days when I just couldn't be careful enough. So! I take this opportunity to show my method for repairing this particular cherry plywood when the knife takes a slide.
Look for wood fillers that can be "sanded and drilled" after they cure.

One of the areas that needed fixin'
Fortunately, God invented wood filler

This plastic "Wood Dough" is great for
repairs, dries hard and quick

Also needed, a flat or bullnose chisel and

First I carefully "shave" the excess filler
from the offended area

After sanding, I use my magic
marker to re-draw the design. This step
also will show if the cut needs re-filling

Ready to re-cut...CAREFUL! Maria...

Ah, there it is, good as new, never even
know an accident happened

Three types of wood filler that will hold up
to the printing job.
Plastic Wood, Wood Dough and my all
time favorite KwikWood.
The first two can be used right out of the
container. The third needs to be mixed and
kneaded before use but dries and bonds the
hardest of all.

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Monday, March 30, 2020

Artists begin work on Kindness Puzzle

Up to artists now

Carve away!
This is the time when I get to enjoy a bit of a respite while everyone receives their blocks. I did find the time to "un-roughen" and clean up the big blocks. Propped them up and now I will carve the outlines over the next few weeks.

Artists working

These are some of the photos artists have been sending of their sketches and blocks. I am very excited this will be another awesome collection!

Connie Brewer's block in quarantine

Nancy Good's sketches, so far she has 8 sketches!

Martha Knox, OBVIOUSLY happy to get her block :-)

Marlene Vidibor got right too it!

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Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Blocks on the way! Acts of Kindness up to artists now


Set up on the grass so I don't have to sweep! 
Foam insulation supports the block,
no clamping required!

All covered up, cherry dust is highly

Block 1 down, 4 to go!

And there they are! All 98 of them...
bit of sanding, bit of cleaning up
and off they go to their temporary
creative homes

And Mailing...

One last trip to the USPS bulk drop off
and all done! for now

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Monday, March 16, 2020

U-turn! And update on Acts of Kindness puzzle

That was quick...

In a nutshell: drove in pouring rain, checked in to hotel, watched Arizona panic, got cancellation notice from the festival, u-turn! drove in pouring rain back home. Wow, just wow.

So moving right along...

Acts of Kindness Update #8: Upgrade! We MUST flow!

Hello everyone! First and foremost, follow all the gory details in our new and improved headquarters:

Second and most important, making very good progress on transferring the drawing to the blocks. I should be able to mail out in about a week so.

Drawing on the blocks! Soon they will be cut up into puzzle pieces
From 4 blocks to 5 blocks

Propped up and ready to draw


And, as promised in the update header, an upgrade! I was drawing and somehow didn't get enough "elbow room" for everyone's block. Let me explain, the designs for previous puzzles were easily compressible and so I was able to squeeze everyone in. But this time, the butterflies MUST flow out of the hand that frees them. They must! And I can't crunch them up like they are on a traffic jam on the California I-10 trying to get to the beach. No no no, flooowww....

So! I added a big block for a total of five. This means that 1-panel artists will be upgraded to 2-panels and full print artists will be upgraded to 5-panels. Aside from a few more sheets of paper (89 to be exact) and a couple more days of printing, no obstacles that I can see. Mailing weight about the same.

And our butterflies will flow free and unhindered up and up...

That's all for now, onward! Maria

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Tuesday, March 10, 2020

It's a FESTIVAL! oh boy oh boy! Scottsdale Arts Festival March 13-15

At all costs!

Made reservations for this big bad boy Scottsdale Arts Festival March 13-15 way long ago. Since it is prime season in Arizona, I saved huge by prepaying my hotel. And then the COVID19 and the rain came...
Aaahhhhh well, what's a little flu and a little rain (a lot of rain forecasted actually with thunder-boomies and bolts of lightning). But in the art festival world, we're always thinking that THIS festival will be GREAT anyway. Yep.
Look for me under the rain walls in BOOTH 146 - Civic Center Plaza, downtown Scottsdale, Arizona
Been there, done that!

Loaded and revving

So I spent the last few weeks matting and framing and the last few days finding stuff and loading up. Now I'm all packed and rip-roaring to hit the road in the faithful steed. I packed my rain walls (clear vinyl so I can stay dry and still show off my stuff), I packed extra tarps, ponchos and sturdy non-slip shoes. I confess I just got up and grabbed and extra poncho, just in case. Poor truck.
Ah so beautiful in Scottsdale Civic Center Plaza

Art you will see!

Taking the "big ones" and some blocks since serious collectors walk about this particular festival often. 
Baile del Sol




See you there!!!

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Wednesday, March 4, 2020

100 Acts of Kindness: We made it, the fun starts now!

Following your creation: 100 Acts of Kindness

New group in Facebook due to popular request! Join and follow, I will post here too, no worries.

Drawings to be transferred past project (City of the World print)

After transferring to blocks

Chop chop...all the pieces gone!

Project funded, now what?

Within the next couple of weeks, some administration takes place through Kickstarter. All the pledges are collected and any bumps and glitches hopefully resolved quickly. We have quite a few non-US participants which delights me to no end, and those payments take a little longer. After two weeks, I will have a final count of artists so I can start chopping the big blocks into that many puzzle pieces.

Meanwhile, back in the studio...

The precious cherry plywood blocks are cut and I am refining the drawing, will print on paper and then transfer to the big blocks. By "transfer" I mean redraw with charcoal stick first, then commit with Sharpie. Photos  very soon as I make progress.

Ways to follow all the fun

I like to post the work in progress in various places to accommodate most if not all. So here are the places you will see photos, videos and a bit of my ramblings:
This Blog: or (redirects to the blog)
And of course, right here on Kickstarter I will continue to post updates as I have something new and wonderful to tell you.
That's it for now, I'm getting to work! I am very grateful to all participants and supporters for joining me in the puzzle madness.

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Thursday, February 27, 2020

Oh so close! Update #5

Latest news about 100 Acts of Kindness - 4 days left to JOIN US!


First, check out the sketches top of the project main page! Our grand design will be butterflies being released to freedom and flight by a kind hand (or two, yet to decide). Your tiny block may be a butterfly wing, part of the hands, a flower, maybe a swirl in the wind...
3 versions of a possible grand drawing, picture it 6-foot wide by 30 inches tall

I hate marketing...

...but I've been promoting like a mad woman. Direct mail and messaging have been the best producers. So far I've only been kicked out of one Facebook group for excessive posting, LOL! We still have 3 live ads on Facebook and one on Instagram that are getting a ton of clicks into the project and a few are converting. I see a lot of new names and that's a great thing! Lately I have been contacting my best collectors, local galleries and art groups. If just one or two come through, we will be funded very soon! 
Still 5 days left and there is usually a spike in procrastinators at the end, so let's keep our fingers crossed at all times. With your other hand, if you have some artist friends on the verge of signing up, give them a gentle reminder to join us quickly.
That's it! Hopefully in about a week you will receive a "We're Funded!" email and we will proceed from there. The wood panels are here, by the way! So beautiful, I will begin cutting the panels to size this weekend.
Always fearless, Maria

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Sunday, February 23, 2020

Sketches for 100 Acts of Human Kindness

Eternally optimistic

We have 81 artists with 8 days to go in 100 Human Kindness collaboration print!
Today I added two new rewards for people who want to help but can't participate and I already started sketching some potential designs which will be 6 foot wide by 30 inches tall. Yes! the entire print is one of them!

It's a race to the finish from here, hopefully my exhausting promoting will get the project filled with happy participants and we go onward and upward. BE A PART OF IT!

One hand or two?

That is the question I posed on my Facebook Page and I'm getting some interesting comments! 

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Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Project Update #4: 100 Acts of Human Kindness

100 Acts of Human Kindness
Thank you everyone for believing, onward and upward!
3404c07e288c4bfb50a6b5c5384b05b7 original.jpg?ixlib=rb 2.1
Posted by Maria Arango Diener
Feb 19, 2020
Project Page Sign Up:

Backer3x.png?ixlib=rb 2.1

Thank you, it's working!

Thanks to everyone's efforts we are having a very hopeful mini-surge! Getting very close with roughly 12 days to go. Best way to share with your printmaking friends is directly, I'm getting some good results from direct email and messages and I really appreciate all of you enticing your friends into joining us.  I have gone a bit crazy on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and my blog but so far I haven't lost any followers due to puzzle-project-indigestion. Also, we have people helping without participating, which is very generous; that's why they call it crowdfunding! 
We now have 65 backers and some artist-teams totalling 80 artists. And THAT, my fellow puzzle lovers, is enough for the project to go on whether we make funding or not in Kickstarter. More on that later as if we don't fund through Kickstarter things can get a bit messy. But don't panic! That's MY job, ha!
Bottom is the Artist Official Headquarters, bookmark the page and I will direct you there when the time comes.

Onward and Upward

Always the optimist, I already bought wood! I had some left over from a past project but I ordered some brand new delicious planks of cherry plywood. For the project, this means we go on!
Delicious cherry ply sitting on my brave and hopeful press-bed