Printmaker to demonstrate artistry

During the exhibition of Gustave Baumann’s artwork, visitors to the Indianapolis Museum of Art this winter will see some of the finest woodblock prints created.

At the same time, they can witness a modern artist practicing the time-tested methods that Baumann used more than 100 years ago.

Leslie Dolin, an Indianapolis woodprint maker, is taking part in a special artist-in-residence program throughout the exhibition. She will work in a studio inside the exhibition gallery, demonstrating the art form and leading workshops, letting people make their own prints.

The work she creates during her time will be the subject of its own exhibition on display beginning Dec. 11.

In advance of the opportunity, Dolin shared her thoughts about her unusual art form.

What led you to woodblock printing?

I heard about it initially as a student at Herron (School of Art), where I took a lot of printmaking classes with a focus on woodcut. I alternated between it and painting a lot over the years, but the past few three to four years, my main focus has been printmaking.

What was it about it that captured your interest?

I like the idea of “multiple.” I like that you can have more than one image; that itself makes it more accessible to people. It also gives you a lot of room to experiment. You have these multiple images, and if you want to try different colors, you can.

How does printmaking differ from other forms of art?

The process is much different. For a woodblock printer, it’s pretty complicated, especially if you’re doing multiple colors. It’s like putting a puzzle together — you have to know how each color is going to relate with the color that goes before, and you have to carve to how the colors are going to lay. Then you have to hope for the best.

How did you get the opportunity to do this artist-in-residence program?

I saw it in the Indianapolis Arts Council listings. I skimmed through it and couldn’t get it out of my mind. A couple of months later, I came back to it and decided to just apply.

How did you get ready for the opportunity?

A lot of my landscapes are from northern Michigan, since my family is from there. But I thought since Baumann had worked in Brown County, it would be important to do some work from that area. So I went down there, to Nashville, out to Eagle Creek, all over to capture some local scenery.

What are your thoughts as you head into it?

I’m excited and a little nervous. For me personally, it’s a great opportunity. I’ve been trudging away as an artist for years, so this is great for me for exposure. And it really gives me a great opportunity to expand my work. I’m basically being given this wonderful place, supplies, a press, and I have Gustave Baumann’s work to look at every day.

As a woodcutter, what is your impression of Baumann’s work?

I think his work is phenomenal. To think of how he gets the color he gets with a woodblock, the depth of scale. As a painter, it’s understandable that you could get that effect. But as a woodblock printer, you wonder how he did that. His colors are very vibrant. There’s a luminosity in his woodcuts that you don’t normally find.

Ryan Trares is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at or 317-736-2727.