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Lincoln, the Constitution and the Civil War Exhibit: Lee-Davis Print

Creating a Wood Engraving

Exhibit Sponsors

The exhibit was organized by the National Constitution Center and the American Library Association Public Programs Office. The traveling exhibition has been made possible by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Lincoln: the Constitution and the Civil War is based on an exhibition of the same name developed by the National Constitution Center.


The Print

In the Words of the Artist

When I was first approached by Nancy Greco to create a wood engraving of Lincoln for the exhibit, my emotions wavered between excitement and apprehension. Even fear. Lincoln's face has been engraved, photographed, painted, lampooned, and we see it nearly everyday on our currency. How was I to compete with that? Well, like any artist does, I retreated into my process. My personal process includes reading about the subject, looking at pictures from many different angles and from many different eras of the subject's life. Then I get to drawing. Loose sketches, small paintings, fairly developed pencil drawings, and finally my brain sort of goes "click" and I begin to draw with pen (Copic multiliner SP 0.2 for you artists out there) but think in terms of carving with a graver. When I follow this process and I am ready to engrave into wood (no erasing here). I have managed to ingest Lincoln's features into my schema -- that little mole on his cheek, the way his bottom lip juts forward on one side, the deep set eyes and impossible sharp cheekbones -- all fall into place. Once the images begins to emerge, the preparatory work fades into the background and confidence grows within me. In a small way, perhaps I am getting to know Lincoln just a little better through this form of visual meditation.

To learn more about wood engraving from Steven Lee-Davis

Steven Lee-Davis

Wood Engraver and Printmaker

Steven Lee-Davis received his BFA from Goddard College where he studied painting. He attended Massachusetts College of Art and received a Masters in Art Education with a focus in Studio Arts. His post-graduate work included that of a studio assistant with the wood engraver, Barry Moser. He is a member of the Wood Engravers Network and he is a Roycroft Artisan in the field of wood engraving. He maintains a studio at the Printing and Book Arts Center in Rochester, New York.

He has taught extensively, ranging from early childhood to adults, and has sold work throughout the country.

His works can be found at:

  • Memorial Art Gallery Shop
    Rochester, NY
  • Coppershop Gallery
    East Aurora, NY
  • Main Street Arts Gallery
    Clifton Springs, NY