Unique woodburning art on exhibit

"Portrait" is a tinted woodburning with collage by Kendra Morrison.

Reception part of monthly First Friday art walk

SANTA CRUZ — Artist Kendra Morrison currently has an exhibit showing of her unique tinted woodburning with collage art pieces at the Santa Cruz County Building.

The 10 works span topics from portraits to landscapes, and birds to musicians. She describes woodburning as “a process incorporating pyrography of burning an image into wood using heat. Morrison utilizes the woodburning tool to develop an array of marks to build up the patterns and textures incorporated to develop a highly detailed, dynamic images. Layered transparent stains and collage bring out the unique grain of the wood and accentuate the details of the image.”

Morrison, who is a fifth grade teacher in Scotts Valley, said she went to art school in the early 1990s and then moved to California from the Midwest.

“I began developing this process four years ago,” Morrison said. “It started out very simple and has evolved over time as I have experimented with the tool and a variety of materials. I have been grateful for the response it has received from our community.”


ABOVE: "At Night Falls" is a tinted wood burning piece with collage by Santa Cruz artist Kendra Morrison currently showing on the first floor of the Santa Cruz Building. The exhibit runs through Dec. 21.

“My dad died about eight years ago and that propelled me into my art,” she said. “I was making cards, watercolors and oil paintings and I kind of wanted a change, something different in my art.”

Morrison said an unexpected and welcome change came into her life when her son brought a woodburning tool home from a school project. She said the tool was thrown into a cupboard. One day she spotted the tool and said, “It dawned on me to try to draw with the tool. It took me a while. I tried different kinds of wood; and then I found a soft birch panel and learned it was the perfect medium.”

From there, Morrison said, drawing with the woodburning tool evolved. She tried a wash with water on top of the burns and started to notice how the grain changed colors and took on a new texture. That’s when she started applying different stains, and sanding the surface, applying more water washes and stains until she found a layer of textures, including the grains of the natural wood, that complemented her overall image.

“I’m really careful in selecting my wood panels now and have even started making the images around the grain,” Morrison said.

On top of that Morrison said she has incorporated layers of collage using images and graphics torn out of old books, maps and science books.

As far as inspiration goes, she said: “I’ve always loved the figure and I love birds, which I see as incredible creatures. I’ve always been a figurative artist at heart. Each piece has a story. My faith also plays a huge role in my work and my vision. It’s very meditative.”

As part of the monthly First Friday art walk, Morrison said she and two other artists will take part in the free event in an artist’s reception, from 5-7 p.m. at the Santa Cruz County Building today at 701 Ocean St.

First Friday also spreads out around the city at more than 40 galleries, studios and businesses in a free, casual, meet-the–artist setting.

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