wood engraving

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Delicately Carved Wood Engravings Are Transformed into Dreamlike Paintings by Matt Roussel

November 3, 2022

Kate Mothes

A wood engraving by Matt Roussel featuring a face in the silhouette of a cat with flowers and a snake.

All images © Matt Roussel, shared with permission

Characterized by the use of specialized tools called burins, gravers, or gouges to carve thin, elegant lines, wood engraving developed in the late 18th century to produce more precise detail than earlier techniques. For French artist Matt Roussel, the linear forms created on the surface of linoleum or wood are just as compelling as the prints that can be made from them. In his series of mounted printing blocks, he highlights the curving textures of lilies sprouting from a scarab beetle or leaves emanating from the body of a trotting horse.

Roussel first sketches directly onto the material and then carefully guides the gouge to produce markings that he likens to brushstrokes. While he often prints black-and-white multiples from the engravings, he began adding acrylic paint to the reliefs and presenting them as original artworks in their own right. Inspired by mythology and ancient motifs, he focuses on connections between culture and nature. “Whether it’s mountains, clouds, plants, and animals, I like to mix all these elements to tell or symbolize stories,” he tells Colossal, describing the painted panels as windows to an imagined realm. “Our world is beautiful, provided you know how to see it from this angle.”

Roussel often has prints available for sale on his website, and you can find more on Instagram.


A wood engraving by Matt Roussel of a scarab beetle with lilies.

A wood engraving by Matt Roussel of a magenta fish.

A wood engraving by Matt Roussel of a horse with leaves flowing off of its body.

A wood engraving by Matt Roussel of two fish with flowers on their bodies.  A wood engraving by Matt Roussel of a school of fish.  A wood engraving by Matt Roussel of a blue beetle with flowers on its body.