Killion’s High Sierra

Hand carved and printed images of the California Landscape

February 17, 2019 through March 31, 2019

In keeping with our mission of showing and representing only the finest artisans, The Ansel Adams Gallery is pleased to present an exceptional body of work by California printmaker, Tom Killion. For almost 50 years Tom has created intricate California landscapes from hand-carved woodblocks. It is hard to overstate how rare this accomplishment is in today’s fast-paced world. As Tom recently told us, “…even in Japan the ability to sketch, carve and print the landscape using these centuries-old, artistic traditions is quickly dying out.” The younger generation doesn’t seem to have the time, patience or inclination to learn these unique and difficult skills from the past. The beauty of his work has long been appreciated by critics and the wider public, resulting in many museum and gallery exhibitions over the course of his career. Born and raised in Mill Valley on the slopes of Mt. Tamalpais; among his influences are the Japanese ukiyo-e landscape masters Hokusai and Hiroshige, and European and American wood engravers, such as Eric Gill and Rockwell Kent.

  • Sierra Junipers
  • Mt. Thoreau from Piute Pass

See all Exhibition Prints

Have a few extra dollars?  You could be a producer!
Donate now to help sponsor final production costs of Journey to Hokusaia feature-length documentary that intimately follows an artist’s (Tom Killion) creative process and discovery of the origins of his art, made by award winning filmmaker, Chikura Motomura.

Deeply touched by Hokusai’s prints when he was just a child, Killion long held a dream – to go to Japan to learn a hand-printing technique from a master printer.  Started in 2018, Journey to Hokusai is a feature-length documentary by filmmaker Chikara Motomura that intimately follows Tom Killion’s creative process as he discovers the origins of his art working with Kenji Takenaka, a 5th generation printer in Kyoto.

Tom Killion carves the blocks for his Japanese-style woodcut prints using Japanese hand tools which he sharpens on Japanese water stones. Killion uses an array of 20 tools, handling them in a “Western” manner, and spends up to 40 working hours to create a large and elaborate key block.

Pulitzer-prize-winning poet Gary Snyder and Tom Killion have collaborated on three award-winning books – The High Sierra of California, Tamalpais Walking: Poetry, History and Prints, and California’s Wild Edge: The Coast in Prints, Poetry and History – published by Heydey Books.

When asked what it was about woodcut printmaking that best communicated the spirit of a place, Killion responded, “The process frees you from this difficulty that artists have: when you draw, and paint, you see exactly what you’re doing. With the printmaking process, you don’t at all. You’re using a different medium, and doing everything in reverse to eventually lead to a picture, and it takes on its own life. Even though I’ve done well over 500 prints, I am always surprised at how things come out.”

Marin Magazine, Calin Van Paris, July, 2015