Spotlight: Theresa Haberkorn

A Q&A with Denver printmaker Theresa Haberkorn

Theresa in her art studio
Photo by Paul Miller

How it all began…

“As a kid, I would make things with leaves and sticks and mud. And my mom had me doing every craft she could think of. Then my middle-school art teacher in Florida encouraged me to apply to a magnet school for the arts—it had things like dance, theater, music, and theater tech. That proved to be a really good foundation for me; the teachers emphasized that everything starts with drawing. I did painting, ceramics, and photography, but that was the first place where I did printmaking. Then I majored in art in college, at the University of South Florida in Tampa.”

The appeal of woodcut

“I always loved to draw, which I think is a good basis for what I do in woodcut. But printmaking, especially woodcut, is a sculptural medium because you are carving first. You have to almost create a sculpture in order to make a twodimensional printed image. There’s something about the energy and work you have to put into a carving that translates into the print. The fun thing is that once I have a set of blocks carved, I can ink them differently and create different works. I love the medium of woodcut.”

Her inspiration

“I mostly do nature and landscapes. Nature is what initially drew me to Colorado. I garden and draw a lot from what I find in my garden. We also have a birdfeeder outside the window and I take pictures of the birds. I am mostly known for my palette—the greens and other colors from nature.”

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The process

“I often take a photograph and do a sketch from that. Then I transfer it to Baltic birch plywood, which is medium to hard; the harder the wood, the more detail you can achieve. I carve a separate block for each color; then, using a rubber brayer, I apply a thin layer of oil-based printing ink to each block. They’re all printed onto one sheet of paper, and the image is the reverse of what you see on the block. The printing order is light colors to dark. There’s a skill in carving and then a skill in printing. It’s time-consuming, so I usually have a couple of things going at once. But the fun thing about print making is that, once I have a set of blocks carved, I can ink them differently and change the colors.”

Where to see her work

Haberkorn shows at the Cherry Creek Arts Festival every summer; she also participates in open studios in Boulder, with her studio open to the public, and teaches at the Denver Art Students League. You can also see her work on her website, listed below.

Theresa Haberkorn
Denver-based printmaker