Melissa West and her etching press

I’m a printmaker today because once upon a time I took a long walk.

That walk was the Camino de Santiago, a pilgrimage trail that stretches for 500 miles across the north of Spain. It was magical: cobblestoned villages, large cities with their soaring cathedrals, rugged mountains, and miles and miles of walking across plateaus of wheatfields with nothing but the sun and my own thoughts for company. At night I stayed in pilgrim hostels in the company of pilgrims from around the world, who over dinner told tales of their homelands, and of the small miracles that we saw each and every day — miracles that still happen daily to us all, but that we’re often too busy or distracted to notice.

When I returned home, I tried to paint my experiences — I had up to that point worked in paint — but it just didn’t seem right. I realized I needed to work in a medium that matched the starkness and antiquity of my journey, and decided to try block prints. I sat down and carved twenty blocks in a row, and found that I loved this new medium. The steady progress of carving echoes the rhythm of walking, and I discovered new horizons in my imagination. Thus began my new journey, and I have never looked back.

Come, take a walk with me.