Woodcut Artist Mary Azarian

To start off our week of woodcuts, I am showing the work of Vermont artist Mary Azarian, who has over 50 children's picture books to her credit, amongst other work. Azarian's work is beautiful and highly detailed, she is clearly a master at her craft. Azarian says that inspiration comes from her farm and gardens.

A Farmer's Alphabet

From The Four Seasons of Mary Azarian, image via Black and White

Mary Azarian was born in 1940 and grew up on her grandfather's farm just outside Washington D.C. Her interest in gardening developed at an early age and continues to this day. She went to Smith College and studied printmaking with Leonard Baskin, one of the great 20th century printmakers. It was then she began to work on wood and says her interest in the medium has never wavered.

A Gardener's Alphabet

From A Gardener's Alphabet, image via Black and White

Magazine Illustration

Ready For Canning, image via Vita Brevis

Image via examiner

After college Azarian moved to a small hill farm in northern Vermont with her husband Tom. They farmed horses and oxen, kept chickens, sheep and a jersey milk cow. They raised three sons who helped with the large gardens and a maple syrup operation. Those years on the farm became the inspiration for many of Azarian's prints.

The Tale of John Barleycorn, image via Bibliopolis

After teaching for three years in one of the last one room schools in Vermont, Azarian decided to try earning a living from selling her prints. She started working in black and white, printing each block by hand. After a while she started adding color by hand, painting each print. Later Azarian bought an old Vandercook proof press and began using that to produce her prints. In the 70's she started illustrating children's books and now has over 50 to her name. In 1999 she won a Caldecott for her illustrations in Snowflake Bentley.

Snowflake Bentley, image via Read Me A Story

From Snowflake Bentley, image via Children's Book-A-Day Almanac

The Four Seasons of Mary Azarian, image via Black and White

A Christmas Like Helen's, image via Hero's Welcome

From The Four Seasons of Mary Azarian, image via Black and White

Mina Minette

To view a previous post I did on The Man Who Lived Alone, illustrated by Mary Azarian, click here.

Mary Azarian

On her website Azarian states she has returned to the design of black and white woodcuts and is especially interested in working with simple shapes. To see more of Azarian's work, including her black and white gallery, you can view her website here. 

My next post will be about the woodcuts of Antonio Frasconi as they relate to children's picture books. 


  1. I loved Azarian's woodcuts for Snowflake Bentley, but wasn't aware of the magnitude of her work! Nikki McClure's style and work with paper cuts reminds me of Mary Azarian's woodcuts. Two extremely talented artists!

  2. I'm definitely going to have to track some of these down!