(Above: A recent visitor to the White Lotus Gallery immerses herself in prints, sculpture and paintings of gardens, including “Prime Spring,” a mezzotint by Katsunori Hamanishi, part of a show that runs through June 23; photo by Paul Carter)

By Randi Bjornstad

“New Autumn,” a 1967 print by Okiie Hashimoto, is part of the show at the White Lotus Gallery

The sudden spring burst of brilliant green punctuated by vivid flowers finally has arrived outdoors, and inside the White Lotus Gallery there’s an exhibit called Cultivating Nature: The Art of the Garden, that lauds the season and celebrates the artists who portray it.

It’s a large show, featuring beautiful prints and paintings by some of gallery owner HP Lin’s finest represented artists — among them a cloud of butterflies by Chizuko Yoshida, mysterious moonlit scenes by mezzotint artist Katsunori Haminishi, and soothingly delicate Japanese woodblock prints of Zen gardens by Okiie Hashimoto.

Dale Mueller’s indoor-outdoor sculptures are part of a show at the White Lotus Gallery

It also includes a number of reduction linocut prints by local artist Connie Mueller and several garden sculptures crafted from copper-clad blocks of redwood and cedar by her also-artist husband, Dale Mueller.

“I had known that Dale (Mueller) was working in this medium,” Lin said. “When I was planning the theme of this show, I was at his studio one day, and I thought it would be a wonderful way to show his work along with all this other art about gardens.”

Both Dale and Connie Mueller expanded their artistic efforts after retirement, and both have been exploring — in different ways — the artistic method called “reduction,” Lin said.

Dale Mueller, who before his 2003 retirement worked for Moshofsky Truss Co., which fabricates large wooden roof supports for construction projects, found himself impressed by some redwood-over-copper art pieces by sculptor Melvin Schuler, whose work has been widely shown in California as well as along the Oregon coast.

“I thought I would like to do something like that, with my background in wood,” Dale Mueller. He has applied the “reduction” process to carving large works of art out of single pieces of wood, as well as creating smaller, abstract groupings of copper-clad wood segments, designed for either indoor or outdoor display.

Several of Connie Mueller’s reduction linocuts are on view as part of “Art of the Garden”

At first, his efforts were “more organic, kind of flowing,” Mueller said. “But the last few years, I’ve been creating things that are more angular, kind of ‘nature meets man’s need, or ability, to organize things.’ “

Connie Mueller’s work takes the concept of “reduction” to even greater extremes with her reduction linocut prints, a process that involves carving away one layer at a time from a piece of linoleum, printing each layer with a different color — usually moving from lightest to darkest — before going onto the next.

Some of Mueller’s pieces require 15 prints, some as many as 25, her husband said. The final number of prints in an “edition” must be decided ahead of time, because once each layer is printed, it cannot be repeated again.

Many artists create their linocut prints by creating a separate linoleum block for each color they plan to use, which gives the opportunity to redo a given color block if it doesn’t come out exactly the way it was envisioned.

The reduction process is a bit counterintuitive, and more risky, because carving mistakes are not easy to rectify. With reduction linocut, additional carving is made on the same block for each succeeding color in the print, which is why the number of copies printed of the very first block dictates the overall number of final prints that ultimately can be made.

White Lotus Gallery owner HP Lin holds a book by artist Connie Mueller that ilustrates the steps in the reduction linocut process

The artist begins by creating the entire design, transferring it to the linoleum, then carving away and inking each successive color, generally from light to dark.

The first layer usually involves carving away whatever the artist wishes to retain of the background color of the paper. The next layer of carving removes the parts of the linoleum that will become the second color, followed by as many repetitions as there will be additional colors, with thorough cleaning of the linoleum block between each one.

An example of Mueller’s process may be seen online at https://conniemueller.weebly.com/printing-process.html

Cultivating Nature: The Art of the Garden

When: Through June 23

Where: White Lotus Gallery, 767 Willamette St., Eugene

Gallery hours: 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday

Information: 541-345-3276 or wlotus.com

Artwork by both Connie and Dale Mueller are part of the the window of the “Art and the Garden” show at the White Lotus Gallery