This is a sketch for a print I've been mentally working on for about 6 weeks. It's the next in my 36 Ways To Use Your Lifeline series, and I call it "Loosen the Knots."
I continue to be amazed at how long the process of composing a woodblock print takes from start to finish, especially when compared to doing a digital illustration. I've literally been working on this design for weeks, but all I have to show for it is this sketch. The rest of the work is only in my head.
A couple of weeks ago I started reading Hiroshi Yoshida's book, Japanese Woodblock Printing, which is posted in its entirety on the Baren Forum, and I was delighted to hear Yoshida describe the slowness of the process just as I've experienced it. Here is an excerpt.
The outstanding feature of print-making is analysis. The ability to analyze is the most essential part of the print-artist's work. In order to do this well, he must first have a complete picture in his mind, analyze it, and produce the necessary blocks for the colours, etc. Nothing like it is to be found in the painter's work. ...
When the drawing is ready, the artist must not be hasty in pasting this sen-gaki on the block and proceeding to cut lines. One should hang it on the wall for a number of days and contemplate it, thinking about the later processes which must eventually follow. If one is too hasty, and it is found necessary to alter or add something afterward, it will be extremely difficult to make the change. It is very essential that one should give all the thought possible just here, before pasting the sen-gaki on the block for cutting. I usually keep it hung up for many days and think about the colour blocks and the different modes of printing to be employed.