31 August 2006

Mission Accomplished

Blowing Block Carved

Yesterday I finished carving all those skinny loopy lines. I wouldn't want to do carving like this for every print, but I'm glad to know that it's possible to carve lines that look loose and "drawn." I hope they print that way!

I have a short break in my illustration workload until next week, so I'm going to try to finish carving the other blocks (4 more) today and see if I can get this print completed over the weekend.

25 August 2006

Afraid To Blow It

Blow It #1

I want this next print, the "Air" print, to look, well, airy. I scribbled some wind and I like the scribbles so much that I want to try to carve them just like I drew them. (I said try!)

Everything I've read says to do the close and careful cuts first and then the clearing, but too many times I've wrecked my carefully carved lines with overzealous clearing, so i did some clearing first:

Blow It #2

Now I'll get out my magic magnifying glasses and work on these lines. See you later, I'll be a while!

Blow It #3

22 August 2006

TaiChi Position 2 Final

TaiChiPosition2Final

Of the whole batch, this print looks the most like what I expected to see. On most of the other prints the incised lines are paler, although still discernable, especially in the lighter areas at the bottom. I'm happy with these results, though, and happy too that I learned so much in the process. There's one more print in this series, which you can probably now see has become an earth/fire/water/air series:

3OutOf4

20 August 2006

Wuon Gean Ho

Wuon Gean Puppy copyright Wuon Gean
Wuon Gean Kokeshi

An article in the latest issue of Printmaking Today alerted me to the work of London-based printmaker Wuon Gean. The few pieces reproduced in black and white in the magazine were intriguing enough to send me to my computer to look up her website, but nothing could have prepared me for the sheer delight I felt when I saw the gorgeous moku hanga prints she creates. Prior to studying Japanese woodblock printmaking in Kyoto for several years under Professor Akira Kurosaki Wuon Gean also studied veterinary medicine, and the combination of these areas of expertise yields some beautiful prints that examine the interaction between humans and animals.

Wuon Gean has a new show opening tomorrow in London for those of you who live nearby:

Waterloo Gallery, 14 Bayliss Road, London SE1
21st-26th August 2006 12-6pm daily.
Private views Tuesday 22nd 6.30-8.30pm and Saturday 26th August 3-5pm.

Entry is free, all are welcome.
I wish I could make it!

18 August 2006

OK, Not Intaglio

NotIntaglio1

So I took my leather punch (looks kind of like an ice pick) and scratched a bunch of lines onto the block that already had the circles carved into it. Nothing planned out, just went straight at the wood with the point of the tool, trying to make marks like a stray electron would make. It was difficult because the grain of the wood wanted to pull the tool in one direction only. I made the marks lightly at first so the grain wouldn't fight me so hard and then went back over them more deeply once I had scored the wood.

Then I put down some blue pigment like I did the first time, using the maru bake to drive the ink down into the scratched lines. I lightly wiped some of the ink off the block and here's what printed:

NotIntaglio2

You can see that the incised lines didn't fill with ink and print darker the way I thought they would. Instead, they printed as thin white lines with darker ink around them. Here's a closeup:

NotIntaglio3

I put down a layer of yellow then, to see if the lines would stay white or change:

NotIntaglio4

The lines pretty much stayed white, but got even darker around the edges. I wouldn't call this intaglio, but these lines are taking the ink differently and that's what I wanted. I have a few more passes to make, so it will be interesting to see what happens. I know that the wetter the wood gets with subsequent printings, the more the lines will close up. But even if these lines stay white, I feel like I've discovered a different type of mark to add to my repertoire.

17 August 2006

Moku Hanga Intaglio Test

Thanks for all the support, everyone! Here's a quick little test just to get a feel for this intaglio idea. Here's a block with a little two-inch "tree" incised into it:
IntaglioTest1

And here's a print taken from the block with full-strength pigment and no wiping - just a scrubbing with the maru bake brush:
IntaglioNoWipe

That was way too dark, so I tried one with lots of water, still no wiping:
IntaglioWater

Kind of neat, but awfully subtle. Here's full-strength pigment and just a little wiping. The lines are printing kind of white here:
IntaglioSemiWipe

Here I've wiped more thoroughly:
IntaglioWipe

And here's the ghost (second time printing with no pigment added) from the previous print:
IntaglioGhost

These are down and dirty experiments, but there are definitely some possibilities here, any of which would probably be difficult to get control over. And as Tom mentioned in a previous comment, it's also likely that different inks would behave in different ways. Hmmm. Now to decide if I want to try this on my "Playing With Fire" print.

16 August 2006

Intaglio With Wood

IncisedLines

I've decided to let go of my "particle river" idea (see below) and go back to the simplicity of my original sketch. I do want to add a little more depth and texture, though, so I'm going to try something new. The photo above is a closeup of an experiment I did on this last batch of prints. I scratched in a few lines with a leather punch to see if it would print intaglio. Intaglio is the opposite of relief printmaking. Instead of raised uncarved areas being the printing surface, what prints in intaglio are incised areas. In the intaglio process the damp paper is pushed into the incised grooves, which hold more ink. Usually, intaglio is done on metal plates in processes like etching and aquatint. But my experiment reveals that a subtle sort of intaglio can be done on wood, so I'm going to try it on this print.

13 August 2006

Trial and Error


(Click image for larger view)

I know that I should never print when I'm tired, but I did it anyway. I drove to New Hampshire and back this weekend for a family reunion and I'm exhausted, but I wanted to finish printing this piece tonight because I have a lot of work in front of me in the coming week and I won't be able to work on woodblock again for many days. My mistake.

In the spirit of showing all of it, good and bad, here's what I ended up doing tonight: testing different combinations of color for the little "river of particles." Right now I don't like any of them, and as you can see in the upper right print, I even tried a whole different block. I don't like the way the rivers cover up the white circles -- I had wanted them to overprint and still show the white.

So now I need to put it all away, let it rest, and start fresh at the end of the week (or even next week) after I finish my illustration projects.

10 August 2006

Today Is Orange

Today I started printing my "Playing With Fire" tai chi guy. First I did a little bit of blue underneath:

Position2Pass1

Then I put down a yellow:

Position2Pass2

Then a separate yellow block for the guy's suit. This will have blue on top of it later:

Position2Pass3

Then I started to build up layers of orange, trying to get a long bokashi. It was difficult to keep the gradation smooth:

Position2Pass4
Position2Pass5

I think I'm going to need to print one more layer over all of it so the white really pops, but now is a good time to take a breather and stare at it for a while.

06 August 2006

Sleeping With Saito

Saito Print
"Winter in Aizu" by Kiyoshi Saito

The Saito print above was on the wall of the bedroom I slept in this weekend at my friend Julie's mother's Manhatten apartment. Julie's stepfather spent quite a few years in Japan after the war and he brought back many books and woodblock prints. Most of the prints were ukioe and shin hanga prints, which I'm not very well educated in. There were 10 snow scenes lining the dining room walls, 6 or 7 prints in the living room, and several sosaku prints in the bedrooms. Whenever we weren't at museums or restaurants I was staring at these prints.

Snow Scene

As if that weren't exciting enough, Julie's mother got out a huge stack of books for me on Saturday afternoon.

Japan Books

Among the books were two woodblock demo books, one from the famous Watanabe shin hanga publisher:

Watanabe Demo Book Front
Watanabe Demo Book End

Another book showed the stages of a larger more complex print (Click to see large view):

Woodblock Demo Book2

Looking through the books felt like a treasure hunt. Many thanks to Julie and Arlyne for hosting us!

03 August 2006

Off To New York

Leona Pierce Print
"Marbles" by Leona Pierce (at NY Public Library)

Tomorrow morning I'll be leaving for a whirlwind tour of New York City with a friend who grew up there and we're planning to look at lots of prints. We'll be starting at MOMA where there's an exhibit of prints by both established and emerging artists called "Since 2000: Printmaking Now" showcasing works created since 2000 and acquired by the Department of Prints and Illustrated Books.

Then on to the NY Public Library to see "Prints Without Pressure," an exhibit of American relief prints from the 1940s through the 1960s.

And I'm also hoping to stop in at the AIGA to see
"The Graphic Imperative," a show of forty years of international sociopolitical posters.

And of course there will be shopping and eating. We're bringing our yellow labrador retreiver, Ty, whose only city experience up until now has been a few trips to Boston. I can't wait to see Ty exploring Central Park!

02 August 2006

Playing With Fire

Position 2 Sketch

Here's the rough sketch I'm working with for this print. Although the title will simply be "Postion 2," I've been mentally calling it "playing with fire." The circular forms are the types of shapes that are seen in pictures from bubble-chamber experiments, when atoms are split and subnuclear particles collide.

Here's another carved block. I think that this print will require 5 blocks. The figure will of course have a pattern on his outfit like his colleagues.

Position2 Carving 2

01 August 2006

Lots of Little Digs

Position2Carving

This is a block for the next print in the Attitudes series. I never tried this particular way of carving before, just making a bunch of marks with my smallest gouge. I plan to print this block over another one, hopefully to get some interesting color overlaps with the little cutouts.

Actually, looking at the block now in this scan, I think I want to go back in and chop it up some more. As you can imagine, it's quite a satisfying feeling to make all these little digs.