My work for pay is definitely getting in the way of my woodblock hobby! One of the most difficult things for me in my pursuit of printmaking is that my illustration work makes it so hard for me to plan my prints. Because I mostly work for magazines, when I get an illustration job I pretty much have to drop everything in order to accommodate the tight schedules involved. This week I dropped everything for a couple of clients, but today while I was waiting for some sketches to be approved I sneaked in some time to do the next impression.
I'm working on the "sky" area and I want the color to fade off into nothing at the top. In moku hanga this fade is called a bokashi and here you'll see my inelegant method of making a bokashi.
First I apply a liberal amount of water and paste to the entire printing surface of the block.
Then I apply some pigment at the bottom of the bokashi. This is a pretty wide area that I'm trying to cover and there are moku hanga artists who would advise against doing a wide fade like this in one pass (better to build it up in several passes), but I've found that I don't like to do multiple overprints unless it's absolutely necessary. The fewer opportunities I have to misregister my prints the better!
Now I begin to blend the pigment into the water/paste mix by dragging the brush horizontally. Notice that my brush has an eye hook at one end that I use to hang it. This hook becomes a marker when I'm making a bokashi. I can always remember that the pigment end of the brush is the end with the hook. Right after I took this picture I realized that I needed to use a longer brush, so I switched.
Above is how it looked printed. And below shows how I stack the prints as they come off the block. Amazingly, even though the paper is damp and the prints are fresh off the block, the ink doesn't transfer from one print to the next so you can stack them on top of one another. I alternate them to help keep the moisture content even through the stack.
Hopefully I'll get to the last block soon.