When the moku hanga workshop was canceled at Zea Mays Printmaking and director Liz Chalfin asked me if I'd like to work privately with a couple of the students who had signed up, I jumped at the chance. My experience has been that the people who attend Zea Mays workshops are usually practicing artists, many of whom have already had some printmaking experience, and are really fun to work with. Wendy and Martha were two such people.
The three days followed the three basic stages of making a print, with the first day being devoted to design and color separation, the second day all about carving, and day three dedicated to printing. As anyone who has made a moku hanga style print knows, that's a whole lot to cram into three days, so it was a full-on experience with barely enough time to grab some lunch.
Working with Wendy and Martha confirmed for me that there are a lot of ways to make a print. Each approached moku hanga in their own way and allowed the process to guide them as they became accustomed to all the variables involved -- the amount of paste, water and pigment, the personality of each wooden plate, the effects of baren pressure, the interactions of colors as they build.
Artist and sheep farmer Wendy Ketchum of New Hampshire worked with a very graphic image she had developed of nasturtium flowers and leaves. Her plans for color seemed to work right off the bat, so once she had pulled a few proofs, her task was to refine her four blocks rather than focus a lot on color balance. She left with a small edition of proofs that she plans to continue to refine back home in her studio.
Painter/printmaker Martha Ebner of Rust Avenue Studios in Northampton worked with a landscape design of a heron and a bridge. It was a challenging design for a single day of carving -- she used 5 blocks for 7 basic color areas. She was disappointed with the colors she chose for her first set of proofs, which drove her to drop her plans and begin experimenting.
She began working with more painterly approaches, adding some bokashi (gradations), and ended up with a varied group of proof prints that she will take back to her studio and continue to work with.
Ty the yellow lab loved having a workshop here in our home. It's a good thing Wendy and Martha both like dogs, because Ty insisted on being right where the action was!
Many thanks to Wendy and Martha for a fun and jam-packed three days.