"Making art provides uncomfortably accurate feedback about the gap that inevitably exists between what you intended to do and what you did." Art & Fear, pg. 4
I knew I had good reason to be afraid of this Vast Unpeopled Lands print, and I was pretty sure that the main reason to fear was the fact that it's so big. I'm using a half-sheet of Nishinouchi, so the paper is 21 x 29 in / 53 x 74 cm and the block shown above is 20 x 30 in / 50 x 76 cm. I've discovered that the bigger the print the more difficult registration becomes. I knew that the tightest registration on this print would be the constellations, because they're composed of fairly thin carved lines that create white areas in the ink of the printed sky. Any off-registration on the multiple passes necessary to get a gradation in the sky printing would fill in the white lines.
On Monday I went into the studio and did a first pass. Not bad. Then yesterday I printed the sky again to darken it and that's when the trouble started. I do love the Japanese kento system. Because it's so reliable, I did manage to get quite a few acceptable prints in my little run of 10 sheets of paper, but I also got some real bad ones. Have a look:
If you look at the photo of the block at the beginning of this post, you can see that I put the corner kento at the bottom right. If I had thought it through and put the kento at the top where the sky is (and printed "upside down") the registration would have been much easier, because the closer to the kento the better the registration. It would have been even better if I had used a kento notch instead of the corner as I did on my Three Prophets prints.
Obviously the top print in the photo above is not salvageable, but many of them are just a little "fuzzy" in the corner farthest from the kento, like the one in the middle in the photo above.
Another thing I've learned over time is not to act out of panic. I walked out of the studio yesterday after I had fuzzied up the prints and I didn't go back in again until this afternoon. I needed to just let it percolate until I knew what to do next. And then I knew -- I could hand paint with some white ink the color of the paper. So I tried hand painting on one print. Here's how it came out:
I like it a lot, so this is what I'm going to do on all of them. Since I'm going to be adding quite a bit of moisture to these prints as I continue adding layers and I'm not sure how the painted-on ink will react to water, I'll wait until the end to do the rest. But at least I can relax, knowing that I have a fix for this. Phew! Art is scary.