The Traditional Keyblock Method (not good for a 2-day workshop)
The traditional method used by the ukiyo-e artists was to make a drawing for a keyblock, which would be carved, printed in black, and then used to develop color blocks. This method is sort of like coloring in a coloring book.
|I started with a black & white sketch which I pasted onto a block and carved. This is the finished carving.|
|Next I printed several copies of the carved keyblock with black ink and pasted these copies onto fresh blocks.|
|Here is the image with all the colors printed, just waiting for the addition of the black keyblock.|
|The final print with the keyblock added.|
Color Fields Only Method (good for the workshop)
By eliminating the keyblock and thinking of your image as fields of color that might or might not overlap, you can make a strong picture using just two or three colors. Because the waterborne pigments are transparent, you can make green by overprinting/overlapping yellow with blue, make violet by overprinting red with blue, etc. Here are two examples.
Example 1: Kamakura Buddha
|You can work from a photo, as I did for this simple print of the face of the Kamakura Buddha.|
|I used a piece of tracing paper to mark out three values. I wanted the areas marked by an X to be white (the color of the paper) in a field of pale green, the red areas a middle value green, and the darkened areas a deep blue-green.|
|Here is a breakdown of the three different blocks printed separately (column on the left) and as a composite (on the right). You can see how much information can be carried with three simple blocks.|
Example 2: Abe Lincoln
This is an image with more complex carving, but created using just two blocks. This image also shows how overlapping colors can be used. I made this image for a portfolio exchange which required us to use red and a very turquoise blue. I didn't like the blue, so I decided to overprint the two to make the blue more black. Again I worked from a photo, this time a photo of the Lincoln Memorial statue’s face. You can use this method if you think you would feel comfortable doing some loose carving from a photo or drawing or even a painting you've previously done.
|Even after delaminating the paper it can still be hard to see the image clearly. A thin application of mineral oil makes the image perfectly visible.|
|On one block I carved away everything that would remain white (the paper color). You can see my chisel marks, which I tried to make a bit more loose and expressive than the Buddha in the example above.|
|Here's the block above printed in red.|
|On the second block, I carved away everything except the areas which I wanted to be dark. This block I would print blue.|
|Here's the composite, blue overprinting red.|
So these are the two basic methods of image transfer we'll be using -- 1. pasting down a printout / photocopy or 2. Using carbon paper to transfer a design/drawing. If you're a person who likes to work spontaneously, you can come without a sketch and just bring a sharpie to draw right on the block. Or you can "draw" with a chisel, making marks in the moment.
To get a better idea of what is possible to accomplish in a two-day workshop, click here and here to see some student work from other workshops. And please refer to your participant letter for details on how to size your sketch before you arrive.
I'm looking forward to seeing you!