27 September 2005

Do More Prep?

I printed the sky a third time, this time not so much to make the ink denser, but to adjust the color to be more violet. With all that purple down on the wall, the sky looked too blue. Now I just have the black plate to do...

My friend Tom has suggested that I might do what I know many moku hanga artists do, which is to make very careful test prints to work out all the problems beforehand. While I see the value of this, especially now that I've printed the sky 3 times, I feel some resistance to the idea. In terms of process, I find that I enjoy doing my troubleshooting on the fly. The thrill-seeker part of me likes not knowing exactly how things will turn out.

Heaven knows woodblock printing isn't exactly a sponteaneous process. A lot of planning is necessary, and there are so many stages and steps, so many different factors to consider. What I've been doing is making the first 5 or so pieces of paper in my edition my test pages. For each new block I refine the colors, experiment, and doing any touch-up carving as I work with those first five prints. Then when I'm satisfied, I do the rest of the run while that block is all set up and printing well. I acknowledge that it's a risky way to do it, though, because I don't see the final result until I've printed everything. It could end up being a disaster.

I'd love to hear from any of you woodblock artists who are reading this; would love to know how much pre-printing you do and how you prepare for editioning.

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