21 July 2014

Power of Tea White Line Print

Here's the final version of the print I showed you in progress in the past two posts. Wow, was this fast to do! Two days, but I could have easily done it in one long day. It's pretty, I think, and as my friend Andrew said in a comment earlier it's elegant. (Although there are pin holes on the right side from my registration method.)

I tried another version using some Masa paper I had around. I found the Masa much less receptive to the pigments than the Echizen Kozo. The surface of Masa is 'harder' and the paper a bit thinner. It slipped around a little and I felt that it didn't absorb the paints as well. I think this method likes a thicker softer paper.

So here are the pros and cons for me about white line printing.

- It's a fast process. It's ideal for one-off images and would be great for client work.
- Nice emphasis on linework, and much easier to do this kind of linework than black (relief) lines.
- Even more low tech than moku hanga since you can print with a spoon or doorknob or other common object.
- You print with dry paper, so it's way less fussy than moku hanga, where you have to always be aware of moisture levels.
- Room to experiment more since the prints aren't editioned.
- One piece of wood instead of many (= cheaper)

- You have to work quickly and/or in small areas or else the paint dries before you can transfer it to the paper.
- No editioning, an issue if you like multiples.
- The lines are white. I know, duh. But white lines have a certain look — light, airy and sort of happy — that I find disconcerting.

It's funny to consider "light, airy and sort of happy" a drawback. "What's wrong with happy?" Lynn asked me when I said that. (Let it be noted that when the Sunday NY Times arrives, Lynn goes directly to the Style Section to look at wedding announcements, while I grab the front page for world news and the Obituaries.) But it's a good question she asks, what's wrong with happy, and this concern about happy certainly says more about me than about white line printmaking. I guess, given that my topics are so often socio-political in nature, I like some gravitas in the look of my prints.

I went looking for some white line prints that aren't quite so happy looking and then I remembered Edvard Munch. Munch didn't make white line prints, but he developed a ‘jig-saw’ cut woodcut in which he cut out shapes from a wood block, inked each part separately and then put them back together for printing. As in the Provincetown white line method, Munch's jigsaw method eliminated the need for a complex registration system while permitting the use of multiple colors, and as in the white line method it left a white line around the cut pieces as in the print below. Nobody can say Munch's prints look light and happy.

It's quite possible that my issues with the white lines are really just issues about trying a new thing and not being confident yet. Flexibility is not my strongest character trait, so what I know is that I need some time to keep experimenting with the white line method before I make any pronouncements about whether or not I like it.

Next on the agenda: a landscape in white line.


Unknown said...

Still love the Power of Tea print that you gave me and I like the new white line one, too. 美しいただと思います。

Annie B said...

Thanks Neshamah. I'm so happy you still love that image. I know that you know very well the Power of tea.

Jennifer Martindale said...

did you use basic water colour and nori or use water based inks? I love the results of this image, mine all come out looking slightly faded!

Annie B said...

Hi Jennifer. I used watercolor paints from tubes, no nori. I used quite a bit of pressure when rubbing, and used a bone folder rather than a baren.

betsy best-spadaro said...

Hi Annie, I like your white line print! Is there any reason why you can't use a kento, wet paper and nori?

Annie B said...

Thanks Betsy! You mean so that you can edition? There's no reason you couldn't use a kento and wet paper, but I'm not sure it would be easier or helpful. Since the entire image is on one block, you have to paint carefully inside the lines -- none of those wide sweeping applications of color like in moku hanga -- so it doesn't make sense to mix in the nori on the block the way you do with moku hanga. But maybe if the paper was wet you could paint more areas before you had to pick up the color. Maybe the wet paper would reconstitute any paint that had dried.
Let me know your results if you try it!

Martha Knox said...

"- The lines are white. I know, duh. But white lines have a certain look — light, airy and sort of happy — that I find disconcerting."

So true.

Love this post, and love the print even more. Reminding me that I MUST do some white line woodcuts this year. I guess I'll have to think of something happy to work on.

Annie B said...

I'll be watching your blog for some Martha Knox white line prints!

Barbara Mason said...

this is a stunning print, the background really ties it together, great design. I tried this and found it made me crazy...it took so long to print one tiny ares...but I used a baren...maybe I should try the bone folder and give it another go...the painterly look you got was great, the shading really nice.
Good job!

Annie B said...

Thanks, Barbara! Let me know if you try it again.

Anita Thomhave Simonsen said...

I agree...so elegant and beautiful...love the colours here...