Thursday, February 20, 2014

First (ever) Japanese Woodcut!

Last week I had a one to one workshop with printmaker Laura Boswell. It was one of the very best workshops I have ever been to and was to say the least illuminating.

Everything about this type of printmaking is different from anything I have done before. I had no idea of its complexities, the need for methodical work and the translucent beauty it is possible for even me on my first attempt to achieve. It is far too complex a process to go over in this post but it is mostly like a mix of watercolour and print, deceptively simple in some ways but with all the emphasis on the inking and sensitivity of your own touch. I cannot take much credit for this as it was made step by step under Laura’s careful guidance and I have to say a fair bit of cutting help from her too.

I had chosen a image of an adder. It’s one of my Beautiful Beasts to come.  I thought the pattern might be quite useful but not knowing anything about this kind of printmaking I went with a very simple scribble.

_bg-adder-thumb bg-add-thumb-2

This had to be simplified again to make something achievable in just a few hours.


It’s not a quick process but, in short, you draw the image, transfer the image onto the blocks, cut, ink and print. I marked out the three plates and did some cutting to understand the process then Laura took over the donkey work while I tried the inking and printing.  One plate for the background, one for the snake body and one for the pattern.


Even with these few plates there are a million possible variations of colours, shading, mottling, blending and over printing, inking and printing again and again with slight variations to achieve what you hope to get.


These are background trials, shading, mottling and then with a simple unshaded snake and pattern.

_bg-3--col-bkgroud _bg-mottled-background-shad   

These two have a slightly shaded snake with different backgrounds.

Having done this I do understand a little more about this beautiful form of printmaking. I cannot recommend Laura’s workshop highly enough and after a bit of practise and armed with a million more questions I will definitely return.

1 comment:

  1. I really like your results - and impressive in only one session. What are the blocks made from? Wood, presumably. But coated with something that is easy to pare off? And if wood, what wood? I shall have to research further.