Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Blu Vase Variations

I went to a Morandi exhibit years ago in Italy and was quite enthralled by the beauty and simplicity of his paintings. I went home and found a suitable vase from my Mother-in-law's cupboard and did this watercolor sketch. The composition is quite staid and rather uninteresting.....another Morandi I am not...but there was a liveliness to the watercolor handling that was reasonably successful and gave this little piece some life.

Like so many other things it sat on my desk and when we moved to Santa Cruz, I thought it would make a good printmaking exercise in woodcut and Moku Hanga. I hoped it would let me work on waterbased printing, especially Bokashi, the graded color for which good Japanese prints are so rightly associated. The blocks were carved in early July but my first attempt at printing was a disappointment and I put it aside. Last week, I carved another block (the one with the diamond print on the tablecloth) and had another go at printing.

This work is small; the image size is roughly 3.5" X 5" and was printed from 6 basswood plywood blocks but was printed and overprinted so has probably closer to 9-10 impressions in several different color tonalities. Hansa Yellow first as a overall plate color, then a pale Prussian blue for the vase, printed four times with different blocks to get the shading and then a Quinacradine Rose/Dalamar Yellow for the backround. A few were printed over a cobalt violet backround printed first.
I'm still not too happy with the outcome although the prints are better this time around. The combination of a stiff composition and too crude printing lost the delicacy that was in the sketch. I think the vase is still a bit too pale and I think I was printing a bit too wet as there is some tortoise-shell mottling in the blue that I didn't intend. And the colors aren't quite right. So I'll go back to the printing bench again and try to give a bit more volume and presence to the vase with some different blues and print a bit drier.


  1. i think this is gorgeous in all its variations

  2. Great designs and work.

    Regarding your printing concerns you commented about at Barenforum, I wonder if your block is sanded smoothly enough and that you are indeed printing on the sized side of the paper and that your paper is moistened enough, evenly outside and inside.

    Bette Wappner

  3. I always have trouble knowing which side of the paper is sized. Sometimes it's obvious that one is smoother or shinier but often not and as the paper behaves "unsized" that may be the problem.