Sunday, May 31, 2015

Moku Hanga a Roma



 Last weekend's woodblock print class went by in a fast and busy that I only once tried to document the workshop with photos but my camera died and I never did get a chance to recharge. Thanks to Francesca and Giulia instead who took lots of photos and forwarded them to me.

It was a great group. Five energetic, really enthusiastic and dauntless artists happy to spend 3 full days learning something new.

This was designed as a 3-Day class: We talked a little bit about the history of moku hanga, looked at slides and I did a general printing demo followed by an introduction to tools and methods.
We went over the drawings and transferred them to the blocks and the group got carving.
Day one ended with the keyblocks carved.....
I forget sometimes how difficult it is for new carvers to learn how to hold the knives and work without fatiguing. 

Day 2 was devoted to looking at some beautiful antique prints; I demonstrated color printing and multi block registration. Color blocks were carved.

Day 3: we looked at slides of contemporary moku hanga artists;  I did a demo of bokashi gradation printing and and printing tips. And we discussed traditional and non-traditional barens.
PRINTING for the better part of the day.
We finished reviewing each persons works and ended the day, late, with a demonstration of how
 to tie the bamboo skin/leaf on the baren.

As I said before it was a great group.
The artists and graphic designers all had a good grasp of color separations and image manipulation.
The one beginner had a strong art history background (but had never carved either lino or wood) had some challenges with carving but was persistent, careful, and determined and managed to pull off a three-block image with a bokashi background and a cute character that everyone but me recognized as "SPANK"?

Registration was pretty good all around and the only real issues were the loss of some of the keyblock lines..from carving issues with the toh and gouges on the first afternoon....but that gets better with practice and by the second day all were already clearly more in control with the toh and chisels.  Each participant definitely got a sense of how the process works and what to work on for their next prints.

Claudia's "Spank". They say it's a dog?

 I had a great time; it was fun to teach and a great group to be a part of.
Thank you Betterpress lab for the invitation and a big thank you to the participants themselves for their effort and energy.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Takenokawa----that time of year again

This is a new bamboo cane and it's growing almost 1' a day.
Ah Spring, when the lusty thoughts of young men everywhere turn to takenokawa.
The bamboo is growing at the rate of a foot a day and that means about once a day, the thin, tough culm that surrounds the growing segment is dropping off too.
I noticed new bamboo shoots in the garden last week and knew it was time to go hunting.
I have a large paper bag as I won't need anything else.

Thank you spring; you have replenished my supply of baren-leaf covers (barengawa) for the year.
(This stand of bamboo has canes that range from 1" to almost 3.5" in diameter....the largest will easily open to 14-15cm when dampened and stretched and a great many of the smaller ones will stretch to 12-14cm...enough to cover my home-made barens).  It rained yesterday so I'll let these sit outside today as there is a drying wind and I'll put them away later before it gets damp in the evening.  I'll check again in a few days as there will be as many again littering the ground.
I recommend you go visit your botanical garden soon with a shopping bag.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Burden--Sins of omission

For "Print Day in May" (not sure what it is other than an excuse to skip other priorities to go work in the studio) I did just that.
I put aside all the pressing outdoor and indoor things and spent all morning working in the print shop.

I had nothing really planned but I have a bunch of little doodles and sketches that I looked through to find an idea that I wanted to explore.  I sketched with pencil a few curving lines onto a 4" x 6" Shina block and then went over them with a sharpie so they'd remain after I printed and washed off the block between colors.  This is not how I usually work: I usually start from a finished drawing that I transfer to the block and faithfully carve.  But I had just a few hours so just started in.

First pass was a gray Beta-Ban. A simple gray wash over the entire block. I used a lot of paste so the brush marks show.

Then I carved the block and printed a red band at the bottom with a bokashi to keep from printing a hard edge. (See top photo for the block state after this printing).   I carved away the red stripe at the bottom and printed the remaining shapes with a leftover brown I'd mixed from Pthalo Blue, Magenta and Hansa Yellow. This was printed twice with more baren pressure towards the bottom creating a gradation in the graininess with smoother color where the pressure was stronger.

Then a Black bokashi was printed to the top circle shape with some care to make sure that there was some bleed onto the brown curving shape just below.
Then a Blue bokashi was printed over the bottom "Leg" shape.

This is my third little print in a series based on rather random lines or scribbles that originate as abstract or nonrepresentational images but that then suggest a subject as my mind either subconsciously or deliberately push them towards a direction that becomes a subject.
(My "pinwheel" and "fulcrum" prints are the other two).

I've been thinking about recent World events and feeling ever more aware of the human and moral implications of inaction.  There is a concept that shows up several times in Bible (and elsewhere) about the sin of omission. That is, the wrong we commit individually by not acting to correct or prevent a wrong when it was in our power to do so.  Perhaps it's due, in part, to a paralysis that comes from the daily barrage in the news of unthinkable carnage and evil that is still far away.  But there are plenty of injustices big and small nearer to home  My little print is about the discomfort and personal guilt I feel for remaining inactive and about the illusion that we remain unaffected even if we do nothing.

Burden, moku hanga woodblock print.
Ed. 5;  5 1/2" X 7  1/2 "