Another new technique for me. I went to a one day workshop at Ardington School of Craft run by Beth Jenkins on the American technique of white line woodblock printing. It was intended to be a simplified form of Japanese woodblock, requiring just one block for the whole image, using watercolour and gouache as the print medium. It is really also closely related to mosaic and stained glass techniques.
Each area of colour is outlined by a gouged groove, the white lines, and then the area flooded with watercolour and the image transferred to thin paper by hand burnishing. Only a small area can be done at one time, so the paper and block need to be kept in register the whole time. Only one print at a time can be produced, and all will be different in colour. You can have indefinite print runs.
My first block, based on a photo I took off razor bills at St Abbs Head. The block itself is beautiful at the end.
I’m working on a second print in my studio. A roosting kittiwake I sketched at Dunbar. Still working out the best colour scheme.
I haven’t printed for a while, so decided to have a go at creating a print from one of the sketches I did out on the Bass Rock.
I redrew the selected part of the sketch, adding a bit here and there. Then transferred this in reverse to a lime wood block and started carving a basic key block drawing. I’ve had this lime for years and wanted to use it. Lovely to work in, but a tendency for unintended bits to chip out.
I took a couple of proofs onto cartridge paper, and coloured it up to get an idea of the finished work. I decided to cut out the hatched shading. Not sure now that was the best idea.
I cut two more blocks for head and pebble colours and shading. I used lino simply because I didn’t have any more lime. I’ve proofed the three blocks onto Somerset paper. Quite pleased with the outcome, but the are several tweaks to the carving needed before I do a final edition. I think I’ll run off about 10.
I spent a wonderful week in June on the above mentioned course, with about 20 other artists. We were based in Dunbar in East Lothian and spent each day drawing and painting out in the open at St Abbs Head, Dunbar Castle, Seacliffe and best of all out on the Bass Rock. Sitting surrounded by thousands of gannets was a once in a lifetime experience. My drawings were OK but some of the art produced by the others was astonishing, especially when you realise it was all painted out in the open, sometimes in the pouring rain, and on the Bass, pouring bird poo. I’ll try and show some of the other artists’ work in the next entry. We spent one morning visiting John Busby’s studio, which was another high point. I bought one of his small paintings.
I’ve decided to start with a print of a shelduck. They are beautiful, but fairly simple in shape. One duck with a twisted neck, based on my Internet sketches.
First a quick sketch of the duck against reeds. Then a slightly more careful sketch on a piece of scrap paper with a rectangle the size of the lino block on it. This was traced off on tracing paper so it could be reversed and transferred to the lino.
I’m going to make two blocks, the first one shown here which will just be the duck. I’ve carved it’s outline carefully and then will remove all the lino from around it. If I use just one block, I think there may be too many layers of ink, and I was having trouble getting my mind around it all.
This basic outline of the bird was transferred to a second lino block by printing it onto a piece of teaching paper, and then printing this wet image onto the second piece of lino. All held in place with the Boswell device, so it should line up… The black area of this second image needs to be removed completely, and what is left them used to print the background, reeds, water etc. Long way to go yet. I have 8 sheets or Zirkal paper, so there will be 8 prints maximum, if I don’t spoil any.