Tag Archives: woodcut

Japanese woodcut

I’ve just completed an excellent two day workshop at Ardington School Of Crafts run by Laura Boswell. An introduction to Japanese woodblock printing. An art form I love but I have never tackled before.

I started with an image of pine trees falling into the sea on the end of Furzey Island in Poole Harbour. I photographed it last week and even did a sketch of it in charcoal whilst sitting cross legged on the roof of my boat.

Laura took us through the stages of breaking the design down into blocks which would build up the image. These are carved on both sides of the wood block and coloured using horse hair brushes, watercolour paint and rice paste.

The blocks are printed onto damp paper, using a baren to burnish the back. I produced several multicoloured images and a final, fairly rushed one just in blue, which is very traditional.

It’s a fascinating technique. These results aren’t that great, but they are a starting point. Hokusai, here I come…

Advertisements

Confident women prints, and an Etsy store at last.

I have been working on a series of prints called Confident Women. So often images of women have either demurely downcast eyes, or a raised heavenward gaze. I want my girls to just be looking at the world as it is. The two below are the best so far, a blue lino cut and a red wood cut.

I have also finally got around to setting up an Etsy shop to try and shift some of these prints that are piling up. It is called JEGSart and you can find it here

https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/JEGSart

You can even buy these two prints there…

Narwhal print process

This was an interesting print in many ways. I only started printing a year ago, so each one is a whole new experience for me. This is a woodblock print, cut into blanks of lime wood I bought in Cumbria. The initial inspiration came from a beautiful photograph of a narwhal in the Geographical Magazine. This lead to a bit of research and a lot of sketching.

Using these sketches, I came up with a basic composition of two whales. Initially I had another tail and a tusk in it, but that looked too cluttered.

Before cutting a block, I spent a week sailing in the Canaries, where we had a wonderful sighting of pilot whales, which gave me thoughts on light on the animals.

I wanted to emphasise the underwater look, and that reminded me of a painting I produced a couple of years ago, based on Natasha Brookes’ short film of swimming in frozen lakes in Snowdonia.

Putting all of these together gave me the basis for the print. The background printed from one block first, using a grade colour to try to give a feeling of deep water below a sunlit surface. The image shows the first layer printed above the inked block.

Each whale was then printed from a separate block, so I could vary the density of colour, to heighten the overlap.

One feature of the Snowdonian swimming painting I liked was the hint of schools of fish. Rather than cutting another block, I cut a paper stencil and rolled ink through it onto a blank lime wood block and then pulled a print from that. This smudged the fish a bit, which was probably a good thing.

Putting all of this together gave me the final print, which I have stamped in an edition of eight.

Leafy print

The first layer of my planned leafy art nouveau woodcut is fully cut and prints quite well, although I am not sure of final colours at all.

I am planning an over lying layer of a leafy girl to compliment, but she is just in the planning stage. I want her to have a thick, plaited pig tail which will echo the least shapes. I was really struggling with this until I noticed a girl working in the cafe had a perfect pig tail, so I tried copying it, and have just about worked out how they work.

New print design

My linocut of Bessie Ellen setting sail was a dismal failure. Poor colours and the fine detail became way too blobby. So it will all be recycled, using the backs for test prints. I’ve started something new, using plywood for the first layer. Swirling art nouveau leaves as a background. The foreground might be a pretty girl, but I haven’t started on her yet. I’ve bought some oil based inks to try, to see if they give me a clearer image.

More experiments with woodcuts

This is not expected to be a high quality print. I don’t know how to use the tools, nor how to achieve any desired effect. The only way to learn is to try. So I turned to one of my favourite paintings, Manet’s Olympia, and tried to copy her as a woodcut. Great fun to cut, but very hard to envisage the final result. Trying to copy a painting is probably not a good start. You can’t produce varied hues or subtle tones. The cut block initially gives a very false idea of the print. The block had white, cut wood, red uncut wood and black drawing. The print is stark black and white, with no intermediate tone. I think for the next one I need to start with a monochrome drawing. But you learn as you go on.

The best print was on thin Japanese paper. The Somerset paper was again a disappointment. So many printers swear by it. I must be doing something wrong.

Woodcut after Manet

This is an unfamiliar medium for me, so I am practicing with a familiar image. We went to Intaglio Printworks in Southwark on Wednesday. Paradise for a print maker. Amongst many bits and pieces, I bought three sheets of Japanese plywood for woodcuts. This cuts beautifully with my Pfeil lino tools, but it is so different. Grain to cope with, plus splinters. I painted the wood with red ink to start, to highlight the cuts. Then started work on a copy of my copy of Manet’s portrait of Berthe Morisot, one of the world’s greatest paintings in my belief. Had to photograph it and reverse it first.

DSC_0521.JPG

Looks good as a red carving. Then I inked it with water based ink and printed it first on textured Somerset print paper. Really bad, I just threw them away. Then on some Japanese paper, which was much better but still too thin for my liking.

Then I tried the oil based ink which I also bought. It is so different from the water based. Much thicker and stickier. After a lot of working I printed another proof on Japanese paper, which was better, and finally onto a spare sheet of Zirkal paper which was missed from an earlier run and that was at last something worth while. I think the block still needs some work, especially around her mouth, but that is for later. Cleaning up the ink is not a lot of fun.

DSC_0524.JPG