Saturday, January 5, 2008
Woodblock Printing: Sunbird, Artist's Proof #1
(Please click image to enlarge and view)
o wild Icarus
how you melted into time
as one born too soon
yet I have arrived too late
to follow my desire
published in the collaborative tanka sequence, "Between Breaths" 05/01)
Ouch, the camera flash was a bit bright!
Yesterday, I pulled the first artist's proof from the third block, "Sunbird," using water-based black Speedball ink. I handcolored the background with oil pastels, and melted the colors with a bit of citrus oil. I had thought about using water colors, but had read in Keiko Hiratsuka Moore's book, Moku Hanga, about kurepasu hanga (cray-pas woodblock prints), a woodblock printmaking technique using cray-pas (mixed crayon and pastel coloring sticks) instead of ink, swabbing the back of the baren-rubbed paper with benzine to melt the colors into the paper. The method was invented by her father, famous sosaku hanga artist, Un'ichi Hiratsuka in the 1930's, the technique being very popular among Japan's schoolchildren, according to the author. I decided to try oil pastels for the background, and may try the kurepasu hanga technique on a different block in the near future.
While I love the luminosity of the colors in the background, I'm not entirely happy with the result of my first experiment on "Sunbird." I think I need another type of solvent for the oil pastels to reduce or eliminate excess oiliness on the paper. Maybe I'll get some benzine or try mineral spirits. I also want to try using some different colored inks in various areas of the image. I won't cut separate blocks for various colors, but will ink the various areas in the desired colors. I don't think I want the sunbird to be black. So, I'll exeriment with both foreground areas and background. I also want to experiment with embossing powders (heated) as pigment. I'm looking forward to this experimentation. (Update: I bought a heat gun, some colorless embossing ink and clear embossing powder which I can sprinkle over or mix with colored and inked areas of the paper.
I also, at some point, want to try some encaustic painting, and see if I might be able to combine it with relief prints. I've decided to use this first artist's proof and perhaps some others as bits to cut out as shapes for future collages, and will cut out areas of future prints that would be otherwise discarded because of some flaw.