The woodblock “West of Cottonwood Pass” made some good progress over the last few days. I started by drawing in what I wanted to carve on the large spruce directly onto the block with a permanent marker. The next morning I spent carving in the detail, leaving the lines I drew.
I started the afternoon by printing a light warm red over the middle of the central peak to give it a bit more detail and interest. This was previously carved and I wanted the color in so I could get a good feel on how to mix the color for the large spruce. One of the freedoms with the process is that one can printed a section of the carved block and not the whole area.
I decided to print a medium value green over the large spruce and the grass. I will wait to print the dark hillside later. I like printing the image in bite sized pieces as I can then control that areas value, color and color temperature. I did not print the left side of the block.
I printed the full green over the spruce and diluted the color down for the grass. This was done in one print run. The ink, a mix of water, pigment and binder, is dabbed judiciously onto the relief areas of the block. It is surprising how little ink is needed to print a strong color. After the ink was applied, small dabs of water were applied near each ink application. To dilute the color over the grass, a little more water was applied in that area. The ink and water were then brushed out in small circular motions to evenly distribute the ink on the raised areas of the block. That gray area on the block is not a moon but an addition I printed on the clouds on a previous run. Since the ink is applied to specific areas and pressure applied to the inked areas only, an area such as the gray cloud carve will not effect the printing.
The paper was laid over the inked block, registering the paper to the block using the kento tabs located at the top corner and along an adjoining edge at the center. They can be seen in the photo at the top right corner and the center of the right side. I used a baren to apply a gentle pressure to the inked areas to transfer the ink. The baren is a hand-held 5” circular disk covered with a bamboo leaf. The ribbing of the leaf helps to add pressure, transferring the ink to the paper.
The Japanese print process is all about touch, from the ink application to the pressure of the baren. Each step affects the image. The amount of ink applied can vary slightly and show as a stronger color from one print to another. Even the pressure applied to the baren will affect the amount of ink transferred and the clarity of the printing.
I am involved in the creation of the image at every step of the process. Each print becomes an individual piece of art.