Thots About the Process I use
about the print process I have adopted.
I stumbled into this process.
A number of years ago I came across a large collection of Japanese prints in an antique store and quickly bought them all. Once in the studio, I became lost in the study of their process and history. I had always been attracted to Japanese prints, knowing the printing process was different than that of the oil-based ink and roller that I was accustomed to. The more I learned about the process, the more I moved away from traditional Western style relief printing.
I was attracted by the simplicity.
There is an efficiency of line and shape in Japanese prints, and the process uses the simplest tools and mediums. The press is a small hand-held disk. Pressure is controlled by the texture on the disk and by gentile hand pressure. The ink is a simple mix of paste and pigment. Ink is applied with a squarish brush of hog or deer hair. There are just as many variables to the Japanese process as in the Western style of printing, but Japanese printing is all about touch.
I have a direct interaction with each stage.
I am physically involved with the control of each step during printing. I can apply ink to a specific area or the entire the block, blend colors to create a gradation or modulate the subtlety of tone. When transferring the image to the paper with the disk or baren, the amount of pressure and the texture of the baren creates different effects. This interaction is like sketching outdoors where there is a direct interaction of translating the mood of a scene onto paper.
I can be impatient.
I get excited about an idea and want to see it on paper. The Japanese process allows me to print multiple color layers within a day, unlike oil-based inks that need to dry for a day between layers. While printing, I will often see what needs to print next and how to print it. As the image develops with multiple layers of color, I am continually reacting to the image, printing new color layers to create the mood I want to feel.
I have a goal and a loose plan.
I wish I could say I have a detailed plan of how an image will print. Sometimes that original concept flows through the process easily producing a clean image. More often, as the image evolves, colors and values need to be adjusted towards the end goal. There is a process of deliberation and action after each color layer has been printed, moving towards the end goal of rendering the mood I want to feel. This is where the creativity of the Japanese process allows a block to be printed multiple times with different techniques to push the image towards that mood.