Monday, May 02, 2016

Japanese Block Prints

This week our painting travels took us to 19th century Japan, where we learned about the woodcarving block prints of ukiyo-e painter and printmakers of the Edo period, such as Katsushika Hokusai. This artist produced an amazing series of 36 views of Mt. Fuji, the largest mountain in Japan. The print to the left is an example of his work.

We used a simpler, less time consuming way to create our own printing plates, using thin styrofoam sheets instead of wooden blocks. 

In one two-hour period, we were able to draw (or press) our designs into the sheets using sharpened dowel 
 (instead of carving them out of wood). Then we went a step further - we cut each section apart from the others, which would allow us to create prints with two or more colors; and we experimented with mixing and blending two ink colors at a time on the brayers to create blended colors from top to bottom, such as in the sky. 

Using our brayers, we rolled our chosen colors on the largest plate sections and rolled the color to the paper, which was a darker color. Then we did the same with the smaller plates, fitting them into the design like puzzle pieces and pressing them as before to transfer the colors. As you can see, after a few experimental prints, our results were pretty extraordinary! 

After the prints dried, we added signatures on paper squares, written top to bottom. 

Of course, the idea with printing is to be able to make more than one print. Some artists made just two, others made up to six, and one or two tried switching out all of the colors used in the first prints for completely different colors in the second series, using the same plates. Very nice!

Special thanks to our volunteer extraordinaire Erica Baguley, 
who prepared and led this inspiring painting project!

No comments: