MY PROCESS: MOKU HANGA, JAPANESE WATERCOLOR WOODBLOCK PRINTS
I usually begin an image with sketches or paintings done on-site, and then simplify the design, focusing on the lines of movement and the essential shapes that define the image. After figuring out how many woodblocks are needed to separate the colors in the design, I transfer the shapes in reverse to woodblocks. On each block, I carve away areas that will not be printed leaving the raised (relief) image. I apply light-fast water-based pigments and rice paste to the raised areas, mixing them with a brush directly on the block. Then, I place dampened paper on the block, and rub it with a hand-held baren to transfer the impression. Multiple blocks are used, usually one for each color; overprinting two colors creates additional colors on the print. Usually I print the lighter colors first, and the darkest one last. I print some blocks with a Bokashi (gradation.)
I primarily use Rives, a 100% cotton French paper. All matting and framing materials are acid free and archival.
This print WITNESS measures 12" x 6" and was printed from 7 blocks. This shows the progress of the rubbings. The first block was uncut just a tonal block. After printing block 6, I returned to block 3 and printed a Bokashi or gradation on the top using a pthalo blue mixture. Then printed it again extending the Bokashi further down, this time using two colors, a blue-violet and a cobalt blue. The colors look dark because I photographed each stage when it was light. The colors lighten up as they dry.
I titled this one WITNESS, for the role of the tree at the edge.
Rubbings 1 - 6 are on separate blocks, for rubbings 7 & 8, I used block number 3, and printed the Bokashi (gradation printing) twice at the top of the sky. Rubbing 9 used the final block number 7.