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Thursday, July 27, 2017

New Mexico Road Trip- Santa Fe Workshop

Mokuhanga is Japanese woodcut. I took a five-day workshop at Making Art Safely from artist Annie Bissett. I tried the "beginner mind" approach to this workshop, having never done this technique before and not knowing what to expect, I jumped in.
Annie demonstrating printing using a baren

Mokuhanga is both an artistically and physically demanding medium. You might be familiar with Ukiyo-e, a style of Japanese art that extensively used woodblock printing. The Japanese created beautiful, popular images and colorful prints for the masses and employed teams of artisans to produce them with different craftsmen drawing, carving, printing, etc. Andy Warhol would have been proud!
Five days wasn't long enough to create any finished artwork but it was long enough to learn the basic technique. We had to have a drawing to work with when we arrived. The first day we learned to create the color separations onto the four blocks, two days to carve, and the last two days to print. Most people had something for the show and tell at the end- at the very least, a print that was close to being finished.

I realized that after I arrived, I had to greatly simplify my drawing so I had minimal black lines to carve since they are the most difficult thing to carve. We all labored over the carving, with cramping hands and dulling tools. We used traditional shina plywood from Hokkaido, traditional carving tools, baren, hake (brushes), rice paste, washi, etc. The brilliant thing abut mokuhanga is it's low-tech and relatively low financial output (You can spend $$$ on Japanese tools though)- no etchant, no mechanical press, no solvents, no ground. Like some printmaking techniques, you are not ready to print in an hour (Solarplates and monotypes come to mind), but ready to print in days, weeks or even longer. It's extremely safe, and like most Japanese art forms, the concepts are easy to learn but take many years to really grasp and even longer to master the medium.
Carving black lines is challenging

Carving large, flat areas is a bit easier
Overall, I will likely try mokuhanga again; re-thinking my images to fit the medium will be part of learning this process and the beauty of it is that I can create prints using this method in a space as small as a kitchen table. Images can be as simple or complex as you want and it can lend itself to mixed-media artwork. This is my best print of the week- some success with bokashi (gradation) but it's not finished artwork- I like to think of it as an exploration into mokuhanga!

"Wish Machine", 4th state, unfinished print. 

Explore more woodblock printmaking and mokuhanga- here are some of my favorite artists working in this medium:

Catherine Kernan
April Vollmer
Tugboat Printshop
David Bull

More New Mexico Road Trip coming soon- next up, Silver City!
Ciao ciao,

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

My, That Was Long Break!

I'm back! Starting to blog again- and post art updates! In a nutshell- I've been working a job or two or three, lost the studio space with the etching press, so I'm re-grouping and working on some new ideas. To facilitate this, I'm very excited to be taking a mokuhanga (Japanese woodblock printing) course in Santa Fe very soon from this artist.  I've also been hanging out with this amazing lady- she makes really cool bracelets too- check her "About" page.
Stay cool and enjoy your summer!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Art in Public Schools- Something New and Wonderful is Happening in California

Hi friends!
Yes, I'm alive- just taking an art break!
Here is a really cool article about art in schools! How science is changing the way schools think about art
Enjoy the holiday weekend,

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Making Art Safely in Santa Fe:The Painted Intaglio with Lennox Dunbar

I had the extreme pleasure to finally be able to take a printmaking workshop from Scottish artist Lennox Dunbar in Santa Fe, NM earlier this month. Lennox is a painter and innovative printmaker with a distinctive style. A short bio about Lennox Dunbar is here. 

One of Lennox' prints. This one is called "Wire"and is #4 in an edition of 10. 

Lennox inking a painted intaglio plate
Lennox has invented his own method of non-toxic plate-making, creating a technique that is both intuitive and elegant. His process is easy to grasp if you have knowledge of basic printmaking techniques. That is where it ends though. His way of working and making plates often defies description- it's not a collagraph- these are intaglio plates.  His plates are not assembled from bits glued onto a surface matrix. They are carved, painted, sanded, and cut out. He uses shaped plates like "paint brushes" (his words) and layers plates, colors and images to create rich, textured surfaces. This method of plate making is edition-able, unlike monotypes. Plates can be worked and re-worked, similar to a traditional intaglio plate. You can proof them, see what you have and make changes to the plate.
A collection of some of his shaped plates
Lennox demonstrating how he prints his shaped plates

Oblong shaped plate printed over another shaped plate.
(This print was created for demo purposes and is not finished)

This workshop was all about experimentation, so we made plates with the idea of seeing what would work. We tried different substrates for plates, including PETG plastic and melamine-coated MDF as well as numerous paintable materials for creating a texture that would hold ink. I made step-scale and plates testing different materials on PETG and MDF, made multi-plate prints, made a shaped plate, and learned to incorporate a shaped plate into a printing sequence.
Rough MDF with successive coats of Golden Self-leveling Gel medium. 
I took many videos at this workshop rather than notes, so I will be uploading video to YouTube over the next few weeks. Most are decent, but I'm new to creating, editing, and uploading video made with an iPad, so these are not professional quality! They were made for my own reference and to share with other workshop students, so I will only share a few.  

In the meantime, here are some of my experimental plates I created and printed. Keep in mind that these are not necessarily art; these are prints created from learning a new process.

"Tornado I", 1st state, intaglio print. 

"Tornado I", 2nd state, intaglio print. 

"Tornado I", 3rd state, intaglio. 

I will add more photos soon and video when I'm finished getting it all edited!