TODAY, I learned to prepare a painting board as opposed to canvas.
The board, in this case is some beautiful mulberry wood that a Japanese Woodblock printer sold me, especially for woodblock printing. If I remember his name was Noboru. I digress! The teacher for the Woodblock Printing Course at UBC was generous in sharing the names of her suppliers. One of the most wonderful things about woodblock printing is that it requires a series of skills that I enjoy – drawing, carving and printing…and as a new ‘printer’ I fretted over the first steps, laying out and carving the registration marks for laying paper on wood. The registration marks allow the artist to contain the paper in the exact same spot so that the layers of detail and color can be added accurately to the print (though some incorrect registration occasionally yields interesting overlapping results). Actively carving the ‘edges’ of your work forces you to understand the space you will be working within…beginning the intimate journey it takes to plan and execute a piece of artwork.
Woodblock painting can be SO simple or SO complex…how much goes into a piece depends on the skill and patience of the printer and what kind of mood is to be created.
The Japanese are masters of woodblock printing and understand when to render the subject matter in either meticulous detail or iconic simplicity. Like Haiku, woodblock printing helps the artist capture the essence of the image while at the same time working with the grain of the wood and the limitations inherent in the medium.
My first woodblock print was a maple leaf…having been to Japan while living down under, I returned to Canada keen to learn the art form.
I have really only used three colors in this print, (not including the background) each color laid down separately. “Return” is a very basic print…nevertheless it was my opportunity to re-learn using carving knives, think about the printing process from a design standpoint, and master the use of the printing tools – wood, brushes, color, and Baren, the hand press!
How to paint on board as opposed to canvas and how to prepare the surface is in my Painting and Art projects section!