I'm just about to start trimming and packaging my next print.
It's based on a simple Hiroshige print I came across in a book I have, which I reduced down and played around with in Photoshop before pasting it onto the blocks to carve. On the original print, the sparrow was printed the same red colour as the flower petals. I've changed it to something a little more 'sparrowy'.
There are 4 magnolia blocks in this print, the black key block, red, grey and one block which had the brown and deep red seal. The black and grey block are both printed with sumi ink.
The image is approx. 6x16cms (2.5x6 inches) and is one of my smallest, but most finely detailed prints to date. The edition will be around 50 or 60.
I'm pleased with the result as this was a real learning exercise for me. I wanted to do some tight, detailed work and get a really even finish to the printing of the colours.
This print has taken me some way up that very long and interesting path.
I'll be doing more prints which are based on Japanese images in the future (how better to learn the process than by following the experts?) but for now, I want to create some new designs based on the landscape and wildlife around my home town in the Ribble Valley. The public response I've got from prints based on my own designs as opposed to 're-creations' of old images has given me the confidence to work on my own ideas.
My re-working of existing images, mainly from old Japanese woodblock print ehon (picture books) has been a kind of correspondance course across the centuries, and I'll always return to them to learn, reproduce prints and to seek out endless pleasure and inspiration. There really is nothing to compare to these humble looking little books in the West. Here, there has always been some kind of mental block to the idea of a book which is completely devoid of words. It's an alien concept to most people, sadly.
I'm sure the Japanese influence will still be visible in my new prints too though. As other European and American printmakers and artists discovered towards the end of the 19th and start of the 20th Century, once you've exposed yourself to the amazing breadth, vibrancy, energy and quality of Japanese woodblock print images it's impossible to see the world around you in the same way again. A bit like looking at the sun too long, but it a really good way.
Before that though, I need to print up my Grace Prints. The blocks are waiting, the proofs are done. I just need to set aside a day or two to print the edition.