The past two weeks have changed the way I work in ways I never suspected. Prior to a monumental woodcut workshop I attended at Anderson Ranch, I had A) written off Japanese paper in favor of western ones, B) printed woodcuts almost exclusively on a press, and C) knowing of, but having no interest in Japanese brushes. I was a tight cutter, gouging my way around crosshatched lines. I even recognized this, and looked to contemporary artists such as "Tal r." as inspiration for creating expressionistic, loose gestural marks that cater directly to a medium.
Looking back a year and a half ago, I was committed to stone lithography. I moved out to the desert to draw on stones. As far as I was concerned, woodcuts were a thing of the past, something I could return to any time after school when I didn't have a room full of stones to draw on. It made sense, being a drawer, what better medium than lithography?
I did lithographs. I loved the medium and the romantic notion of drawing on the stone in the desert, but my images fell flat. My colleagues were asking me why I was not doing woodcuts, which worked to my advantage, producing fresh expressionistic lines ( that also catered to drawing). I started producing woodcuts again second semester, but what I was really banking on was a month long technical workshop at the Tamarind Institute concentrating on Aluminum plate lithography that I would do in the summer. Obsessed with being productive, Anderson Ranch was a backup.
Amazing how things fall into place. I was not invited into the Tamarind Institute ( I was told to re-apply next year ), but received grant money to attend Anderson Ranch. The instructor was Paul Mullowney, an artist and printer that worked with many artists I admire ( Sandow Birk, Swoon and Chagoya to name a few). I even met Paul in Chicago years ago and purchased a print from him.
During this time I was introduced to a way of producing woodcuts that was unfamiliar to me. I learned that Japanese paper is far stronger and more versatile than western paper. I saw the beauty of Japanese brushes, misters, and hand made barens. The loose, expressionistic production of a woodblock came natural when painting with sumi ink. Work I have been wanting to do for some time, such as repetitious imagery and collage also came naturally with this process. Printing by hand now seems a viable option to printing on a press. Even when working much larger, hand printing seems more practical.
While learning all these techniques I realized that this has cemented my move from lithography back to the woodcut. To think a year ago that I felt so strongly against relief and wanting to only do lithography. I am excited and eager for my Noribake to arrive.