Today's postings

  1. [Baren 31836] process brain-storm ("Maria Arango")
  2. [Baren 31837] oil based ink on damp paper (a stark)
  3. [Baren 31838] sekishu paper (a stark)
  4. [Baren 31839] Re: oil based ink on damp paper (Barbara Mason)
  5. [Baren 31840] Baren Member blogs: Update Notification (Blog Manager)
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Message 1
From: "Maria Arango"
Date: Wed, 20 Sep 2006 09:00:36 -0700
Subject: [Baren 31836] process brain-storm
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Well, it took me this long to read Mike's tale on layering ;-)
No, actually, I read it about half a dozen times because it is always very
interesting and energizing to hear an artist speak of their "process
reasons." Mind you I'm a visual person and when folks out there ask me about
a certain image I usually cop out and say: "I'm a visual person; images
appear to me and I print them. Words are for critics."
Mike's reasoning about process had the effect of making me think about my
own way of approaching the medium. I had questions for myself, the biggest
of them being, "am I just making woodcuts without thinking, churning out
another woodcut-a-week to get me closer to my 1000 goal?"
I know that's not true because I mull often and long about process before I
actually begin hacking at my woodblocks, which neatly led to the next
question: "So what is it that I am doing as a printmaking artist?"

As Mike began thinking about layering about ten years ago, I was in school
nearly graduating with a Masters degree in something else and wondering what
it was about printmaking that fascinated me. I watched all the "kids" around
me take on the contemporary printmaking trends of layering, Xerox
transferring, photo-basing, computer-manipulating and generally producing
prints in that very modern collage-like bulletin-board approach with the
various printmaking techniques. Whether by stone, plate or screen, the
result, to me, was always a sort of busy collage of (mostly) appropriated
and often photographic-based imagery. Add some lettering and we have modern
printmaking. Sigh. That just wasn't me at all so as I received my diploma I
entered the corporate rat race and forgot about printmaking for the time

Time didn't pass very long and I began thinking about what it was that I
loved about printmaking and, looking at my student work, I began to
understand myself a bit better. For me it was the simplicity of the plate,
now exclusively the woodblock, that made my juices flow. I did a full-color
lithograph once that used only three plates (the process colors). Most of my
work was black and white, etchings were line-based and detailed, lithographs
were mostly crayon always drawn on stone as I shied away from plates. Never
got really into serigraphs as the current instructor was heavy into
photograph transfers, Xerox copy transfers and lettering to produce
poster-like silk screens.

No, for me the layering of elements (not the way Mike uses line layering)
was just clutter and the resulting images I see as confused and noisy but
lacking dynamic energy, like a highway at rush-hour.
Enter woodcuts! I was looking for a printmaking medium that was simple and
honest, bold and energetic. I truly fell in love with woodcuts, not so much
the elaborate traditional Japanese moku-hanga, but the energetic and valiant
European cuts. The breaking down of a planned image into its lines and color
areas and reproducing the original drawing/painting with the woodblock
process held little interest for me. In fact, I always personally thought
that printmaking ought not to be based on a previous drawing or painting or
manipulated photo as that would reduce printmaking to a reproductive
technique as opposed to an art in itself.

For me, the simplicity of the single block of wood was always the lure. The
questions became: "how can I get more out of less?" Like line drawings, how
can I say more with less?
Woodcuts are perfect to rein in my layered-bulletin-board personality and
force my focus on producing as interesting image I can muster with a single
block of wood. I have seen it written someplace that a woodcut must always
"honor the wood" and perhaps there is some of that. As I finished my first
few prints I realized the block wasn't just something to be planed over or
erased like a litho stone. In fact, those ghost images on the stone were
quite beautiful as well. The painstakingly carved wood became "something"
for me, much more than a process by-product, a work of art in itself.
Perhaps at some point the block became just as important as the print, much
contrary to the teachings of both modern and old traditions where the print
is the ultimate end and the block simply a means.

The tools of the single block are few but powerful; I have contrast in both
light and color, of course, but also detail as in engravings, areas of
defined color as in puzzle cuts, gradated variations in color as in rainbow
rolls, textural effects achieved with various tools, sanding and lowering,
and, the most powerful visual tool of all, the energetic simple line (maybe
why I keep feeling irresistibly drawn to engravings).
And obviously the challenge and ultimate goal is to make interesting woodcut. While others seek interest in complexity, I strive to
explore the next single block of wood and ponder about how I can make it
yield something a bit different, something that makes the viewer take a
second look, especially when viewed up close, or maybe when viewed from far
away. Movement and energy are always a goal.
The challenge becomes increasingly how to squeeze more out of the block
while preserving it as a work of art. The decisions I make along the way
(I'm not much of a planner, although I think a lot) have to achieve a
balance between producing the best print while preserving the best block.
My process, more and more, comes down to desciphering the yield of a single
block--I wonder what the next one will suggest?!

Anyhow, thank you Mike for the insightful words. I would be interested in
hearing about other's woodcut processes and reasoning behind them; sort of
like taking a virtual peek into each other's art-brains.
That's certainly enough for today!

Maria Arango
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Message 2
From: a stark
Date: Wed, 20 Sep 2006 17:06:26 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: [Baren 31837] oil based ink on damp paper
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i remember printing with oil based ink on damp paper my senior year in college for a monotype class. has anyone done this with japanese paper? also, i recently bought some daniel smith oil based ink. has anyone brushed this ink onto their block to make a print...if so how?

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Message 3
From: a stark
Date: Wed, 20 Sep 2006 17:10:33 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: [Baren 31838] sekishu paper
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i recently bought some sekishu paper. i am wondering what kind of ink prints best on it-oil based or water based and if i should wet it first. i'd like to see some prints by anyone who uses sekishu paper!!!

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Message 4
From: Barbara Mason
Date: Wed, 20 Sep 2006 19:06:18 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: [Baren 31839] Re: oil based ink on damp paper
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Yes, You can use any paper damp with oil based inks, but some paper is so soft it will tear so you must use care when you lift if from the block. Be sure to print on the smooth side of oriental paper, as that is the side with the sizing.
Usually one would roll oil based ink onto the block, not brush it. What type of ink did you get? It would be difficult to get it smooth enough with a brush but you could probably do it with practice and a brush that was not too large and very stiff. Thinning the ink enough to brush it can cause other problems...

I got a kick out of your name...if this is your name as my grandaughter's name is Dakota and she has called herself Dako since she could barely now the whole family uses it too. She will probably be sorry as an adult!
Best to you,
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Message 5
From: Blog Manager
Date: 21 Sep 2006 03:55:08 -0000
Subject: [Baren 31840] Baren Member blogs: Update Notification
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This is an automatic update message being sent to [Baren] by the forum blog software.

The following new entries were found on the listed printmaker's websites during the past 24 hours. (23 sites checked, five minutes before midnight Eastern time)


Site Name: Wood Engraver

Author: Andy English
Item: Productivity


[Baren] members: if you have a printmaking blog (or a website with a published ATOM feed), and wish it to be included in this daily checklist, please write to the Baren Blog Manager at:

For reference, sites/blogs currently being checked are: