Today I am showing the stages of a Japanese woodblock print I just completed. The subject is sunset and moonglow on Pyramid Peak in the North Cascades. I carved three blocks of shina plywood for this print.
Step 1. On the first block, I carved out the moon shape and the illuminated snowfields. In printing this block I used two colors, a blue and a crimson; the nori (rice paste) allows for a delicate blending and gradation--a subtlety that continues to draw me to moku hanga printmaking.
Step 2. On the second block, I carved the peak and rocks below. I used a mixture of alizarin crimson and paris blue gouache, made by Schmincke. For the time being I am using gouache, but I plan to use dry ground pigments for my next print. I'll grind them with a little bit of rice paste, using a palette knife to eliminate the larger crystals and grains of color.
Step 3. Seen above. On this block I carved the cast shadows on the peak and the trees on the ridge below. One of the things I appreciate about printmaking is the neccessity of seeing shapes and values. This is not always as obvious in watercolor, where I find I can get caught up in subtle light effects, small details, and elements that don't always have the power of shape and contrast.
I order all my materials from MClain's Printmaking Supplies in Portland. They have brushes, carving tools, wood blocks and beautiful papers, plus a very knowledgeable and helpful staff. I recommend them highly; all of the folks who have taken my phone orders have answered my questions with great care, their shipping is phenomenal and quick. My only regret is that they don't have a storefront in Portland--they are strictly a mail-order business.