A whirlwind visit by Crawf and Ulli gave us a chance to visit the AGO for a look at the current Outsiders photography show. I would not recommend that show particularly, but on the way home (via our embarrassingly unreliable streetcar service that ended with a taxi ride), we had some luck.
Elizabeth Forrest was demonstrating Japanese woodblock printing at the Gerrard Art Space when we returned to our neighbourhood. In a relaxed but informative session, Elizabeth showed us how she makes her prints, impression after impression, on rice paper. Her “inks” are water-based gouache colours, mixed with a rice paste to smooth their flow.
While experience, skill and knowledge of materials are obviously required, it’s a lot easier to understand the process when you can see it being done. I was surprised to learn how much each print could be controlled, adjusted, strengthened and modified as it was being made. Rather than being a simple, repetitive process with consistently predictable results, there is room for creativity in every impression and a moment of anticipation as the paper is lifted.
Thus, no two prints are ever exactly the same, and, if the printmaker chooses, each impression can produce outcomes that are very distinct from one another.
I was reminded of Japanese raku pottery firings I have seen … where skill and knowledge set parameters around what the glazes will do, but leave an element of uncertainty and potential for delightful surprise. I like the aesthetic. Elizabeth’s Japanese block prints share some of it.
Bill’s Blog — https://billandersen.ca