Already, January has disappeared into a cloud of dust – literally, here, with the weather being dry, hot and very often windy – and we are fast approaching the middle of February. Already, several projects have been completed and others are underway, with more deadlines fast approaching. To celebrate the Chinese New Year, the Baren Forum (for woodblock printers) organised a New Year card swap. I and Forty-plus other printmakers from all around the world signed up for the exchange.
With 2013 being less than auspicious in many ways, troubling in some, and lacklustre in other aspects, I decided I would like to bring some gayety and colour into 2014. The above woodcut is my interpretation of the symbology of the Chinese astrological aspects for the year of the green, wood, horse. This print had its challenges, but was fun to do, the colours lifting my spirits as I printed each in layers, using the reduction method of printmaking.
Out of 63 prints I ended up with enough for the exchange and a couple of extras. The rest are just ‘okay’, but that’s one of the risks of the reduction method, in which there is no going back. While pulling the prints, it doesn’t pay to allow your focus to wander – perhaps the first lesson for my personal New Year. Registration (the method of lining up each consectutive layer with the previous layers of colour) can be tricky. Also, by the time I was printing the final colour of dark blue, the block had been reduced to the point of having little support for the paper, the blue ink showing up on some of the prints where I didn’t really want it (especially in the signature space).
Print exchanges are a great way to see how others tackle the subject, in this case The Year of the Horse, as well as the different methods of printmaking. It is also a thrill to check the mailbox and find a small work of art sent from the other side of the globe instead of the all-too-regular bills.
All in all, I’m pleased with my first printmaking foray into a bright new year.