Wednesday, 2 May 2012

A little bit of Kacho-Ga

After showing the crashing wave oystercatcher picture as my next piece I am having a small intermission.

As previously mentioned in my list of 'Things I want to try with prints' one was what the japanese call Kacho-Ga. Prints of Flora and Fauna. I had this lovely sketch of a robin that came to sit on my picnic bench at Tan y Coed and obligingly stayed still for plenty of sketches and photo's. So I thought rather than sitting and staring at it from time to time I would try and get it drawn up and printed before the end of the week.

I transfered the robin on to the lino and then started thinking about where he was going to sit.......

On my courses I stress over and over again the importance of settling on your composition before you transfer the image to lino and here I was breaking my own rule. I didn't have a clue what to do around/behind this robin. I looked at reference for different trees and habitats, looked at other artists renderings of birds. Even, when wandering back from the post office, stopped to stare up through the branches of a suitable tree on the pavement much to the bemusement of passersby.

I then saw these new indian ink permanent markers I had bought to trial drawing with lying innocently on the table, and mused that one of the other things I wanted to try was drawing directly on the lino to keep a more fluid natural line...

First option. It was really nice to put the colour directly on the lino to give a sense of where the emphasis would lie. Drawing straight on with quite a large marker keeps the fluid spontaneity that is lost with the tracing and redrawing. The next task is to make sure I keep that quality of line when I cut.

Wasn't quite sure about the blue background branches here, like some of the marks but felt a bit to chaotic and distracting from the foreground and the important bit. Got a bit carried away being fluid and  didn't stop when I should have done.

So just thought I would go a bit cutty and tonal, so I scribbled over everything below the stump. Felt very nice to be able to start cutting directly after drawing so loosely on the block. No tracing and drawing over. Tried to cut close and keep to the drawn quality, then got all cutty for the tonal background..

It's quite dark for a first colour when I have a light brown, a dark brown and most important a robin red breast to go in there somewhere. As usual it will lighten up as the colours progress.

Now something I always try to do when ordering paper is get a couple of sheets of something I haven't tried before. This Robin is being printed on papers I am very familiar with: A BFK Rives mould made deckle edge 210 gsm, ( A good beginners paper for the courses ) a BFK Rives mould made deckle edge 250gsm, ( currently my paper of choice, and the one I printed the previous oystercatchers print on ) and a Zerkall extra smooth 250 gsm. Then I thought I'd try a new sheet of something I had received in a TN Lawrence order recently.

Well! I may only have found my perfect paper. So far on the admittedly meagre evidence of one colour on two sheets ( It looked so good on the half sheet I used that I immediately dragged out the other half and whacked some ink on that to. ) It looks and feels very good quality, has a slight woven texture, is a bright white, is actually 285gsm ( normally far to heavy and thick to print by hand satisfactorily but is so soft I needed to use less pressure than when printing with the 250 gsm Rives ). Picks up the colour and fine cutting very well. I am in love. As much as you can be with a 60% rag mould made italian paper.

I won't mention the name, as it's early days and as we have both been disappointed before we are taking it slow. I need to see how she reacts to a second layer, maybe even a third before we go public.

We've got another date tomorrow and I'll let you know how we get on.


  1. The quest for the perfect paper. It never ends, does it? I'm anxious to know how this works out... and to ultimately know what it is! (Not to mention seeing how the print progresses.) Thanks, Ian!

  2. Absolutely, you only have to have one "bad paper day" as I think we've both had with the Hosho/Hodomura to realise how important a good reliable paper is. All that hard work time and effort undone so easily. So far this paper seems too good to be true. So I am also quite interested to see how this print and the paper turn out. As for the identity of the paper, shhhh. I can whisper it to just you if you like!
    Nice to hear from you Sherrie

  3. ohhh... It's tempting, but I do quite like the suspense. Well, I WILL like it if we reach the conclusion by Monday. ;-) I'm actually headed to your side of the pond next week. Sort of. I shall be on the continent, and VERY sorry to not have the time to do a bit of (ahem) island-hopping. Perhaps next year....?