Thursday, August 12, 2010

My studio smells like HONEY!?

I began experimenting with Akua-Kolor inks with my last two moku-hanga prints of the Valley of Fire. They work exceptionally well for this traditional Japanese method, but I also wanted to try them in the Western roll'em'up'n'press'em method (that is a long technical term requiring more explanation than this blog can possibly get into).

The best part of Akua-Kolor is that my studio smells like honey when I hang up the prints to dry. It is the sweetest smell! Maybe I just like working consistently again.

Anyhow, nothing like a print exchange or seven to get the presses rolling, or the baren sweating, or whatever. So for my Baren Exchange #45 I decided to jump right into the thickener of things and roll out the Akua.
The colors are amazingly impressive, the purity of the transparency is just incredible; I can't think of another word for it. Here are some of the plates:

Oh, forgot, if you are in Exchange #45 and like surprises, read the rest of the blog post with your eyes closed.

The theme was "maps" so I went "flying" over the earth until I found a neat spot (insert credit here to Google Earth). 

Key block on the right printed in violet/purple/umber containing all of the relief and some ancient petroglyph symbols thrown in for good measure.

Blue block on the left with the lake, river and anywhere I wanted blue or green.
So far, so cool...

Hansa Yellow on the right printed all over the areas surrounding the lake to make my brown eyes, to make some of my blue areas green.

The transparent sienna/orange plate was really a second state. After printing the first three plates, I wanted to "kill" the contrast a little and produce two more colors: a light sienna/orange over the cream paper and a slightly more rusty purple/umber over the open areas of the key block.

Next picture is the first three plates combined to make a "State 1" which really makes the blue POP!
And finally, the four plates combined to make "State 2" with the transparent rusty stuff all over. The blue still pops fine and there is more of a SW earth to it. Or something.

I haven't made my mind up which state I like best or which orientation I like best either. Looks good vertically too. Maybe I will sign it in all four directions and let the viewer place as they like it. The original reference is flipped but I liked it this way better.

I have a title this time:
36° 08' 45" N

114° 23' 49" W


  1. Woodcuts were the first printmaking technique I learned at Herron. It is such a raw, and pure way to create and reproduce images. It still amazes me to this day for such a multi-century old art form. I have not been a man of abstraction and expression, but looking at these prints, I think I might come around more to it. I have heard of Akua Kolor before, but never have I seen its quality, its beautiful and apparent has a lot more pleasant scent than any oil based block ink. The imagery is interesting, since the theme was a "map." Whats ironic is that when you think about a map it helps one to find and locate through terrains, but the image you created completely negates the ideas of roads, streets and locations. Near demographic in a way. There is definitely some expressionism, but if you flip the final image 90 degrees to the right reminds me of Henri Matisse's Icarus and The Dancer paintings. The Blue shape when flipped has a very humanistic character much like in the paintings, in my opinion. Color choices are a point of interest and delight, the blue is very minimized but with the primary background of yellow really pushed it forward, almost near complimentary. If I could read map coordinates then seeing and comparing to the real image can provoke more interest and questions.

  2. Hi, thanks for your comments. The original view of these coordinates is quite similar in some ways. I distorted it freely in Photoshop first to achieve composition. I thought perhaps the blue shape resembled a bird, but yes, I see the "human" in it as well.

    As for the orientation of the image, I had a tough time deciding which way to sign it. The image works every which way and gave me a different interpretation as I flipped it around.

    Thank you for your comments!