I’m not sure I’m going to make this post public, so if you’re seeing it, apparently I didn’t get into a bunch of…what I’ve been writing about previously, today (in a paper journal). Yes yes, I can rant and curse all I want in a paper journal…
I have been having problems concentrating today. Much of this, earlier, had to do with the fact that I was having so much internal “noise” that I could not focus on my (assigned) reading. This isn’t literally stuff that I physically heard (i.e. hallucination); this is thinking about things that…had little to do with what I was trying to do, except for the fact that I was doing reading for the grad program and didn’t want to be, but felt I had to. Then I started thinking about the idiocy that is one of my classes and how my standing in the program may be jeopardized by not sufficiently learning some outmoded obsolete overly complex archaic system from a person with his own issues…which I want to drop, by the way, but I’ve gotten Financial Aid, which kind of makes that a bit more complicated.
Anyway. I’m trying not to think ahead to Fall. I also have something to write…for which, I can consider this practice. That is, it’s difficult for me to jump right in to answering questions in an essay format when I haven’t warmed up. I suppose one can consider what I did earlier to be a warm-up, as well, but it feels different to write by hand, as versus to type.
In any case, M had me writing earlier to try and clear my head. It worked to an extent — I did get seven pages out (I used a bold pen, so that’s double-spaced), though it doesn’t solve the problem (which should resolve itself in several weeks).
I also read through the text portion of Shin Hanga, which was a nice break. The text is only Part I of the book; the second part is made entirely of reproductions of these woodblock prints and their associated metadata (artist, year, accession numbers, etc.). Shin hanga were like an updated version of ukiyo-e, but not…the only branch to spring from that. Sosaku hanga (“creative prints”) were another offshoot, with one person controlling the entire artistic process — whereas shin hanga and ukiyo-e more often were the result of team collaborations.
I found a webpage (from MIT) which goes over how woodblock prints were created — well, more than one, actually; I also found an article on bokashi at Wikipedia (that is, how color gradations were made in this form of printing, used extensively in the prints reproduced in the book Shin Hanga) — and it is very clearly…complicated. Enough so to make one seriously consider digital printmaking. I mean…really. The prints had to be highly labor-intensive and exacting.
The possibility of, say, applying a color gradation in an outline…is possible in digital printmaking, and from my experience, I would say it is likely seriously easier than carving a negative of that linework and then applying a gradated ink wash to it and then lining it up and printing it. On doing a Google search and then following a Pinterest link, I also found a link to the following blog post (by serendipityartist) on WordPress, from 2007. This makes it seem less…unclear, but still, the author mentions needing to “season” the wood block and getting just the right amount of water mixed in to avoid artifacting…(I don’t know if that’s the right word when used with non-computer-generated art…)
M wanted me to write more, to clear my head further, but I found it essentially very peaceful to just look at the prints and try and analyze how they were working, from the viewpoints of color, line, and composition. In this sense, the prints are very…sophisticated. The reason I got the book, Shin Hanga, in the first place was to study composition: a subject which is different depending on the cultural origin of one’s training. I had found this first through the book Chinese Painting: Techniques for Exquisite Watercolors, (excuse me while I shift back to a common form of title capitalization) by Lian Quan Zhen. There are a couple of sections in that book, if I’m recalling right, about composition…which leads me to wonder if the compositions of some (or many) of the prints in Shin Hanga (the book) were invented or idealized, and not as they appeared in nature.
But that goes off on a fairly different avenue than what I’ve touched upon, tonight.
I think I’m about ready to start my essay, now…