For the last several years I have participated in a print exchange of Chinese Zodiac New Years animals, sponsored by the Baren Forum. The gallery for last year, the Year of the Rat is here. 2009 is the Year of the Ox and I just finished my contribution for the year.... a little late as the year began on January 26th. I will send out 53 prints to 53 other printmakers and they (most of them anyway) will send one that they make to me.
My image is a composite of several pictures in books and strongly influenced by a cow in a print by one of my favorite woodblock artists, John Platt. I referred to a black and white reproduction in a book I own which I used in planning my image. When I looked for an image on line to refer you to, I found this on the Woodblock.com site.... I'm not sure copyright allows me to show it here. I was thrilled to find the book by Platt (I had seen it listed before and thought it was the same book that I have which is more just a catalog.) and plan to read it through soon. David Bull has put together an amazing amount of information on woodblock printing on the Woodblock.com site, in particular the Japanese method and is also responsible for starting and maintaining the Baren Forum which sponsors the exchange.
Anyway, back to my print. A lot went wrong, as usual when I make a print. I love the process, but haven't made a print for almost a year and like playing a musical instrument or painting, it takes lots of practice to be even half way good. I print using Japanese technique. I printed it reductive using one piece of locally milled yellow cedar, carving out parts of the wood after each color printed.... this probably won't make much sense at all unless you know what reduction printing is... go here if you're really interested for an explanation on the last print I made. My husband had planed the wood with a friends planer and we both sanded it. Evidently not enough. I should have stopped after doing the first impression and started over, but continued, and didn't do as many impression (different colors or values) as I had planned to. There was a area across the middle of the block which was lower than the rest making getting an even print impossible. My old bamboo sheath covered baren did a better job than my ball baring one but not enough to get an even print. I couldn't get a good bokashi either.... gave up trying. The worst thing I think is that there isn't enough contrast between the oxen's hooves and the light colored grass .... and he seems to be levetating. Oh well, it was fun to make it and even more fun to get the one's made by the other participants.
Here is one of the better of the 70 or so that I printed. Its about 4 by 6 inches.