Mary Brodbeck

Mary Brodbeck

Kalamazoo, MI
Patina, Woodblock Print
18 x 22

The Traditional Japanese Approach & Technique to Color Woodblock Printmaking

The traditional Japanese approach to color woodblock printmaking is to create images based upon color, composition and design. (By comparison, Western approaches are based much more upon mark-making.) Each color woodblock print is carefully planned in advance before any carving begins. The multiple colors are drawn out onto separate blocks and are printed one at a time.

Techniques specific to the Japanese process include the use of brushed-on water-based pigments, kento registration (groves cut into each block for the print paper to set into), and a handheld baren as burnisher.

Because of the use of water-based pigments (water color paints), the ink actually gets imbedded in to the paper after it is burnished, rather than remaining on the surface as with oil based inks. The transparency of the inks allows the paper to shine though, creating a luminous effect.