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Getting started with Printmaking

This is a post that’s been a long time coming. Earlier this year, the weekend of my birthday, I decided to head to Pune to meet with Hamsa and Rikta, but also kicking the whole thing off with a three hour workshop on print making that was conducted by Nachiket and Ruve of ‘The Art Circle‘.

So I’ve been interested in printmaking for some time, and had always wanted to learn screenprinting and other methods, but never really got down to it. And then the year that I attended Aalto in 2013, I saw that there were a bunch of interesting courses. I figured when I saw this workshop that it’d be a good way to get started. That’s exactly what it was.

photo by Ruve photo by Ruve

So in the workshop, Nachiket gave us brief idea about the origins of printmaking, some of the materials that are generally used, and then we got down to business pretty quickly. We would be using fairly soft foam board to make the patterns, and using oil based paints. Here’s a few photos from the process..

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Because I don’t fully trust my artistic abilities, or rather that I would be inspired on the spot, I thought about what I’d make on the bus ride over.. and thought about this graphic, origami bird. So I was off drawing, etching within a few minutes of the demo.

 

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And here’s the finished output!

Needless to say this was a ton of fun, and was far simpler than I thought it was going to be. Emboldened by this early success, I decided that I’d sign up for the Japanese Watercolor Woodcut Printing course when I got back at Aalto. I’ve been working on it for the past 10 or so weeks. And here’s a few photos from that process.

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This is what I was going for. The image kind of sprang in my head from a story a Finnish classmate told me in our first month of college. About them driving up to Lapland, and where hitting reindeers on the highways was a real menace. And for some reason this image was stuck in my head. So I put together a bunch of icons from the noun project, and came up with this.

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At the base level the techniques of relief printmaking are similar, in that you create the image through etching and such on a block, and then apply the paint onto the block, finally transferring the paint onto the paper. And repeat until the block deteriorates beyond use. Japanese woodcut, especially in the way that it was taught by our professor Kari, a professional artist and printmaker, really got into the nuances of the kinds of wood that are perfect, the cutting tools, and their care, and so on.

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Here’s some process shots.. Although I have to say I’ve now come to realise how terrible I am at documentation..

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Cutting was super challenging! But I have to say going in every Wednesday and just being completely offline was superb to begin with. But the key to cutting well, is to be fully present and thinking about each bit that you’re carving. That was quite the experience. As they say on highways in the mountains.. ‘nazar hati, durghatna ghati’.. :)

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So the print was broken down into three prints basically. The sky was done as a gradient, the headlights and the moon were done in this vivid yellow and then everything else was done with deep black.

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And here’s the final outcomes! :)

I’m super keen to continue doing some of this in the future. Let’s see how that plays out.

Everybody’s got a plan, till they get punched in the face

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