I learned a new technique
For the past two years I've been bumping into Laura Boswell and her beautiful Japanese woodblock prints, and longed to learn. In the end, this past September I used my birthday money to book a one-on-one tutoring day, and it was last week that I spent a very rainy Tuesday in Buckinghamshire, being initiated into this wonderful technique.

Japanese woodblock printing produces beautifully subtle prints. You can make the colours as strong or as delicate as you want them, as the medium is watercolour! As it is applied to the plate with a brush, this also means you can create gradations of colour, blended effects, and also change the colour effects from print to print so that each is quite unique. You can layer colours for transparency effects, and achieve mottled textures by controlling the mixture you apply to the plate. I'm only brushing the surface: it is probably the most painterly of the printmaking techniques. Any water-based medium can be used, so gouache and ink work equally well, but what this means for me is I can print with natural, home-ground pigments!

I also really enjoyed the cutting process, which is done differently from Western woodcutting (basically you hold the chisel as if you were going to stab someone with it, and you pull towards you.) I was so absorbed during the session that I only took a single photo, the one above, where I used an old design of mine that features overlays of colour. I have big ideas for this technique, particularly as I want to make some tiled pieces... a nod to a Middle-Eastern tradition, but revisited.

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