Shell game

Shell Game
Mokuhanga woodblock print with chine collĂ©. 12 x 6″. 2020.

This little guy was my most ambitious mokuhanga print to date. (Mokuhanga is the traditional form of woodblock printmaking in Japan, relying on a handheld baren for pressure, rather than a Western-style printing press, making it much easier to set up a home studio.) To achieve some subtlety in the leaves, I did multiple passes of slightly different colors of pigment (in this case, watercolor paint) and attempted a bokashi (gradient) effect. Since this was a reduction print, I gradually carved away the leaves as I worked until finally the only information left on the block was the snail himself. You can see the green of the leaves peeking through parts of the shell.

This was my first print in several months, after focusing primarily on collage-based works, so it seemed appropriate to incorporate some collage elements here as well. After completing the woodblock portion of the piece, I ran each print through the etching press along with an assortment of colored papers (each piece backed with a water-activated adhesive) to create the chine collé grassy field that the snail is planning to snack on later.