Printing Gorge Two Track
I always feel like I am reaching a turning point when printing an edition as I start printing the foreground on a woodblock landscape. There were some six color runs to complete the sky and horizon, before I decided it was time to build or layer colors into the foreground to describe the two track road that drops down to the Rio Grande Gorge Rim.
The carved block is positioned on the table with damp sheets waiting to be printed on the left and sheets that have been printed on the right. I spend some time to set up my print area, as I want to know intuitively where my ink, water, and baren are positioned. Once the print process begins, printing needs to move along quickly so the block and damp paper do not dry out. It is important to maintain an even moistness on the block for the ink to transfer cleanly. The next step is to test or proof the colors and print technique I want to use during the printing. With the color and print method decided, I can then focus on the actual hand printing of the image.
Ink is applied to the block with a square stiff, short hair brush using small circular motions and then finalizing the inking with broad cross strokes where the brush touches the block with the gentlest pressure, leaving an even application of ink over the raised surface the block.
The paper is then set into corner and horizontal tabs on the block face, registering the printed paper to carved block. Pressure is applied to the back of the paper using a textured circular disk called an baren. Different print effects can achieved by varying the pressure and texture on the baren.
The moment of truth is always when the print is lifted from the block to reveal what printed. When the print is finally completed, most proofs are destroyed as they usually have misprints, blotches of color or mis-registrations. I will save 1 or 2 artist's proofs and color proofs which are numbered, titled and signed.
There is still a lot of carving and printing to complete the image with the Rio Grande Gorge looming in the mid ground.