Friday, July 09, 2010
This is a glimpse into a piece I'm exploring using gyotaku. This brook trout is my guinea pig for a variety of compositions, techniques and washi papers. I will also be using some prints to test wet mounting. This is the method of backing the painting with another similar sheet of paper to strengthen it in preparation for framing. It also eliminates any wrinkles that occur during the printing and colouring process. I will be using wheat paste as the 'glue' and am hoping that this won't disturb the print or watercolour on the painting. If it does, I guess dry mounting will be the other option, though more expensive.
I'm experimenting with a variety of Japanese papers until I find the ones that best suit my need and the needs of gyotaku. These papers are so different from the usual art papers. They're light, with tissue-like qualities in some, denser in others. Some are machine produced and some hand made. Some have sizing, some not. They range from $1.25 a sheet to $15 a sheet. (I haven't dared print the $15 sheet yet). The most expensive sheet of paper I've seen is $190 for a 32" x 72" sheet. It is gold Fusuma and I don't think that's in my budget and even if it were, I'd be holding my breath the whole time I was using it, waiting for something to go wrong.
As I experiment, I find out more and more about the potential of gyotaku simply by the printing and enhancing process. There are endless options available to me in terms of enhancement. and the print technique is like unveiling a new gift each time I peel it off the fish.
The prints stand alone without any additions except painting an eye. The paper can act as the showcase using the colour as part of the piece or natural paper can be used which allows for additional enhancement of colour, backgrounds, shadowing, etc. Enhancing with watercolour on paper that is very lightweight is fraught with problems. Water spreads out uncontrollably but I'm now able to get more control by knowing what mediums hold in the water, just how much pressure to use on the paper and where exactly it will spread.
I thought coloured pencils may be useful, but find a sharpened point is death to lightweight paper. It pierces it easily or pills the surface if I rub a blunter pencil over it. I think watercolour will be my medium of choice, and great care taken with it. Pastel can work if very lightly applied as I want to print to show through clearly and have the colour tint it.
I am in the process of creating the content for a gyotaku workshop which will be held in March 2011 in St. John's. More details on that once content and venue are finalized. All I can tell you is that it will be a one day workshop that will enable participants to go home with a number of beautiful fish prints and a lot of knowledge.