--- Back to the 'Small Print Collection' Front Page ---

Small Print Collection: Print #4

Fuji at Dawn

David's New Year card for 1993

Enlargement | Discussion on this print/story | Send this print as an E-Card

This print collection takes off in a completely different direction now, with this 'impressionistic' rendering of Mount Fuji.

When I cut the blocks for this image back in late 1992 I was of course still buried in work on the Hyakunin Isshu poets' series. Although I was thoroughly enjoying my daily work on those prints, there was one drawback to the project. The designs themselves were of course already decided - drawn 200 years earlier by Katsukawa Shunsho - and on top of these, I was creating my own colour schemes for the clothing, trying to create an attractive appearance for each print. But I had no freedom to stretch out and try different printing methods; because it was a series, I had to make all 100 prints in a very similar style. For ten years I had to stick to a very small sub-set of the printmaker's vocabulary. To take just one example - in Shunsho's day, the bokashi gradation technique hadn't even been invented yet!

So at the end of that year, when it became time to prepare some blocks to print the greeting card for the new year, I think I was ready to break out and try something different. Instead of the usual cherrywood blocks, I picked up some plywood; instead of a neat and sharp outline for the design, I cut some simple colour 'masses'; instead of my usual 'careful' flat colours, I let my brushes run roughly over the wood ...

I didn't have the confidence - nor the desire - to produce a completely abstracted print, but it was an attempt to try and learn a little bit about how the 'other side' - the sosaku printmakers - produced their work.

Even though this image was well received, and I heard plenty of comments along the lines of "Please make more work like this," I really don't think work of this type suits my character, and a year after this, when my next chance to create a 'free design' print came around, I went back to the careful traditional methods, carving an extremely detailed and finely-crafted print.

You'll see that one next month!