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Work on the next print begins

Posted by Dave Bull at 9:11 AM, June 11, 2008

Finally, after nearly two months since the previous posting, work on the next print - The Seacoast in Summer - has begun.

What have I been doing during that time? Well, the edition for the Forest in Spring had to be printed (two batches of 100+ sheets each), which took a day or two! After that, I made a 10-day trip to Canada on the occasion of daughter Fumi's graduation from the University of British Columbia. And unfortunately, those two 'jobs' didn't line up exactly, so I had a week-long gap between the end of the printing and the start of the trip, too short to get involved with starting the next print. But that time wasn't wasted, as I used it for pushing the construction on my downstairs workroom along a bit. But I'm safely back in Tokyo now, and ready to get back in harness on the Solitudes project!

But I have some 'bad' news for you. For the first five prints in this series, I have been very open with most of the production process, showing everything from first drawings right through to the finished print. This time though, I am going to do it a different way - I'm not going to show any photographs, etc. that will have enough detail to allow you to see what the print will look like. Here's why.

The Seacoast in Summer is (chronologically) the first of the visits to the sea in this series. It was actually my first camping trip to that location, and it was very enjoyable, exploring the new place. I enjoyed beautiful clear weather ... sunny skies during the day, and ... a beautiful full moon that night.

Hmm ... full moon ... deep dark sky ... water ... The print kind of suggests itself, doesn't it.

And that's the problem. That design has indeed 'suggested itself' to pretty much every person working in the shin-hanga field, getting on for a century now. The moon hangs there in the sky, and below it, we see a glittery reflection path in the water ... Beautiful of course, but ... kind of cliché by now.

Now it wouldn't be so bad for me to make a print like that - after all, although the design may be a bit hackneyed, it could still be 'beautiful', and I'm sure that's what the collectors want. But I'm thinking that I can take a bit of a different approach, and have an idea in mind ...

But - I don't want to show or talk about this before it's done. I want the collectors to pick up the book, read the story first, and then turn the final page of the book to see the print in context!

So for this print - and I think for this print only - I'm going to keep the curtains closed on the production process. Only after the books have been shipped, and I know that they have been received, will I put the web page up for everybody to see.

Whether or not this print will be successful is far from clear to me just yet, but anyway, this is how we're going to play this one. I ask everybody to please be patient, and I hope that you will understand when you see the finished version!

[Added later] The thread continued here ...


Following comment posted by: Marc Kahn on June 14, 2008 2:05 AM

Dave says: "I want the collectors to pick up the book, read the story first, and then turn the final page of the book to see the print in context!"

Yeah, right. That's probably the way it's going to happen. ;-)


Following comment posted by: Peter Belsito on June 14, 2008 2:41 AM

I've received my fourth print from "Solitudes" and I'd want to congratulate you on the work so far. While I've always admired your work, I feel that this original series surpasses anything you've done in the past. I'm sure it was a huge leap of faith for you to go from recreating masterpieces to producing your own designs, and I'm certain too that your confidence in your own vision is growing. I cannot wait to see the rest of the series.


Following comment posted by: Dave on June 14, 2008 8:49 AM

Yeah, right ...

It's just the 'control freak' in there trying to escape and 'do his thing' ... This is one case where I envy the movie director - he can program exactly the way that any scene is presented to his viewers, something I envy him for.

The lighting in the room, how close to their face that people hold the print, how long they look for ... I can control none of those things! :-( :-)

a huge leap of faith ...

It's still early days for me to be talking too much about this whole thing - making this switch from reproductions to originals; I'm still very much blowing hot and cold. One minute I'm thinking they look 'not too bad', but the next minute I'm thinking that I want to run and hide and pull the sheets over my head.

I guess it's not such a bad thing for a 56-year-old to make a leap like this and try to (can I say?) 'reinvent' himself, but honestly speaking, I have a lot less confidence this time around, when compared to the last time I tried it (leaving my job in Canada to try my hand at printmaking in Japan ...). Back then it didn't matter what came out of it, but this time, people are 'watching'!

So thanks very much for the positive reaction ... it helps a lot!

Following comment posted by: Jacques on August 8, 2008 7:34 AM

Dave, I received your Seacoast in Summer story and print today, and it was absolutely worth every day of the wait!

I thoroughly enjoyed reading your summer adventures on that beach, not only for the story's own sake, but also because I was on my toes all the time and kept wondering : 'did he use THIS scene for his print? or maybe the next scene? or maybe THAT scene?'

Actually there were two scenes that immediately jumped out to me as great candidates: the one that you witnessed during the night, and the one with the 'chain of double dots' in the early morning at sunrise. But I was also well aware that both scenes seemed very challenging to make a print of.

So I was not only very pleasantly surprised to see - when turning the last page of your story - that you indeed DID try to tackle one of those two scenes, but also how beautifully it has turned out! A wonderful print!!!

Following comment posted by: Dave on August 8, 2008 7:59 AM

I was on my toes all the time and kept wondering ...

Jacques, so glad to hear that you decided to try it that way ... and that you had the stamina not to peek at the back page before finishing the story!

I'm happy now, that at least one person went along with my little game!

Note to everybody: prints for the overseas collectors were all mailed in a single batch this time, and now that they are arriving at their destinations, it seems that it's almost time to open up the web pages.

I'm going to wait until I've received a scattering of 'got it!' emails from here and there, and will then put the print up for everybody to see, along with some RoundTable posts dealing with the production process ...

Following comment posted by: Annie Bissett on August 10, 2008 10:05 AM

Dave, this print is stunning. I look forward to hearing more about the production process in further posts, but for now I'm just enjoying the wonderful surprise of seeing this print for the first time. Reinventing oneself in one's 50s (I'm not far behind you) is frightening -- lots more at stake now -- but what a great adventure. And it's not like you're starting from scratch -- you have an immense amount of experience and skill to draw on. Looks to me like your leap into the world of making original prints is going very well!

Following comment posted by: Glenna Heath on August 11, 2008 2:30 AM

Dave, I have enjoyed learning from your website and the Baren group as I have been learning about woodcuts and etchings the last 4 years. Re-inventing myself as a painter/printmaker started at 65! When you stop growing you start into senescence. G. Heath

Following comment posted by: Julio Rodriguez on August 16, 2008 8:00 AM

I too liked this print very much from the very first look....Aahhh, if I could only get my 'blacks' to look so rich ! You done a wonderful job at recreating the feeling of being there...the broken features/contrast around the edges of the moon really give it a three dimensional look...and of course I could not help myself in running my fingers gently over the moon to feel for the light natural embossing in the paper.

I have looked at the moon through a pair of binoculars many times and still each time it takes my breath away. You have captured this feeling to a 'T'. Also another great story to go along.....thanks.

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