Watercolour white-line, Provincetown Print

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In 1915, a group of artists in Provincetown, Massachusetts, were working together and exploring Japanese woodblock printing in 1915. They greatly admired the traditional Japanese type of woodblock printing, which requires several blocks of wood to produce a finished print, as well as keeping a close watch on the registration. One of this group found a way of simplifying the process by using only one block of wood. It is considered the only North American contribution to the art of printmaking.

Only one complete print at a time is produced. Watercolour dries quickly as it is absorbed into the woodblock, so only small areas are worked on and effects are built up in layers. This means a variable edition is produced, one print at a time. The original chiselled lines are the constant, while the colours change with each print. It is both painstaking and exciting.

All subject matter and ideas work. Pressure, a stone, or a burnisher are the printing press and watercolours are your ink. One can work on a kitchen table with simple supplies. Simply put, this is fun!

Orkney has been an inspiration in my life since my first 1984 visit and is the subject of the majority of my prints and paintings. The megalithic standing stones are a constant curiosity. I will make bespoke prints of pets and you can chose to have the print and the block it is made on, making it very special.

I rarely make more than 10 prints from a block. You can read more about this technique in First Impressions by Lisa Hooper, Langford Press. She attended one of my workshops in ArtWorks of the Earth.

John Rae
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