Fine Winter’s Sky / woodcut by Kawase Hasui / Feb 1921

IMG_1363 This is a great exhibit at the VMFA. It’s so inspirational. The plaques say it’s ink and color woodcut prints on paper. I wonder if it’s watercolor because they have some watercolor paintings by the artist. The colors look transparent on the woodcuts too. A lot of depth is showing. One of the plaques says it’s not traditional Japanese landscape. They also have a lot of info on the process he used. It’s complicated. But good to see how much work went into them. You can see layers of colors. I tried to see through the layers. Kawase Hasui did watercolor studies and changed his composition and colors during the steps to the finished prints. He didn’t shy away from detail. The ones with snow have thousands of white dots for snow and the ones with rain have skinny gray lines to represent rain. I wonder if they did a separate wood plate for the snow and printed it on top or if they gouged out tiny dots on the wood block so the ink wouldn’t go in those places on every block. If you like looking at fine woodcuts you should see this exhibit.

Port of Ebisu / Dec. 1921

Port of Ebisu / woodcut print/ Dec. 1921

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Kanago Village , Ibaraki Prefecture by Kawase Hasui

woodblock print / 1954

woodblock print / 1954


The VMFA has these great woodblock prints from the master ! They are all so beautiful that I couldn’t decide on a favorite, so I’m posting 5 of them. I hope my camera shot is focused because you should see the detail ! How did he do it ? What I remember about woodblock prints is that you cut away on a block, and when you put the ink on with a brayer, the ink doesn’t go into the cut away sections. Then you press it onto the paper. So check out those tiny black lines. Did he draw them on with a pen and ink ? Or did he cut away the wood on either side of the line ? They are so precise ! Talk about tight register ! And all done by hand ! I’m seeing depth, shading, smoothness, and blending. And I’m sure if I tried to do a woodcut, it would look rough next to these. I wish I could learn this guy’s process ! If anyone out there in computerland knows the tricks to making a really fine looking woodcut, please tell me !