[image_with_animation image_url=”11503″ alignment=”center” animation=”None” box_shadow=”none” max_width=”100%”] Many new artists feel they need an original idea for every artwork, but most experienced artists get a lot of creative mileage out of one idea (especially a simple idea), repeated in iterations. Here is a great example: Temple Dogs, a series of 8 by Ralph Kiggell. Each illustration is essentially the same idea, moved around. (For reference, these prints tend to be about 24″ wide.) The Prints These dogs are great compositional studies, an opportunity for the artist to play with shape as it divides the picture plane. The black shapes and the brightly colored shapes are both nearly equal in visual weight, which adds to the sensation of movement within the composition. Woodgrain texture adds an extra layer of interest, sometimes looking like fur, sometimes referencing the process of how it was made. As a person who interacts so frequently with plastic, fast manufactured, and digital materials, I have gained extra appreciation for the woodgrain visible in woodblock prints. In Kiggell’s prints, the wood grain softens and warms what otherwise could be cold and heavy, or lacking in character. These woodblocks are hand printed with water based inks. Below are some excerpts from his website, illuminating his process. Enjoy. Process (by Ralph Kiggell) “The whole process of woodblock printing for me is a sensitive one, which I express entirely by hand without presses and machines. When the image and materials work well together, I feel an organic part of the process, rather than the instigator and controller.” Water-based pigments “If I mix water-based pigments together, I can make approximations of the colours I see, create soft or sharp tones, or a range of transparent and opaque colours. A colour can be made brilliant by printing lightly or by mixing with more water to let the white of the sheet shine through. It becomes creamy by adding white. I sometimes mix fluorescent orange, yellow or pink into a colour to light it up, although I usually prefer to work with pigments that are mineral or vegetable based.” Handmade paper “I print on different kinds of mulberry (kozo) paper, a strong, layered paper of enmeshed fibres made in Japan. I may use thin paper so that I can print on both sides. This gives me great freedom with the colours, because printed from behind, they can be muted or mottled, whereas from the front they can be made creamier, flatter and sharper.” Printing by hand “There is a sensuality, sensitivity and unpredictability in my work, because I print by hand using various barens: some made from a disc of coiled twisted strings of bamboo and covered with a leaf from the base of the bamboo; some made from 100s of ballbearings that spin countless times across the back of the paper.” “My prints can be enhanced by the texture of the wood and from the marks made by the baren, which I use like a brush, so that no two prints are exactly the same, but have their own spontaneity.” – Ralph Kiggell Of course, we have several printmaking classes this fall, including one on Contemporary Woodblock. Lucky me, I get to take them all. Want to join me? Click here to find a printmaking class that works with your schedule. Last chance! Fall classes start next week, September 16th.