Japanese woodblock printmaking, moku (wood) hanga (print), is distinguished from other printmaking techniques by the simplicity of materials involved in its creation. Wood, water, paper, pigment, paste, and simple carving and rubbing implements are all that is needed to make a print. The process, however, is labor intensive for the artist, who must undertake the roles of designer, carver, and printer.
To move from the inspiration of the sketch to the mechanics of the print requires organization of color and space. Initially, the artist carves a block of wood for each color to be printed. Areas that are not to be printed are cut away, leaving a raised surface, as in the principle of a stamp. Pigment, dispersed in a water and rice paste, is placed on the block and smoothed across the surface with a brush that looks similar to a shoe brush. A sheet of sized and dampened paper is then placed on the block; proper alignment is by two registration marks that are carved into each block at the same time. To print, the artist uses a baren, flat hand-held disc that is wrapped in a bamboo sheath, to press the pigment into the paper.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS:
Lynita Shimizu has been breaking woodcuts using the Japanese techniques of moku hanga since the mid-seventies. Originally from Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, Lynita graduated with a Fine Arts major from Westminister college in 1974. Following a year at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, she moved to Japan to conventrate on woodblock printmaking. During her four-year stay, she studied in Kyoto with an elderly master of traditional woodblock printmaking, Tomikichio Funasaka. From Japan, Lynita and her husband moved to River Edge and Pomfret, Connecticut where they raised their three children, two of whom are Woodstock Academy graduates. Today, Lynita;s studio overlooks a beaver pond on the edge of the Yale Forest in Ashford.
Lynita has exhibited her prints in Kyoto, Uganda, Italy, Scotland, and Israel. Exhibits in the United States have ranged from Michigan and Illinois to New York City to New England, with numerous locations in Connecticut. She has demonstrated moku hanga techniques at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and her demonstrations have been filmed by the MFA.
Visit Lynita's website, shimizuwoodcuts.com, for further information.
Matt Brown makes color woodblock prints using the Japanese moku hanga method. Matt graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College but turned to the building trades after college with the hope of doing work with his hands. He thinks of his years as a builder and cabinet-maker as a woodblock pintmaking apprenticeship of a sort: learning to work with wood, to judge by eye, to draw plans and to build a thing part by part and step by step. He credits an exhibit of Hiroshige prints in January of 1993 at Darmouth College's Hood Museum as the inspiration which led him to turn to begin experiments with woodblock printing using the Japanese method. In 1995 he became a juried member of the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen and closed his building business. He has made his living full-time from printmaking ever since.
Matt's imagery is mostly of New England landscapes with an emphasis on New Hampshire and Vermont lakes and mountains and the Maine coast. Other themes include his family, New York City, images involving birds, flowers, and animals, and copy prints of old masters. He teaches classes, usually three-day workshops, three of four times each year.
In 2017, Matt took over an exising art and craft retail space and re-worked it as Matt Brown Fine Art. You can visit his prints at this venue as well as at galleries around northern New England. These include all eight League of NH Craftsmen gallery locations in Hanover, Meredith, Center Sandwich, Concord, Nashua, Hooksett, Littleton, and North Conway; Mitchell-Ciddings Fine Arts in Brattleboro, VT; the Woodstock Gallery in Woodstock, VT; the Edgewater Galleries in Middlebury and Stove, VT; Vallerie's Gallery in Newburyport, MA and Portsmouth, NH; the Green Lion Gallery in Bath, ME; the Turtle Gallery in Deer Isle, MEl and at Isleford Artists on Little Brandberry Island in the Mountain Desert Island area.
Matt lives and works in both Lyme, NH and New Haven, VT.