A Shin Hanga Technique 3-fer

Masks, Wiping, and Goma

If you’re not familiar with shin-hanga or ‘new prints’ from the 1920’s, 30’s and 40’s, there was a group of artists that were assembled by Shōzaburō Watanabe. Of these artists, the most notable being Shinsui Ito, Kawase Hasui, and Hiroshi Yoshida.

The last two are my main influences- they both were originally painters and brought a western-style flavor to landscapes.

“To emulate their paintings shin-hanga artists used ukiyo-e (by then a long-dead period) style woodblock printing techniques which were hybridized by introducing multiple layering and other innovative techniques. This allowed for a ‘mini-renaissance’ for woodblock.”

I hope that people like Paul Binnie (London), Matt Brown (NH), Leon Loughridge (CO), Yours Truly and others can give some life back to the movement- should we call it “Western shin-hanga“?

Either way, I have posted several process print series from Hiroshi Yoshida in which there were obvious wiping one such image from his “Kagurazaka Dori” shows both techniques:

Keyblock for Hiroshi Yoshida’s “Kagurazaka Dori” in which the lights are wiped of ink.
The red areas on the left are using the same keyblock, but a mask is used for selective printing. This dovetails with the previously- wiped areas on the previously-printed keyblock impression to create a sense of glowing through the depiction of glare.

Above you can see the masked areas (indicated by the red glow of the lights) using the keyblock below the wiped areas in the earlier-printed brown keyblock above.

Fast forward to 2018

Here is a video of me using similar techniques. In case the video doesn’t load, here’s the Youtube link.

During the video I mention that I’ve wondered how such technically complex shin-hanga prints were made using such a small number of blocks. Blocks are very often used multiple times for different colors, but they are generally separated by some space to avoid inking the wrong area. By using a mask, the printer could isolate areas without this concern. Wiping also allows for dual duty as you can see in one of my prints “Sunfish Pond, NJ” #8 from The Appalachian Trail Complete Prints series

The green on the lake reflections is produced by the same medium green block as the trees, but before printing, I wiped the reflection areas which gives a hint of color rather that the full value. The same is done with the orangy cloud color.

8. Sunfish Pond, NJ showing wiping in reflections


In addition, I add a little paste at the wiping area and leave it out of the main part in order to create “goma” or blotchy printing to emulate the texture of rocks.

All of these effects are vastly different than the usual ukiyo-e techniques and, to some degree, resemble the act of painting on the blocks- something that is very difficult to be consistent.

Here’s my finished proof featured in the video- #13 another one from The Appalachian Trail Complete Prints series.

Franconia Notch, NH- wiping, mask, and goma


At the risk of sounding ‘cocky’, I think that I’m getting there!

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