Coming from a painting background where the possibilities seem endless, I am more and more fascinated by the limitations imposed by woodblock printing.
What excites me is the level of individuality that comes through. It is such a direct, tactile process – in a sense its range of marks and qualities are unique.
The emphasis at Tama Art University (where I studied) was on students finding their own approach to this traditional technique. This is something that has stayed with me.
For example, although at times I use the traditional kento system to achieve a tight registration, I often take more flexible approaches. I also like to combine the more controlled cutting adopted by many Japanese printers, with the freer expressive style more commonly associated with woodcut in the west.
One of the materials widely used in Tama is varnish. As this repels watercolour, it can be applied to the wood as a painterly addition to the mark-making process.
Often a print will come about through a combination of planning and intuitive evolution. This can result in a print being one-off, or a series of variations. These may be resolved into a ‘final’ printed edition but just as often the creative impulse has taken its course.