|25 January 2016|

Paul Binnie has released two stunning Japanese woodblock prints to mark the beginning of a new year.

The internationally acclaimed Scottish artist developed his unique block printing style while working with Seki Kenji, head printer at Doi Hangaten, in the 1990s.

His latest work: Tokyo no Yoru (Tokyo Night) in tones of blue and Tokyo Nostalgia in sepia (see above) are the latest editions to his extensive portfolio.

The wires and cables seen in the upper part of the Tokyo prints are in fact genuine metal wires, glued to a block and printed.

“I used two blocks made this way to create the jumble of cables seen on any Tokyo street, Paul told Innovators. “Traditionally, the wood used for Japanese woodblock prints (JWP) is mountain cherry wood, which is now scarce and protected due to excessive exploitation. I use a plywood made of Japanese Basswood (shina), a shortgrained type of linden or lime-tree. This is much more abundant, not endangered and its useage doesn’t negatively impact on the environment.”

“Old JWP only used cherry blocks, and to print from anything else would be unthinkable; I have printed from copper, zinc, fibreboard, lino, fabric, plastics as well as various woods to achieve the richness of surface impressions in my prints. In addition, I have extensively used tradtional water-based pigments, but for details have also added oil-based pigments, as well as metallic colours like bronze, copper and silver, and gold-leaf, none of which appear in traditional JWP.

He added: “For a design such as the two versions of my recent Tokyo print, I did not begin with an outline block, known as a keyblock, the basis for all traditional JWP. In many prints I still use a keyblock, which makes it easy to fit colours exactly into their proper places and make everything align correctly, but in some instances, like the Tokyo pair, I begin with a drawing on tracing paper, which can be transferred onto the block each time the block needs to be carved down.

“This is another innovation, the idea of reduction print, or beginning by printing the palest tones of a colour and carving out the parts to be left pale, then inking slightly darker and printing again, then carving out to leave those areas in the second colour and carving once more, inking darker still, and so on to achieve gradations of tonality all printed from one block. Standard JWP use any number of blocks, all carved before the process of printing begins, and it is due simply to the fact that I design, carve and print my own prints that I am able to create works in this way.”

To find out more, click here.