Sosaku-hanga with John Overton

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Sosaku-hanga with John Overton


January 19, 9am-3:30pm
Class size max 8 participants
Bring lunch. We will break from 12-12:30pm
Beverages provided.

Sosaku-hanga (創作版画 "creative prints") was an art movement in early 20th-century Japan. It stressed the artist as the sole creator motivated by a desire for self-expression, and advocated principles of art that is "self-drawn" (自画 jiga), "self-carved" (自刻 jikoku) and "self-printed" (自刷 jizuri).

Participants are asked to provide their own carving tools - see below.

Class participants are welcome to show their work at the closing open house reception of "Retrospective: Evolution of John Overton," January 27 12-5:00pm

In this workshop I will introduce you to the core principles and techniques of sosaku-hanga, a modern Japanese woodblock tradition that was developed from the Ukiyo-e prints of the 17th and 18th centuries.  The critical difference between this Eastern approach and Western woodblock printing is the use of water based inks instead of oils (non toxic) and blocks that are hand rubbed with a baren rather than a press.   

For this workshop we will work in black and white and in an 8"x 10" format.  I will provide you each with an 8"x 10" birch veneer wood block.  To preserve time you can create an image in advance then make a "xerox" copy of it at the copy center.  These can be transferred directly to your block at the workshop.  Carving tools will be provided to share during the day but if you have a set of wood chisels bring them or if you would like to purchase a set in advance they are available at or  I will show you basic sharpening techniques.  Printing barens will be provided to share and I will show you how to make a simple one.

Next we will discuss paper and it's relationship to the medium.  I will provide you with Japanese paper and help you prepare it for printing.  

The afternoon will be devoted to printing your images.  There are several ways to ink and apply pressure to the block creating a variety of looks to your image.  I will demonstrate this to you all and work with you individually.  Stenciling techniques may also be employed and I will show you how to integrate them into your work.

By the end of the day you should have a fairly well developed print that you can take home and refine over the next week.

John Overton studied sosaku-hanga for two years 1971-72 with an American Master who had studied in Japan with Hideo Hagiwara.  He has practiced the medium and taught it throughout his career at Cornish College of the Arts from 1975 - 2013.  In addition John taught a 5 week course in sosaku-hanga at Dartington College, Devon England in 1978 and a 4 week course at the University of Alaska, Juneau in 1979.  

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