Tuesday, November 5, 2019

A New Moku Hanga Print; Return from SWLA Annual Exhibition

Least, Solitary and Spotted Sandpipers. Moku Hanga print by Ken Januski. 10.5x8.5 inches. Printed in 2019 on Echizen Kozo paper.

It's taken quite a while but I've finished my eighth moku hanga print: Least, Solitary and Spotted Sandpipers. The entire print as 10.5x8.5 inches and it's printed on Echizen Kozo paper. I haven't sorted out what prints will be in the edition but I expect it to be around 25.

I originally planned the print to be on Nishinouchi paper and spent forever proofing various versions on it. But after I'd started printing I realized that I had no Nishinouchi paper left other than the first 12 or so prints that I'd already printed. Since I was soon leaving on vacation I didn't want to leave it on hold until I got back and new paper arrived. So instead I did a small version on Echizen Kozo. Echizen Kozo is a much more expensive paper but still I was shocked at how much more I preferred the resulting image. So when I returned from vacation I continued printing on the Echizen Kozo. Though I like the Nishinouchi version I don't think I have it in me to go back and print a larger edition on it. One thought I have had about the two papers is that I might prefer the appearance of the Echizen Kozo when I leave a fair amount of bare paper on the print. For prints where there is little or no bare paper Nishinouchi may be fine. I do know that I've been happy with it on some earlier prints.

Below is both the version on Nishinouchi and a photo of about half of the edition on Echizen Kozo.

Least, Solitary and Spotted Sandpipers. Moku Hanga print by Ken Januski. 10.5x8.5 inches. Printed in 2019 on Nishinouchi.

Twelve of the entire printing of 30 prints on Echizen Kozo paper. Some will be culled for a final edition of around 25.

I decided to use these shorebirds as the subject of a new moku hanga print soon after drawing some Spotted and Solitary Sandpipers from life at Morris Arboretum. They are not the best field sketches I've ever done but along with some similar field sketches from May of this year they were the inspiration for this print. I think I like them because I know that they are an honest response to a bird that is right in front of me.That type of inspiration I almost never find in my photos. For me it remains true that my art inspired by photos looks exactly like that: art inspired by photos, not by real life. Below are some of those field sketches.



Sumi brush pen field sketch of Solitary Sandpiper at Morris Arboretum. By Ken Januski.

Sumi brush pen field sketch of Spotted Sandpiper at Morris Arboretum. By Ken Januski.

Sumi brush pen field sketch of Spotted Sandpiper at Morris Arboretum. By Ken Januski.


Sumi brush pen field sketch of Solitary Sandpiper, feeding Wood Ducks and dragonfly at Morris Arboretum. By Ken Januski.


Late this summer I also did some sketches from photos of both Spotted and Solitary Sandpipers. I didn't do them with any intention of preparatory sketches for a print but just because I wanted to study the structure and movement of the birds. They are below.

Sumi brush pen sketches of Solitary Sandpipers by Ken Januski.

Ball point pen sketches of Spotted Sandpipers by Ken Januski.

Sumi brush pen sketches of Spotted Sandpipers by Ken Januski.


Most of the motivation for this print came from seeing and sketching Solitary and Spotted Sandpipers from life. As I began the sketch for the print I decided to put in another shorebird that I've often sketched from life, the Least Sandpiper. I'm not including any of those sketches since they are from a few years ago. When I did start sketching the preliminary drawing for the print I also used some of my photos, but only after all of those field sketches.

Once I started the actual print though more formal considerations took over: how does the print look? Do those colors and shapes work together, etc., etc. It's these types of decisions and the many, many proofs that accompany them that make my prints take so long to complete. I used to take forever to complete large abstract painting. Now I seem to be doing the same with prints. Even when I try to be quick, as with the Great-crested Flycatcher shown in an earlier post it seems nearly impossible!!

A few days after we returned from Cape May 'The Natural Eye', the annual exhibit of the Society of Wildlife Artists opened in London, UK. I'm happy to say that all three of my prints were accepted for the show, though sadly enough none of them sold. A review of that show on the Making A Mark blog is here. Though we couldn't see that show in person this year the many photographs available online show what an exhilarating show it was once again. Mall Galleries has an online gallery of the show and this is a link to my Purple Finch and Hairy Woodpecker print. I have links to some photos, including 80+ by Making A Mark, on my Ken Januski Artist Facebook page. One of  the many things I like about the show is that in it many artists also look like they spend a lot of  time working on their artwork. By that I don't mean the man-hours that I often see artists boasting about as though that has something to do with the quality of their art work. It doesn't, unless in inverse proportion.What I mean is that they don't go for cliches, formulas, etc., etc. So much of the work looks like a real artist created it, someone interested in creating something fresh and individually expressive!

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