December 9, 2014

Weather Effects

        It’s a grey day here, not a black and white one.  Fog and drizzle aren’t natural subjects for single color relief block prints, but I’ve collected a few lovely woodcuts that use various techniques to depict interesting weather effects.  We’ll start with a few that use multiple colors of ink to produce gradations of grey.  Shiro Kasamatsu’s lovely woodblock in traditional Japanese style was printed multiple times with multiple colors, giving us a gleam of clouded sky reflected in the water, and dark, wet trees fading into a dark, wet background.  Zha Sai’s drizzle is a reduction print with at least three colors of ink.  It looks to me like willow branches, but it could also be streaks of water down a windshield, or perhaps something else.  It’s focussed so closely on the streaming details that it’s almost become abstract.
        Dan Miller’s woodblock uses a background block of grey-inked woodgrain to represent fog behind the black silhouettes of a block of trees.  Even the black block, though, is printed with the ink sparse enough that the woodgrain shows clearly, making the ground misty, too.  He appears to have used a bit of Japanese technique in inking the black block, painting some areas deliberately darker.
        If you want to see weather in plain black and white block prints, you aren’t going to get today’s steady grey rain.  No, you’re going to get something more dramatic.  Here are two wood block prints with weather that really gets your attention.  Tadeusz Stefan Zielinski’s storm washes over the landscape in cloudbursts punctuated by the luminous light that strikes down between the thunderheads.  Emma Schlangenhausen’s weather is perhaps the most dramatic of all, with her jagged clouds, streaks of rain like lightning, and sweep of the foreground.
        Today is  good day to stay indoors, here, and this is good art to stay indoors with!

[Pictures: Autumn Drizzle at Kokedera Temple, woodblock print by Shiro Kasamatsu, 1960 (Image from Castle Fine Arts);
Drizzle, reduction woodcut by Zha Sai, 2007 (Image from Davidson Galleries);
Trees and Fog, Maine, woodcut by Dan Miller (Image from live auctioneers);
House and Storm, wood engraving by Taeusz Stefan Zielinski, 1925 (Image from The Annex Galleries);
Noordwyk, woodcut by Emma Schlangenhausen, c 1917 (Image from The Annex Galleries).]

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