Monday, 25 October 2010

Sarah Brayer - Washi paper printmaking artist

Washi / Japanese paper

Literally warmer to the touch than Western papers made of woodpulp, washi feels soft and creates a feeling of warmth in the viewer. Its tactile qualities make it wonderful for invitations and books.

Since the fibres are left long and pounded and stretched rather than chopped, washi has a deceptive strength. Pure-fibred washi can even be sewn and was used for armour and kimono-lining in earlier times.

The length of the fibres and the nature of the raw materials ensure that washi is highly workable when wet. Thus it is excellent for papier maché, and etching in which the paper must be soaked. These long fibres produce a luxurious deckle edge, the rough edge which marks a handmade paper.

Soft translucency.
Kozo and mitsumata are naturally translucent fibres, a quality specific to paper from the East. As such, it is used regularly for the transmission of light.

The nature of the fibres creates a ready absorption of inks and dyes. Papers that are "pure fibred" and dyed will result in much denser and more vibrant colour when fabric or watercolour dyes are applied.

Since the fibres position themselves at random, there is no real grain to washi. This gives the paper a resistance to creasing, wrinkling and tearing - and means it can be used more like cloth, for covering books, or boxes etc.

Washi weighs much less than other papers of equal thickness. As a paper for books, it can create texts of apparent weightlessness.

Low acidity.
Traditionally-made Japanese papers are truly acid-free if they are unbleached and unsized. Examples of printed papers exist in perfect condition in Japan from 1000 years ago. Today, papers from the village of Kurotani are among the finest archival papers.

For centuries, colourful designs applied by woodblock or handcut stencils have created vividly characteristic papers, for decorative use. Recently, silkscreened chiyogami (small repeated-patterned paper) is available in an unbelievable range and widely used by craftspeople. Although made by machine, the quality available is about 70% kozo and comes in hundreds of patterns.


The special absorbency, strength and texture of washi results in unique images. Traditional Japanese printing was done by woodblock, but washi is also effectively used for wood engraving, linoblock, or letterpress techniques. It responds well to embossing, and can be used effectively for multi-colour lithographs and chine-collé (etching). Rembrandt often used Japanese paper for his fine etchings, David Milne painted on gampi tissue, and Canadian Inuit have for some years used washi to elicit the best results in their stone and stencil prints.

The broad range of textures, colours and patterns of the paper, and its wet strength, make washi a highly appropriate material for collage. Chiri papers, with their bark fragments and chiyogami are favourites for collage though all washi is suitable. In recent years, artists often paint watercolour over richly collaged "canvases."

Washi has been used traditionally in screens and lamps and more recently in shutters and blinds to utilize its translucency. Mino, 'silk', seikaiha and unryu are commonly used. After being moistened, washi will shrink slightly when it dries, thereby tightening it more securely on a frame

Washi's strength and flexibility make it excellent for book covers and end papers or for book sleeves and boxes. Its wet strength makes it ideal repair tissue. Kyoseishi, ungei heavy, 'silk', chiri and chiyogami are among those strong enough for book covers. Usumino and Kurotani #16 make especially strong repair tissue, but tengu, mino, and yame are also suitable.

Sumi-e and Shodo
Japanese printing and brush-writing using sumi, a natural carbon-based ink, are at their best on washi. Ise, kai, mino and all Kurotani papers are a few particular favourites for this use. For contemporary examples of art made with Japanese papers, please enjoy our online "inspiration gallery."

Many traditional uses of the paper have endured: origami, kites, doll and umbrella-making and unparalleled packaging. Today, its uses are limitless: paper jewellery; to cover mats in framing; used as a background for photography and to develop photographs on; to cover walls and furniture; to produce memorable wedding invitations and for a host of graphic design and public relations promotions.

As time goes on, modern technology replaces much of the traditional process. Still there are those papermakers left who will not compromise. According to the Japanese,

"Things of excellence shall not die."

Bryan nash gill's woodcut prints

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Stretching and priming a canvas

Scumble and acrylic on board


THE RED OBJECT - pair of gloves


ONE OF THE WHITE OBJECTS - scrumpled up paper

The paper eye

Large scale drawingness

This sheet of paper featured in these photos measures 6 x 4 foot. Nice to work on. Sprayed acrylic paint and indian ink on the paper and experimented with mark-making.

Image printing from Epson printer onto sheet metal


Submission IV, oil on linen, 86.5x92cm

John Granville Coldoys Keane (born 12 September 1954) is a British artist, whose paintings have contemporary political and social themes.

Oil Interference Patterns no 1 inkjet transfer on jute, 35x35cm

Oil Interference Patterns no 4 inkjet transfer on jute, 35x35cm


"Hidden Identity," 2009, oil on linen, 16 x 12"

In “Hidden Identity,” Lasker suggests that the act of viewing art functions as a metaphor for a kind of metaphysical puzzle solving. In this painting the artist composes another body of systematically stroked black lines, this time parallel to one another and positioned in obliquely angled groups. A rough weaving of boldly painted blue, red and yellow planks and a small, roughly cone shaped blob of pink paint sprout from the bottom of the image. A doodle suggesting curly black hair and another grid form of unbalanced cross-hatched lines extend and totter from the painting’s top, the latter pair of images suggesting both the painting’s entrance portal and its gatekeeper. Yet far from threatening, this friendly maze-like topography invites the gaze gently into its space, as if one were calmly looking out of a window. It says that only by redirecting the psyche’s energy inward can viewers begin to clarify and discover not this painting’s identity but their own.

Studies for Paintings 1986 - 2006
In the mid-eighties there was a subtle change as Lasker began to work from small sketches or doodles. Each painting is now preceded by several studies. It is not just a matter of scaling up initial doodles: they are scaled up, more or less, but details or colors may be changed.

Lasker’s palette of fluorescent blues, oranges and pinks gives the work a contemporary nu-rave edginess. A sensual use of paint is contrasted with graphic scribbles. The drama and geometry of these maquettes is achieved with various combinations of oil, pen, ink and ballpoint pen on paper. Each study is expertly contained within a small-scale format of approximately 13 by 17 cm. At first the doodle-like quality of the work has an air of Abstract Expressionism, yet closer inspection reveals a carefully premeditated balance and constraint typical of Lasker’s body of work.

'Untitled' 1989 - 6 3/4 x 5 in. / 17.2 x 12.7 cm
Oil and ballpoint pen on paper

'Untitled' 1987 - 5 x 6 3/4 in. / 12.7 x 17.2 cm
Oil on paper

Jonathan Lasker was born in 1948 in Jersey City, New Jersey. He attended the School of Visual Arts in New York and Calarts in Valencia, California in the late 1970’s. Lasker has exhibited internationally since the early 1980’s. A major retrospective of his work was held at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid, Spain in 2003


Fiona Rae
RA in her studio with her painting ‘Life is full of pleasant gifts and surprises, you know,' 2007

According to the Royal Academy of Arts, Rae’s paintings contrast flat areas of color with sign-making. This includes elements of text and pixilation. Throughout the 1990s her work became more structured and began to concentrate on particular motifs.

According to Rae, in an interview in The Observer from September 20th 2009:

What I love about painting is that it embodies a series of thought and feeling processes. It’s all there on the canvas as a record. I can put something on the canvas, consider it, adjust it, remove it, replace it, add to it, conceal it, reveal it, destroy it and repair it. I can be in a good mood, a bad mood, a cheerful mood or a destructive mood – it’s all useful.

I tend to improvise what I do on the canvas. I have a vague roadmap in mind, but usually have to abandon it pretty sharpish. I use canvas on wooden stretchers, prepared with a couple of coats of acrylic primer. I then paint the canvas a flat colour in acrylic paint. Acrylic is a good base for oil colours. It provides an even, unabsorbent surface, whereas oils absorb other oils at different rates and you can end up with a dry, patchy or cracked surface.

We go in search of our Dream…. 2007 Oil and acrylic on canvas, h: 84 x w: 69 in
Swamp, 1998 Acrylic and oil on canvas, 96.1 x 84.1 in.

Scottish Mental Health festival - painting in Paisley



On 8' x 4' canvas using acrylics, fine line pens, and correction wand pen.