Emil Orlik The Japanese Painter Kano Tomonobu
|This step is
obviously done by the artist himself. He paints on a very thin and
Bertha Lum did this way at the beginning. After few years (around 1916) she used photographs : she painted oil paintings or watercolors and took photo. The photo was then glued or printed directly on the block of wood. That is why we can find sometimes original paintings in auction. The original is usually bigger than the woodblock print. (See the comparison's page)
Bertha painted more landscape than portraits. She committed nevertheless several portraits. These portraits were based on photographs. The portraits were photorealistic (for example the portrait of Her Majesty T'zu Hsi and Princess Der Ling) and most probably painted upon a photograph. The portraits of Rudolph Valentino or Vilma Banky are without doubt painted upon photographs.
She also used photos to create woodblocks prints : in1923 Lung Fu Sou, Chinese Curio Market, and Dragon Well in 1924.
When one looks at the first version of Lung Fu Sou, in 1923, one is surprised of this very realistic picture : usually a woodblock print is a simplification, with big solid colour. This picture is not a woodblock print : it is an opaque watercolor over a photo. The photorealistic treatment of this picture disappears in the two other versions of Lung Fu Sou, in 1924.
She also used a photograph to create her drawing of Jizo, in God Goblins and Ghosts.
|Here is now an exceptional picture to illustrate this
This photograph : the child is probably Bertha's eldest daughter Catherine.
As guessed above, Bertha painted upon photos to create her design.
Bertha Lum's Label
else frequently does this step: an engraver. Bertha Lum had learned
this craft and therefore cut her own blocks at the beginning of her
career. (see the Biography)
But when she came back to Japan in 1910 she hired carvers to carve her
To cut the blocks, the artist has to sacrifice his painting: it is put face down and glued on a wooden block (cherry wood is the best). Then the engraver will start working the wood using specific tools that resemble scalpels.
Peter Lum's carving tools
The craftsman will cut the wood until nothing remains except for the outlines, which are now in relief. This woodblock is called "keyblock".
Kitagawa Utamaro, Artist, Block Carver, Applying Sizing, from the series "The Cultivation of Brocade Prints, A Famous Product of Edo (Edo meibutsu nishiki-e kosaku) (Eshi, hangashi, dosa-biki)"
Keyblock of Sisters 1907 and detail (comparison keyblock/print)
Keyblock of Ming Huang and Yang Kuei Fei 1924
The first Kento
<< The second Kento (Hikitsuke mark)
Emil Orlik : Japanese Printer
|The third craftsman is the printer, and he is in charge
of the last step: making the colour prints.
The printer will place a mixture of pigments, water and rice glue on the woodblock. He spreads it evenly with a brush.
He then places a sheet of paper, which will become the wood block print, onto the wood block. He makes sure the sheet is placed properly on the block thanks to the two kento.
He will rub the sheet of paper with a stamp wrapped in bamboo leaves (the baren ); thus the paper will take up the colour properly.
Peter Lum's Baren
The famous « Raised lines »
Elephant Procession at Angkor Wat ; 1930 ; detail.
Private collection VA
Ming Huang and Yang Kuei Fei
25,1x37,6 cm and « flat »
Ming Huang and Yang Kuei Fei
47,6x69,2 cm and in « raised lines »
|©2004-2011 bertha-lum.org||Homepage Gallery |