Friday 30 April 2021

Wild about Washi

printing on Awagami Hosho for the first time
© Teresa Newham

It's fair to say that I'm a something of a paper nerd - a hangover from when I worked in magazine production at  the FT. I was once taken to a paper mill so large, the workers used bicycles on the factory floor; and my painting was transformed when I saw a watercolour demo on Arches 640 gsm  - a paper so thick it doesn't need stretching.

the inside wrapper from the sample pack of
Awagami editioning papers

Last summer I bought a sample pack of washi editioning papers made by the Awagami factory in Japan to help me try out Japanese woodblock for the first time.  I enjoyed printing on the different types of washi and loved the way the samples were presented, with lots of information about each type of paper.

the poster for AIMPE 2021
from the Awagami Factory

Recently I discovered that Awagami hold an annual mini print exhibition, open to printmakers across the world. All the work is exhibited, and there are prizes. The first 500 artists to register receive a sample pack containing a variety of fine art and inkjet washi papers. I couldn't resist, and soon received mine . . .

confirmation of my registration
© Teresa Newham

Entries can be on any washi, but it seems polite to use Awagami's, so I'll be making my two linocut entries on their 80 gsm Hosho. It takes the ink really well. I'm also following Awagami on Instagram - it's interesting to see the paper making process and the other types of paper the factory produces, as well as some amazing prints.

the registration confirmation pack included fine art washi papers . . . 
© Teresa Newham

I've learnt so much already about washi and how it's made. The mini-print exhibition  aims to encourage more printmakers to use washi worldwide, to help keep this great papermaking tradition alive. As for me, I just love the idea of having work on show in Japan . . . arigatou-gozaimasu, Awagami !

. . . including Kinwashi - almost too beautiful to use!
© Teresa Newham

Thursday 15 April 2021



March I
watercolour, salt & metallic printing ink
Teresa Newham

As regular readers of this blog will know, I have a great artistic relationship with my neighbours' flowering cherry tree.  The source of much inspiration over the years, it has been the subject of paintings (Flowering Cherry, Cherry Blossom) and photos, as well as making the ideal perch for gangs of goldfinches and great tits.

a sketch made on my iPad
© Teresa Newham

Last August, all its leaves fell off; we feared it had died. So you can imagine my joy when I noticed signs of life in mid March, around a month later than last year.  One evening I was praying the Rosary while a blackbird sang to the dusk in its branches; I gave thanks, recalling that I'd sprinkled some Lourdes water on the tree last October. 

laying down initial washes with salt
© Teresa Newham

I had planned to do some printmaking in the run up to Easter; it never materialised.  The tree, by now flowering more splendidly than ever, had become an obsession. When I found myself making a little sketch of cherry blossom on my iPad one evening, I knew I had to get it out of my system - and there was only one way to do that . . .

flowers and foliage
© Teresa Newham

I began with some loose washes of Permanent Alizarin Crimson and Permanent Sap Green, with plenty of salt sprinkled over them while wet. Once these had dried, I used the shapes made by the salt to show me where the flowers should go, then painted in some branches with same colours, this time mixed together.

adding the background
© Teresa Newham

I used Cobalt Blue for the background and enhanced the centres of some of the flowers before picking out the stamens with titanium white and adding final touches with metallic copper printing ink.  The cherry blossom is fading now and the leaves are taking over, but that's OK - the tree is out of my system for another year!

March II
watercolour, salt & metallic printing ink
Teresa Newham