Project report Mauri Mendes

Master stage MOD000233 TRI3-1 F01CAM
SID 1731700

1- Introduction: introspection and searching for authenticity and identity
2- Woodcut: research and experiments
3- Project 1 Mama is a wildebeest
4- Project 2 Bugs that bite
5- Conclusion
6- Bibliography

My original proposal was related to researching my relationship with my mother and how to express the care, love and compassion visually while at the same time to look for an appropriate visual language to express the other feelings that came with my childhood, such as roughness of the environment, deep emotional connections and radical changes. As the semester progressed, I realised this research on ways to express the connection with my mother had a broader meaning to me: it was about the concept of mother in general but also a sort of introspective search for roots and cultural identity, meaning, purpose, joy of working with visual arts at all and finding a technique which suits my personality and feelings as an artist.

2- Woodcut: research and experiments

I love working with tools and wood so choosing woodcut seemed like the sensible choice for me, but I had to think of ways to speed up the process, bearing in mind that making children’s books professionally usually require collaboration and possibly many changes to the artwork, as well as tight deadlines. Traditional western and traditional Japanese, techniques, which are very different, do have in common that the carving process is an arduous task which can take weeks to make just one image. To find a solution for that, I used mini power tools: originally meant for engraving of hard surfaces and polishing objects, they worked perfectly for me for the bigger cuts and also for the fine details.

Woodcut techniques traditionally use hard wood types which are very expensive, but serve the purpose of being durable and therefore allowing the works to be reproduced many times. With that in mind, the knowledge that for children’s books I will only need to produce the one image which then is reproduced by the publishers, I have experimented with all types of wood, salvaged wood, bed frames, windows, pieces of scrap wood from the streets. Finally decided to go for hard plywood, simply because it’s cheap, environment friendly, widely available and comes in big sizes. The wood board I worked on for the projects were 58 cm x 30 cm.

As my main objective for this Master Stage was to find my own visual language and a working technique which will be ideal for me in the long term, I invested a lot of time and effort in collecting different types of wood, different mini power tools and I even built my own sound proof room.

About the printing, I tried mainly two types of techniques:
The Japanese technique using rice paste mixed with gouache, applying the mix to the board with a large (shoe) brush. It gives the work more transparency and interaction between the layers, but I found that I needed something more rough, less delicate for the first project Mama is a Wildebeest.
Modern western Rollers: I chose to use water based block print ink and rollers on Japanese rice paper to achieve a rougher textured effect.

3- Project 1 Mama is a wildebeest

Mama is a wildebeest started as a collection of memories of the interactions between me an my mother but it evolved into a more general idea of mother – child interaction where protection and care are the main focus. I wanted to express a sort of high sensitivity from the child, how the mother helps the child to create coping mechanisms to deal with external challenges. At the same time I wanted the project to avoid being moralistic or patronising, I chose a poetic, more indirect way of expressing the value of this relationship, to let the situations be formed in the mind of the reader, to allow the reader to make his/her own associations.

4- Project 2 Bugs that bite

This project started with just one image which I made as a woodcut experiment as a light, fun alternative to storytelling because I was being confronted with too many memories of interactions and situations from my childhood while working on the Mama is a wildebeest project, not all of them happy memories.

The main idea evolved into a way of teaching children about characteristics of bugs, while entertaining them with humorous situations which would be familiar to them. In my native Brazil, the weather is always hot and there are always lots of bugs all around, I grew up observing ant colonies and caterpillars turning into butterflies. I wrote this story specifically with my daughter in mind, when she grows a bit older, to introduce her to those exquisite animals I was familiar with when I was a child and to teach her something about the natural world – while having a laugh.

5- Conclusion

This master module for me was a lot more about finding the working process which suits me and and interesting visual language with less control. I love to be surprised by the results of printmaking and I am very happy to have been able to adapt traditional woodcut techniques to become a faster and pleasurable activity for me, with increasingly more interesting results as I came to know the tools and materials better. I think I have finally found myself in the position of producing fast results which I am happy about, while enjoying the process. The process I have now allows me a lot of freedom to get rid of repetitive technical aspects of woodcut printmaking -such as hand carving and transfer methods and allows me to draw directly into the wood or create a feeling of spontaneity and playfulness with quicker lines and directional cuts in the wood. Moving forward with my professional career as an illustrator I think this is the path I will be taking.

6- Bibliography

Walker, G. 2005. The woodcut artist’s handbook : techniques and tools for relief printmaking. London: Firefly books.

Chamberlein, W. 1978. The Thames and Hudson manual of woodcut printmaking and related techniques. London: Thames and Hudson.

Klein, A.H. 1963. Graphic worlds of Peter Bruegel the Elder : reproducing 64 engravings and woodcut after designs by Peter Bruegel the Elder. New York: Dover.

Natter, G.T & Hollein, M., 2016. Art for all : the colour woodcut in Vienna around 1900. Köln: Taschen.

Fletcher, F.M., 1916. Wood-block printing : a description of the craft of woodcutting & colourprinting based on the Japanese practice. London: John Hogg.

National Geographic Kids
https://kids.nationalgeographic.com/search?q=insects&location=srp&type=manual

Smithsonian Magazine
https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/worlds-most-interesting-insects-180974748/

Live Science Website
https://www.livescience.com/topics/insect