I’ve been taking a combination of figure drawing and portrait classes for the past four years from Ken Minami at the Evanston Art Center. They are wonderful classes. Ken teaches us to do monochrome work to get the proportions and form correct and then moves us along to colored media such as pastel or acrylic or ‘water based’ oil paints. One monochrome medium he has us use is conte crayon but only the darkest and the lightest colors and then we rub them together to get form. It’s quite exciting to see this happen, and it works in a short time.
I’ve tried to apply what I learn in these classes to making Moku Hanga and i have learned a lot about getting the drawing and proportions right and have started to learn about how to achieve colors, but form has been difficult because it seems that you need many blocks to achieve the appearance of a gradient if you’re not able to use bokashi. Tiny bokashis on figures don’t work.
It is often difficult for me to achieve the colors I’d like when printing so I asked Ken if it would be OK to bring watecolors to class to learn about the colors. Ken agreed and then told me that the key in watercolors is to have a great drawing to start with and that you can’t really change the proportions, etc of the drawing after you’ve started. So, I used a dark pencil to draw in the outlines, location of the features, folds in the clothing, etc.You can see the pencil lines under the kimono and they resemble key block lines to me. You can also see that the flat surfaces like the bench and the suitcase resemble what one might see in a Moku Hanga. The hair, too, looks like a two block printing in a woodcut.
Below is a photo of the model that I drew.
It seems to me that this method of arriving at the plan for a woodblock print might be useful.