Bird Print History

 

Published by the Reader Collection, Ontario, Canada, 2014 †ISBN 978-0-9937035-1-5

Reader Collection > Guides > History of Japanese Art: Bird Prints

 

Chapter 4 Ė Gendai Bird Prints

 

Picture Format

 

Gendai bird printmakers were part of an international community of printmakers who used a print format which was very different from that used by shin hanga and ukiyo-e printmakers. The strongly vertical pillar print format was not used for gendai bird prints and the second most vertical format (print 87) with a height 2-3 times its width was also used less by gendai (26%) artists than by ukiyo-e (38%) and shin hanga (39%) artists. Most (36%) vertically-oriented gendai bird prints had a height only 1-1.5 times the width (prints 88, 89). In addition, more gendai bird prints (print 90) were oriented horizontally (36%) than either ukiyo-e (14%) or shin hanga (20%) bird prints.

 

 

 

 

 

87†† Scops owl (Otus sp.) by Masasuke Chiba, 300 mm x 600 mm, screenprint

 

 

88†† Crested ibis (Nipponia nippon) by Hideaki Tatehori, 265 mm x 365 mm, woodblock print entitled crested ibis taking off

 

 

89†† Scops owl (Otus sp.) by Kan Kozaki, 220 mm x 320 mm, woodblock print; the letters A.P. mean artistís proof.

 

 

90†† Waterfowl (Family Anatidae) by Reika Iwami, 510 mm x 345 mm, woodblock print entitled water fantasy-E

 

The position and types of text included on a gendai print were also different. First, text was written horizontally in the lower print border (prints 87-90) instead of vertically in the side borders or in the picture area. Second, the artistís name was written most often (93%a) in the roman alphabet (prints 87, 89, 90) instead of the Japanese syllabary (print 88). Third, prints were usually (80%) given a title which was written in either the Japanese (70%) syllabary (prints 88, 90) or the Roman (10%) alphabet. Fourth, the year in which a print was made appeared on about half (51%) of the prints (print 90). Fifth, two additional numbers, separated by a diagonal line, appeared on most (85%) prints (prints 87, 88, 90). The number below the diagonal line was the total number of copies made of the printb and the number above the diagonal was the number assigned to a particular copy of the print.

The publisherís logo which appeared on some shin hanga and ukiyo-e prints was absent from gendai prints because the latter were published by the artistc. Very few gendai artists (2%) added a poem to their prints (print 89). Finally, more gendai bird prints had a white border (99%) than either ukiyo-e (7%) or shin hanga (60%) bird prints. These changes reflected the ever increasing influence of western art practices on Japanese bird printmakers.†††††

 

a†† Percentages are based a sample of 2410 gendai bird prints by 743 artists.Their names, signatures and examples of their work are included in Appendix 3a and Appendix 3b.
b†† Prints with a fixed number of copies are often called limited-edition prints.
c†† The production of ukiyo-e and shin hanga prints involved four people; first the artist who designed the print, second the person who carved the artistís design onto a block of wood, third the person who added ink to the block and printed the design on paper, and fourth the publisher who financed print production and marketed finished prints. Gendai artists took control of all steps in the printmaking process to maximize the opportunity for self-expression and creativity at each step.†††

 

 

Picture Composition

The composition of a gendai bird print tended to be simpler and (or) less realistic than that of either a shin hanga or ukiyo-e bird print. This tendency likely reflected the influence of western abstract and (or) surrealistic art on gendai artists. Birds were unaccompanied in more gendai bird prints (14%) than either shin hanga (4%) or ukiyo-e (0.5%) bird prints. In print 91 the picture area was filled by a single, abstract owl and in print 92 by multiple birds with simplified shapes.†††

 

 

91†† Unidentified owl (Family Strigidae) by Minoru Yokota, 190 mm x 250 mm, intaglio print

 

 

92†† Cormorant (Phalacrocorax sp.) and crane (Grus sp.) by Yō Sugano, 180 mm x 225 mm, intaglio print entitled ancient birds

 

 

Plants appeared in far fewer gendai bird prints (51%) than in either shin hanga (86%) or ukiyo-e (88%) bird prints. The decline in the number of flower-and-bird pictures is particularly striking (i.e., 18% of gendai prints versus 53% of shin hanga prints and 66% of ukiyo-e prints). Even when flowers were included in a gendai bird print they were often relegated to the background as in print 93. For most gendai artists, traditional Chinese and Japanese bird-and-flower art in which flowers and birds were equally important was no longer an influence.

†††† ††

93†† Long-tailed tit (Aegithalos caudatus) by Tadashi Ikai, 440 mm x 300 mm, intaglio print entitled flower field

 

 

 

Gendai artists also simplified plant shape. For example, only the flower petals of plants were shown in print 93 and the tall grasses in print 94 had no leaves.†

 

94†† Common snipe (Gallinago gallinago) by Sadao Satō, 410 mm x 340 mm, screenprint entitled a snipe

 

 

Inanimate objects such as water and rock also appeared in fewer gendai bird prints (18%) than in either shin hanga (27%) or ukiyo-e (28%) bird prints. When they were included their depiction could be more surrealistic than true-to-life. In print 95 the true effect of reflected light on the color of water was exaggerated by using shades of color that ranged from white to dark blue. In print 96 a landscape of conical shapes was created that has no earthly equivalent and is more likely to be seen when we have our eyes closed (i.e., dreaming).††

 

95†† Little egret (Egretta garzetta) by Teruhiko Kondo, 400 mm x 305 mm, intaglio print entitled little egret

 

 

 

96†† Crane (Grus sp.) by Yūji Watanabe, 715 mm x 575 mm, woodblock print entitled flying (star)

 

Precipitation appeared much less often in gendai bird prints (3%) than in either shin hanga (23%) or ukiyo-e (17%) bird prints. Its infrequent appearance is surprising because some of the most visually stunning gendai bird prints are those in which it is raining or snowing. In print 97 rain helped to create the illusion of three-dimensional space in a two-dimensional picture. Both the rain and bird in the foreground are in focus while mountains in the background are fuzzy as if being partly hidden by the rain. In print 98 the shapes of all objects are indistinct, as we would see them when our vision was being hampered by falling snow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

97†† Greater-spotted woodpecker (Dendrocopos major) by Hirokazu Fukuda, 325 mm x 250 mm, woodblock print entitled gentle rain

 

 

 

98†† Penguin (Family Spheniscidae) by Tōshi Yoshida, 640 mm x 305 mm, woodblock print entitled snowing

 

 

The sun and moon appeared more often but were drawn less realistically in gendai bird prints (17%) than in either shin hanga (7%) or ukiyo-e (8%) bird prints. In gendai prints the sun was often multicolored (print 99) instead of its true red or yellow and the size of both the sun (print 101) and moon (print 100) were exaggerated. Gendai artists were the first to include stars (print 100) in bird prints.††

 

99†† Domestic fowl (Gallus gallus) by Nobuyoshi Koga, 140 mm x 200 mm, screenprint entitled greeting of love

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

100†† Scops owl (Otus sp.) by Makiko Hattori, 190 mm x 240 mm, intaglio print entitled moonlight owl

 

 

†††† Man-made objects accompanied birds in about the same percentage of gendai (7%), shin hanga (5%) and ukiyo-e (5%) bird prints. However, the types of objects differed. Modern inventions such as the power transmission tower (print 101) only appeared in gendai prints. The scene in print 101 was relatively realistic compared to others in gendai prints that contained man-made objects. For example, in print 102 exotic South American birds were paired with a globe and the concorde jet whose nose cone included a sharp pencil. In print 103 a collage of unrelated objects appeared behind a pair of soaring seabirds. The novelty of these surreal scenes makes them entertaining but also challenging to understand fully.

 

 

 

 

101†† Green pheasant (Phasianus versicolor) by Fumiaki Mutō, 420 mm x 570 mm, digital print entitled pine and green pheasant

 

 

 

102†† Four unidentified species of South American birds by Gō Yayanagi, 450 mm x 455 mm, screenprint

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

103 Short-tailed albatross (Phoebastria albatrus) by Kōsuke Kimura, 400 mm x 440 mm, lithograph entitled flight - H

 

 

†††† Birds were paired with humans in more gendai bird prints (6%) than in either shin hanga (0.1%) or ukiyo-e (3%) bird prints. This pairing took one of three forms. In the most popular form either a single bird or more than one bird sat on the head of a human, usually a young girl as in print 104. Less frequently humans and birds stood side by side (print 105). Finally, in rare cases a bird was shown impersonating a human as in print 106. None of the birds depicted in these prints were symbolically associated with humans in Japan so presumably gendai artists were simply being creative. The diverse group of bird species shown in print 104 would never be found together, even in the absence of humans. It is also unlikely that the mountain climber shown in print 105 could get that close to the wary rock ptarmigan. To make the connection between the dodo bird and Sherlock Holmes in print 106 requires help from the artist.

 

 

104†† Multiple species of unidentified birds by Shiho Murakami, 100 mm x 150 mm, intaglio print

 

 

 

105†† Rock ptarmigan (Lagopus muta) by Umetarō Azechi, 125 mm x 110 mm, woodblock print††

 

 

106†† Dodo bird (Raphus cucullatus) by Hideshi Yoshida, 150 mm x 150 mm, wood engraved print entitled Sherlock Dodo

 

 

Bird Species Chosen for Depiction

Gendai artists chose a wide rangea of bird species to depict. Their most popular choices, shown below, belonged to the following five bird families: (1) owls (34%b), (2) geese and swans (23%), (3) fowl (22%), (4) cranes (16%) and (5) doves (13%). Three of these families (i.e., geese and swans, fowl, cranes) were also among the top five families chosen by both shin hanga and ukiyo-e artists. The other two families (i.e., owls and doves) replaced sparrows and egrets plus herons chosen by shin hanga artists and sparrows and hawks plus falcons chosen by ukiyo-e artists. The extreme popularity of owls with gendai artists is very surprising for two reasons. First, owls are not well known by most people because they are active at night instead of during the day when they hide from view. Second, until recently owls have had a negative symbolic association (i.e., with ingratitudec). Today in Japan owls are associated with good luckd and protection from hardship which may explain why they now appear more often in Japanese art. The popularity of doves is less surprising. They are common in both urban and suburban settings throughout Japan and they have a positive rather than negative symbolic association (i.e., messenger of the peace god in Japanese mythology).†

a†† 162 species from 66 families were depicted in the 2410 gendai bird prints examined.
b†† percentage of gendai artists whose chose a bird from a particular family
c†† The association of owls with ingratitude is based on the false far-eastern belief that young owls will kill and eat their parents.
d††† Since the 1950s owls have been considered to be symbols of good luck and protection from hardship. These associations are based on similarities between a Japanese name for owls (i.e., fukurō) and the words for luck (fuku) and no (fu) hardship (kurō).

 

 

(1) Owls (Strigidae)

Scops owls (print 107) and the Ural owl (print 108) were depicted most often. Both are native to Japan. Scops owls are found in a wide range of habitats, including urban parks and gardens, while the Ural owl is more common in rural woodland.

 

 

107†† Scops owl (Otus sp.) by Hiroko Yamada, 300 mm x 240 mm, intaglio print entitled hunting

 

 

108†† Ural owl (Strix uralensis) by Takashi Hirose, 150 mm x 200 mm, intaglio print entitled Ural owl

 

 

(2) Geese and Swans (Anatidae)

Captive swans, imported originally from Europe (print 109), and domestic geese (print 110) were depicted most often by gendai artists. The wild geese and ducks depicted so often in both shin hanga and ukiyo-e bird prints were comparatively rare in gendai bird prints. This substitution of tame waterfowl for their wild counterparts in gendai prints suggests that gendai artists were more familiar with waterfowl found in man-made habitats. Understandably, they had fewer opportunities to view wild birds than their predecessors due to the continuing process of habitat conversion from wild to man-made.

 

 

109†† Mute swan (Cygnus olor) by Ray Morimura, 140 mm x 160 mm, woodblock print entitled swan

 

 

 

110†† Domestic goose (Anser cygnoides) by Kotarō Yoshioka, 245 mm x 275 mm, screenprint entitled family

 

 

 

(3) Fowl (Phasianidae)

 

Captive peafowl (print 111) and domestic fowl (print 112a) appeared often in gendai bird prints. Presumably the colorful plumage of these birds made them popular choices, just as they had been for shin hanga and ukiyo-e artists. The latter also depicted colorful, wild pheasants but gendai artists rarely drew these pheasants. Perhaps gendai artists were simply less familiar with wild pheasants whose numbers continue to decline due to the combined effects of habitat conversion for human use and huntingb.††††††††

 

a†† To enhance the illusion of a domestic fowl running rapidly the artist exaggerated the length of its neck and body. It is the same species drawn more accurately in print 81.

b†† Brazil (1991)

 

 

 

111†† Indian peafowl (Pavo cristatus) by Shirō Kasamatsu, 275 mm x 405 mm, woodblock print

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

112†† Domestic fowl (Gallus gallus) by Kaoru Kawano, 430 mm x 285 mm, woodblock prints

 

 

(4) Cranes (Gruidae)

The red-crowned crane continued to be a popular choice for bird prints, appearing in more than one hundred and fifty prints made by gendai artists. Cranes are particularly impressive with their wings fully extended in flight, as shown in print 113.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

113 Red-crowned crane (Grus japonensis) by Takeo Honma, 380 mm x 270 mm, screenprint entitled dawn

 

 

(5) Doves (Columbidae)

The dovea was another domesticated bird species favored by gendai artists. Introduced to Japan from Europe, it comes in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors thanks to selective breeding by humans. The pure white form shown in print 114 is particularly attractive and was chosen most often by gendai artists.†

a†† Also called pigeon. There is no clear difference between birds called doves versus pigeons.††

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

114†† Dove (Columba livia) by Kōichi Sakamoto, 350 mm x 270 mm, intaglio print entitled the two standing

 

 

†††† About a third (38%) of the species chosen by gendai artists did not appear in either shin hanga or ukiyo-e bird prints. Gendai artists were likely familiara with more foreign birds which accounted for almost half (41%) of the species unique to gendai bird prints. Prints 115 and 116 show two of these unique foreign birdsb.† An artistís personal preferences likely affected his or her choice of species and because the number of gendai artists who made bird prints was far greater than the number of shin hanga or ukiyo-e bird artists. Gendai artists were bound to select some new native species as wellc.

a†† This familiarity most likely came from direct experience (e.g. international travel) or from new forms of information technology not available to either shin hanga or ukiyo-e artists (e.g. television, internet).

b†† Prints 98, 106, 159 and 212 show additional examples of foreign birds unique to gendai bird prints.

c†† Some examples of native species unique to gendai bird prints are shown on prints† 103, 111, 138, 166, 195 and 196

 

 

115†† Hermit hummingbird (Phaethornis sp.) by Shigeki Kuroda, 180 mm x 215 mm, intaglio print entitled hummingbird and white flowers

 

 

 

116†† Greater flamingo (Phoenicopteros ruber) by Kazuhiko Sanmonji, 540 mm x 365 mm, woodblock print entitled blueshore

 

 

Accuracy of Depiction

The level of accuracy used by gendai artists to draw birds ranged from (1) inaccurate (46%) to (2) semi-accurate (35%) or (3) accurate (19%).† Each of these three levels of accuracy is considered, in turn, below.

 

(1) Inaccurate

Some gendai artists purposely simplified the shapes and (or) colors of their bird subjects to the extent that it was not possible to recognize even the bird family to which they belonged. Print 117 is one example. Other artists drew birds with shapes characteristic of particular families but used too few colors to allow the bird to be identified at the species level. For example, in print 118 the birds clearly belong to the gull family (Laridae) but they lack the bill and leg colors needed to identify the species. Presumably the goal of gendai artists who drew birds inaccurately (i.e., species not recognizable) was to be creative and express themselves in a novel way. This philosophy of art was the hallmark of modern western art whose style a number of Japanese artists adopted with vigor for bird prints after World War II. Before then Japanese bird print artists had used a style influenced by either western realistic art (i.e., shin hanga artists) or Chinese art (i.e., ukiyo-e artists). Consequently, less than 1% of the bird species in their prints are unidentifiable. †

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

117†† Unidentified bird by Takeji Asano, 400 mm x 295 mm, woodblock print entitled bird and fruit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

118†† Gull (Larus sp.) by Shigeyuki Ōhashi, 375 mm x 280 mm, screenprint entitled migration two

 

 

(2) Semi-accurate

In some gendai prints the bird species was identifiable but its shape or color was not completely true-to-life (i.e., semi-accurate). For example, in print 119 only the shape and color of the crest of the pair of domestic fowl was accurate. In print 120 the shape of the little ringed plover was accurate enough for viewers to identify it but its true colors were reduced to black and white. These two gendai bird prints are similar to ukiyo-e bird prints in which the shapes and colors of birds were also drawn only semi-accurately.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

119†† Domestic fowl (Gallus gallus) by Taeko Takabe, 270 mm x 265 mm, screenprint

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

120†† Little ringed plover (Charadrius dubius) by Gyōjin Murakami, 485 x 330 mm, woodblock print entitled shore plover

 

 

(3) Accurate

A minority of gendai artists drew birds accurately (i.e., true-to-life shape and color). These artists tended to use either intaglio or digital printmaking methodsa which allowed the fine details of a birdís external features to be shown more easily than in woodblock printing. The intaglio print 121 and digital print 122 below are excellent examples of the high level of accuracy achievable using these printmaking methods. Presumably these gendai artists sought to be creative and novel by drawing birds more accurately, instead of less accurately, than either shin hanga or ukiyo-e artists.†

a†† These methods are explained in the next section.


 

121a†† Domestic goose (Anser cygnoides) by Mikio Watanabe, 300 mm x 250 mm, intaglio print entitled goose I

 

 

 

 

 

121b†† Enlargement of the domestic goose in print 121a

 

 

 

 

122a†† Common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) by Masahiro Tabuki, 320 mm x 235 mm, digital print entitled kingfishers

 

122b†† Enlargement of the common kingfisher in print 122a

 

 

 

 

Methods of Printmaking

Five different methods of printmaking were used to produce gendai bird prints; namely, (1) woodblock (47%), (2) intaglio (26%), (3) screen and stencil (13%), (4) lithograph (10%) and (5) digital (4%). Each of these five methods is described belowa using examples of gendai bird prints.

a†† For additional information about printmaking techniques see Saff and Sacilotto† (1978).

 

 

(1) Woodblock

The Japanese method of woodblock printmaking which had been used to produce all ukiyo-e and shin hanga bird prints was also employed most often by gendai artists to make their bird prints. Typically the woodblock was a piece of wood cut longitudinally from the stem of a tree. However, some gendai artists used either wood veneer (i.e., plywood) or pieces of wood cut in cross section instead. Plywood was a modern western invention which had two advantages over longitudinally-cut woodblocks. First, it was cheaper and second, it was available in larger sizes which allowed gendai printmakers to make much larger prints than their shin hanga and ukiyo-e predecessors. For example, print 123 is more than double the size of the largest shin hanga or ukiyo-e bird print.†

 

 

123†† Whooper swan (Cygnus cygnus) by Fumio Kitaoka, 925 mm x 635 mm, woodblock print entitled swans on icefield

 

 

The woodís grain was very obvious on some pieces of plywood and gendai artists used this pronounced grain to enhance the sense of movement in prints where active birds where depicted. Print 124 is one example.

 

 

124†† Duck (Anas sp.) by Susumu Yamaguchi, 585 mm x 370 mm, woodblock print

 

 

†††† A few gendai printmakers adopted the western practice of carving designs on a cross section of wood instead of a longitudinally-cut piece of wood. The surface of a cross section was harder which allowed more prints to be produced. However, its greater strength made it more difficult to carve and special tools used by metal engravers were required for carving. In addition, the size of prints was limited because tree stem diameter (i.e., cross section) was much less than stem height (i.e., longitudinal). Wood engraved prints were typically round (i.e., cross section) instead of square (i.e., longitudinal). Print 125 is an example of a gendai, wood-engraved bird print.

 

 

125 ††Ural owl (Strix uralensis) by Kōhō Ōuchi, 180 mm x 180 mm, wood engraved print entitled blooming

 

 

(2) Intaglio

Intaglio is an Italian word meaning to cut into. In intaglio printmaking the design was cut into a piece of metal and the cuts were filled with ink. A piece of paper was then pushed into the cuts using a mechanical press to transfer the ink to paper. Cuts could be made using a metal tool or acid or both to create different artistic effects. The four types of intaglio printmaking used most often to produce gendai bird prints were mezzotint, etching, aquatint and drypoint engraving. An example of each is described below.

The Italian word mezzotint means half tone and this method was used to emphasize tonal variation in the color of the object depicted. To produce a mezzotint the entire metal plate was first roughen (i.e., cut into) with a metal tool. Then portions of the plate were smoothed to reduce the depth of cut to differing degrees. When ink was added the deepest cuts held the most ink and would print darkest. In print 126 the black background had the deepest cuts and the whitish shades of the birdís image had the shallowest cuts. If more than one color of ink was needed, as in print 127, then an additional metal plate was prepared for each color.

 

 

126†† Ural owl (Strix uralensis) by Tadashi Ikai, 195 mm x 225 mm, intaglio print entitled owl A

 

 

127†† Japanese white-eye (Zosterops japonicus) by Tadashi Ikai, 205 mm x 235 mm, intaglio print entitled Japanese white-eye C

 

 

Etching is an intaglio printing method in which acid was used to create cuts in a metal plate. First the plate was entirely coated with an acid-resistant substance. Next, areas to be cut were traced onto the plate to remove portions of the acid-resistance substance. Then the plate was dipped into an acid bath to produce the cuts. Prints 128 and 129 are examples of single-color and multi-color etchings, respectively. These prints show much less tonal variation than the mezzotints above. Greater tonal variation could be achieved if the acid-resistant substance was sprayed onto the metal plate to provide only partial coverage. The term aquatint is used instead of etching when the plate was sprayed instead of coated. In print 130 this aquatint technique was used to depict the tree leaves at the top of the print. The black lines in print 130 were drawn using drypoint engraving. In drypoint engraving a sharp needle (i.e., dry point) was used to cut the lines of the design into a metal plate. The black lines in print 131 were also produced using drypoint engraving while the areas of red, yellow and blue color were created by etching.†††††††††

 

 

 

128†† Dusky thrush (Turdus naumanni) by Takeshi Nakai, 135 mm x 115 mm, intaglio print

 

 

129†† Eurasian eagle owl (Bubo bubo) by Tomiko Matsuno, 195 mm x 195 mm, intaglio print

 

 

 

130†† Domestic goose (Anser cygnoides) by Kenji Ushiku, 315 mm x 495 mm, intaglio print entitled in the forest Y

 

 

 

 

131†† Unidentified bird by Masuo Ikeda, 285 mm x 380 mm, intaglio print entitled happy bird

(3) Screen and stencil

 

In this method of printmaking a template of the design was first made using either a screen or a stencil. The screen template was typically a piece of mesh fabric (e.g., silk, polyester), or less often a piece of porous paper, which was covered with a non-porous substance except in areas of the design. The stencil template was usually a piece of stiff paper into which holes were cut to reveal the design. To make a print the template was placed on top of a piece of paper and ink was applied. The ink only passed through areas of the screen not covered by the non-porous substance or through holes in the stencil to reproduce the design on the paper below. For multi-colored prints multiple templates were made, one for each color. For almost all gendai bird prints a screen was used instead of a stencil. Mesh screenprints (e.g., print 132) often featured strongly graded colora while color was applied more uniformly on paper screenprints (e.g., print 133). Print 134 is one of the very few gendai stencil bird prints.

 

a†† Strongly graded color was produced by placing ink at one end of the mesh screen and drawing it to the other end of the screen using a squeegee. The color became progressively lightly as the quantity of ink decreased.

 

 

 

132†† Dove (Columba sp.) by Kōzō Inoue, 120 mm x 170 mm, screenprint

 

 

133†† Indian peafowl (Pavo cristatus) by Hiroshi Kabe, 195 mm x 270 mm, screenprint entitled two

 

 

134†† Domestic fowl (Gallus gallus) by Sadao Watanabe, 225 mm x 330 mm, stencil print

 

 

(4) Lithograph

 

To make a lithograph the design was first drawn on the surface of a smooth slab of limestonea using a greasy substance that would readily absorb ink. Ink was then added and a piece of paper was placed on top of the inked surface. Finally, pressure was applied using a mechanical press to transfer the ink to paper. To make a multi-colored print this process was repeated using a different stone slab for each ink color. Gendai artists made about equal numbers of single-color lithographs (print 135) and multi-color lithographs (prints 136, 137) featuring birds.

a†† A light-weight aluminum plate was sometimes used instead of a heavy limestone slab.

 

 

135†† Unidentified bird† by Kiyoshi Awazu, 280 mm x 415 mm, lithograph entitled blue bird

 

 

 

136†† Dove (Columba sp.) by Gikō Hayakawa, 260 mm x 330 mm, lithograph entitled in the green forest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

137†† Hummingbird (Family Trochilidae) by Shōmei Yoh, 500 mm x 260 mm, lithograph entitled the elephantís dream garden

 

 

 

(5) Digital

 

In digital printmaking the design was first created using a drawing program that was written for the digital computer. This design was then sent electronically to a mechanical printing device which made a paper copy of the digital design by adding ink to paper.

 

†††† Digital printmakers depicted birds in two very different ways. Some drew birds very accurately as in print 138. Others combined their imagination with the power of digital technology to create novel images of birds. For example, in print 139 the birdís feather pattern was simplified and the color of each feather was graded so strongly that it looks more three dimensional than in true life.

 

a†† Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator were the two drawing programs used most often to produce digital, gendai bird prints.

 

 

138†† Water pipit (Anthus spinoletta) by Masahiro Tabuki, 330 mm x 485 mm, digital print

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

139†† Northern pintail duck (Anas acuta) by Hiromitsu Sakai, 425 mm x 295 mm, digital print

 

 

 

214a†† Gray wagtail (Motacilla cinerea) by Akira Fujie, 375 mm x 265 mm, intaglio print entitled wagtail

 

214b†† Enlargement of the picture portion of print 214a

 

 

 

 

Notable Artists or Back to Guides