'Finding the Story', Moku Hanga woodcut (gouache on Rives BFK)
Diane Sandall is a relief printmaker based in Oregon, United States. Her work is inspired by imaginary tales and her photography.
What was your first experience of printmaking?
My mother used to create Christmas cards from linocuts when I was a child and I was fascinated by the concept of printing, that you could replicate your drawing as many times as you wanted. She saw my interest and taught me to make my own prints. I loved the combination of carving and drawing; even as a child I was compelled to carve. I would ferret away bandages to take care of my nicks and cuts myself so my mum wouldn't tell me I was too young and take the knives away.
What inspires you as an artist?
I love seeing a tale unfold in a picture, whether my own or someone else's. Stories captivate me; I love illustration, finding the images which support and augment someone's words. However, many of my prints and drawings illustrate stories which have never been written. I like when they look like plates from old story books, I call them 'pictures from imaginary tales'. I like taking photographs, especially when I travel and use them as my subject matter rather often.
What are you working on at present?
I would like to better understand the Moku Hanga printing technique. Multi block, multi color prints take a certain immersion of thought and concentration which is so meditative and I have more of those in my sights next. I have also been wanting to explore the storytelling aspect of landscapes. I have some photos I took in Sweden that are begging to be made into prints.
'Suddenly Shy', Moku Hanga woodcut (gouache on Magnani Pescia)
What is special about printmaking?
The smell of the ink! That energized moment when you lift a print from the block, the combination of drawing and sculpture when you carve the image into the block. I like that printmaking is process oriented, each step is important and requires something different from you.
What is your favourite printmaking process, and why?
Relief printing. I like linocuts very much but carving cherry is my favorite. I love the way a sharp blade feels cutting through the wood, I like the intricacy that carving wood supports. I would like to learn lithography but have very limited studio facilities so that may not happen. But being inspired by other printing techniques and using that inspiration to "up my game" encourages me to push the envelope of my relief technique.
What prompted you to take part in the International Print Exchange?
I collect art work everywhere I go, always on a budget! This exchange is an ideal way to collect more work and contribute to a community of printmakers at the same time. I like the element of surprise, the moment when you hold the envelope with your new prints inside and and don't yet know which beautiful work awaits you.
'Hazel', linocut (Gamblin ink on Magnani Pescia)
What is your favourite colour?
Black, no question.
What is your favourite paper and ink?
Gamblin relief inks are the best for me, they have such great coverage and intensity and even though they are oil based they clean up so easily. When I am working in Moku Hanga I like using Holbein Gouache, the colors are beautiful and rich.
My favorite paper is Magnani Pescia, it is thick, flexible and felty and takes the ink so beautifully. If I need a thinner paper my local art supply stocks a gorgeous handmade Mulberry paper that I often use.
What kind of music do you listen to whilst printmaking?
When I am facing a really difficult day, whether particularly intricate carving or getting a print effect that takes all my wiles, I always listen to Debussy piano pieces. He is very inspiring and settles me down. On a daily basis my taste ranges quite widely, from Fields of the Nephilim to John Hiatt, Kate Bush to Rattletrap Ruckus. I love listening to music while I work, the world melts away when I am in my studio with good music on.
Who is your favourite printmaker?
Kawase Hasui, to be sure. I find his sense of composition and color to be sublime.
For black and white work I also love Laurence Hyde and Giacomo Patri. Both of them mastered the interplay of positive and negative space.