I have been working the craft of color woodblock print-making since January, 1993. Years spent working in the building trades after college (particularly cabinet-making) contributed a lot to the development of my printmaking. Self-taught, my pursuit in the first few years was mostly in isolation. Being able to spend time with the Japanese prints, at home, with friends and neighbors who own prints, at several museums, through books, was key. In my craft I feel often the beneficiary of the work and discoveries of generations of artists and craftsmen, most Japanese but not all. Finding Walter Phillips’ book Technique of the Colour Woodcut was very helpful.
The hanga method is printing from multiple color wood blocks using water. Most Western print-making techniques have used oil as the medium for printing, printmaking in Asia has a history that relies on water.
Printing with water works best done by hand, using a baren. Emphasis on water as a medium in art and writing, and a tradition of disciplined use of the human body in the production of craft, may have a lot to do with why Japan hosts a strong tradition of printing with water. This is reflected in the term to describe many Japanese prints: ukiyo-e, or floating world.