I make color woodblock prints using the traditional Japanese hanga method. This is printing with brushes and a hand-held baren from multiple hand-carved wood blocks using rice paste, pigments and water. It was the technique used to make the ukiyo-e prints of Hokusai, Hiroshige, and others during the 19th century.
I love the process of making these prints: the way pictorial simplicity is encouraged, the way an image is separated into parts and put back together, the way the translucent colors blend and juxtapose, the way the wood interacts with the paper.
My imagery explores the development of pictorial space using an inherently flat medium: the carved and printed wood block. By using techniques which build on intimate aspects of the Japanese approach affecting texture and tone (variations in printing pressure, fades in the brushing of the pigments) I seek a balance in the tension between flat printed shape and the illusion of a depicted landscape.
The prints in the Showings Invitational are among my favorite images. Each is the result of multiple printings from between 7 and 12 blocks utilizing between 8 and 13 different colors. The mountain perspective of many of these images seems conducive to working out potentials in woodblock printing I find especially interesting.
Matt Brown is Massachusetts born and graduated from Harvard in 1981 with a degree in Art and Architecture. He worked as a carpenter and cabinet maker for the next 14 years. In 1993 Matt began working in color woodblock printing, soon after the birth of his first son, Nathaniel. His art major in college and his years working as a carpenter and cabinetmaker have helped Matt in learning the craft of woodblock printing.
In his printmaking work Matt is primarily self-taught, but still feels he owes much to fellow hanga printmakers, particularly Dave Bull of Tokyo, Japan, the late Bill Paden, of NYC, and Karl Hecksher, of New Palz, NY.
Printmaking has been Matt’s full-time work since 1996. He currently lives in New Hampshire with his wife Betsy and their two sons (Asher was born in 1997). They have sheep, beehives, and a border collie dog named Lucy.