Woodcut Portrait – Manga Style – Hand Painted with Watercolors

a color woodcut portrait of a woman's face among lily pads

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Carving a Stylized Manga-Inspired Woodcut Portrait

Have you ever made a woodcut? It’s the same process as carving and printing a linocut, except it’s carved and printed from wood. This is a doodle-turned woodcut portrait, inspired by Manga art, and hand colored with watercolor and colored pencils. If you’d like to try one, you can get the shina wood at McClains.

Like most of my printmaking, this one started as a doodle. Then it was re-drawn on a piece of Shina wood from McClain’s.
I painted the image with watercolor, just because, and then started to carve the wood.
Inking the woodcut block for the first time with a speedball brayer and akua ink
a manga style woodcut print portrait in process, with a woman's face, and pond lily leaves behind her
Pulling the first print from the inked woodcut block
woodcut prints hanging to dry in an artist's studio
After a day in the studio, inking and pulling woodcut prints (the hanging system is made from stainless curtain spring clips, like this, and coated wire you can take down and store when you’re not drying prints.)
painting a relief print with watercolor, and seeing the way unsized paper can bleed the pigments
Painting watercolor on unsized japanese printmaking paper can look blotchy, since the pigment bleeds out and through the paper (see below)
japanese paper without sizing may have some ink or pigment bleedt hrough on the back
The watercolor is seeping through the rear of this Japanese Kozo printmaking paper, but it’s ok, and it’ll dry just fine.
a manga style woodcut print portrait in process, getting some colored pencil added, with a woman's face, and pond lily leaves behind her
After the watercolor has dried, it’s always *so fun* to tint areas with soft veils of colored pencil!
a woodblock print of a woman;'s face, next to the finished print, hand colored with watercolor and colored pencils
The woodblock next to the finished print. This is an edition of 25, and I get to color every one of them differently if I want. Art Boss.

Woodcut and Linocut Tutorial List

a manga style woodcut print portrait of a woman's face with pond lily leaves behind her
Lily – 8 x 6 inch Woodcut, Hand Painted with Watercolors and Colored Pencils – Available in my Etsy Shop over here
printmaking brayers and ink on a studio table
Printmaking tools beckoning…

Engage Your Creative Brain

Learning how to make art in a new way is a Refresh Button for our creativity. We busy our hands, comprehend new things, and express ourselves at the same time.

Learning a new art-making method also expands neuropaths and makes our brains stronger. Plus, we’ve got something new to show for our efforts; a block print, a watercolor or a drawing, etc.

If you’re in the Baby Boomer generation, studies show that we can handle responsibility and hard work like pros, but we’re fearful about learning new stuff (technology, online banking, using Uber or AirBnB, etc.). Why are we fearful? Because we can’t tolerate being beginners.

We need to know how to do things, instantly, in order to stay engaged. In other words, we feel dumb if we don’t get it right the first time, so we either avoid new things, or toss in the towel after the Intro. What say you on this matter?

Here’s a playlist of linocut demonstrations on my YouTube Channel

Avoiding the Learning Curve

I’m fascinated with what makes each generation tick. And I’m intrigued by this Beginner Avoidance trend. Are you an avoider of new things? Are you interested in making art with new methods? Do you stall over starting a new project for fear that you “don’t know how”?

If so, take comfort in a handful of truths; 1) every single one of us is a beginner when we try new things, 2) youtube is your 24/7 private teacher when you have process questions and 3) it’s only art. You’re not performing lifesaving surgery on a puppy. Jump right in.

You’re just carving an image, inking a block, and pressing it to paper. If it doesn’t work, toss it, and make another one. Really and truly. Have some fun. You deserve it.

Thanks for stopping by and I’ll see you in the next post!


buy linoleum by the roll
Money Saving Tip: You can buy unmounted linoleum by the roll, and split the volume with other printmaking friends.

Art Quote

It turned out this man worked for the Dalai Lama. And she said gently – that they believe when a lot of things start going wrong all at once, it is to protect something big and lovely that is trying to get itself born – and that this something needs for you to be distracted so that it can be born as perfectly as possible.

Being featured in Hand magazine
One of my dry point engravings (this one) was featured in The Hand Magazine. Huge Grin. 🙂

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10 thoughts on “Woodcut Portrait – Manga Style – Hand Painted with Watercolors”

  1. Janet M Catmull

    Congratulations on having your engraving featured un The Hand Magazine! That’s awesone, you are so incredibly good at printmaking!

  2. Jeanine Robb

    Hi Belinda, As always you inspire me! Thought I would share a quote that I shared with my high school students just this week about being a beginner: “Give yourself permission to be a beginner. New territory is where we experience our greatest sense of aliveness.” -Jack Canfield. Lots of new beginnings it seems under our current situation. The technology thing resonated with me as I was thrust into all kinds of newness as a distance teacher. Anyway, just want you to know how much I appreciate you :).

    1. Hi Jeanine!!! I love that quote! Thank you! And yes, the technology learning curve is steep, especially if you don’t have someone to instruct you in a way that makes sense to you. Thanks for your visit, and I’ve enjoyed your USPS art posts on insta!

  3. Just another weekly breath of thanks that you take the time to share so much of your experience, and make it so practical. I’m focused on other skills and techniques, but this post brought back memories of doing simple linocut prints many, many years ago! Keep up your marvelous sharing, I collect and refer to all of your posts on watercolor processes, techniques, and resources. Thank you!

    1. Hi there, Bern! Thanks for this very kind note. I appreciate your taking the time to write. I hope that when your current skill goals come to fruition, you have time and urgings to make another linocut.

    1. Hi David, I’m glad it *looks* simple… and I guess I’d say it really is simple, after you’ve done it a few times. Just like making pancakes… the first 2 or 3 come out a little wonky – but you keep at it till they’re all yummy. 🙂

  4. Claire Bronson

    Hi Belinda, I appreciate your emails so much. I have a piece of shina wood to carve and am wondering if you used akua inks or the color pigments? Did you press these by hand? Your ink coverage is amazing. Great piece, love the manga inspiration. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hi Claire, the ink was Akua intaglio modified with Akua magmix – and this edition was printed on a press. I bet you’ll love carving the shina. It’s soft and almost silky once it’s sanded. Did you get it at McClains? Thanks for your compliments. 🙂

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