Contemporary Japanese woodblock printmaking with Adrian Holmes


Ref: SLW12392

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About this course

Learn the ancient skill of Japanese woodblock printing with a contemporary approach. Explore this fascinating process using traditional materials and tools to create a modern masterpiece.

Course Description

Learn the ancient skill of Japanese woodblock printmaking. This course offers a contemporary take on woodblock with traditional methods and tools that have been used in Japan for centuries.

The course is inspired by the abstracted forms of modernism and the Sosaku Hanga movement of Japan. Sosaku Hanga (creative prints) emphasizes the artist’s need for autonomous self-expression in the drawing, carving and designing of prints. This remains a major appeal of woodblock printing today.

You will learn how to extract modern ideas from your surroundings, hone your compositional skills and create beautiful expressive woodblock prints with a precise and professional finish. Exploration will include a walk in the Gardens to entice inspiration for your woodblock designs.

You will learn the confidence to create your own woodblock prints through

- A good understanding of the tools and craft involved. 

- How to simplify an image and make it into an effective print design. 

- One-to-one guidance on your style and process of creating semi-abstract work.

- An insight into colour theory, particularly about the printing process, how to separate an image by colour and use watercolour to achieve different intensities of colour. 

- An understanding of traditional techniques, tools and materials in a modern context.

The tutor will introduce you to the process and history of Japanese woodblock, as well as its modern application in the course. There will be free discussion, talk about interests and hopes from the course and learning aims.

After the short walk around the Gardens to gather information/inspiration, sketching and mark-making, you will discuss the design and inspiration for your prints on a one-to-one basis with the tutor. You will develop your design using mark-making and collage, leading to a finished image for transfer to woodblock. You will carve your blocks, learning about approaches to carving, technique, tools and process. You will learn how to test print and print, learning various skills including pigment application, colour choice, how to hold the paper and take care of the paper.

There will be an emphasis on exploration and play, addressing specific areas of printing, registration, errors, problem-solving, etc. There will be time for discussion, questions and answers with a small display of work at the end of the course.

Throughout the course, the tutor will guide you through the fascinating process of woodblock printing, using traditional materials and tools to create a modern master piece.


Arrival Day - this is the first date listed above

Courses start early evening. Residential students to arrive from 4pm, non-residential students to arrive by 6.45pm.

6.45pm: Welcome, followed by dinner (included).

8 - 9pm: First teaching session, attendance is essential.

Daily timetable

Classes 9.15 - 5pm, lunch is included.

From 6.30pm: Dinner (included for residential students).

Evening working - students may have access to workshops until 9pm, but only with their tutor's permission and provided any health and safety guidelines are observed.

Last day

Classes 9.15am - 3pm, lunch is included.

Residential students are to vacate their rooms by 10am please.

(This timetable is for courses of more than one day in length. The tutor may make slight variations)

Course Materials


  • The college will supply some of the materials including a set of Japanese woodcutting tools, a baren, 2 sheets of Japanese Shina plywood 20cm x 15xm x 6mm. Masa paper x 8 sheets, plus 2 x sheets of another high quality paper, tracing paper, carbon paper, a folder and rice starch glue.

What students need to bring

  • Any designs/sketches you would like to explore and possibly print.
  • Sketchbooks.
  • A small set of watercolour paints in tubes (not pans) – colours: a red, yellow, blue, black and white of your choice.
  • An apron, a cushion to sit on.
  • Newspaper.

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • General art materials are available from the shop including tracing paper, carbon paper, watercolour paint tubes, brushes, sketchbooks, pencils and paper
Manual dexterity and strength in your hands is needed for using tools and cutting blocks on this course. Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio. This includes stout covered footwear, i.e. no open-toed shoes or sandals.


Adrian Holmes

Adrian Holmes is a printmaker devoted to Japanese printmaking. Following study in Japan and years of exploring the capabilities of this process, Adrian now makes work to commission as well as non-commissioned work that shows regularly in the South West of England. He divides his time between his art practice, teaching woodblock printmaking in the Southwest and continuing his dedicated study of woodblock printmaking in Japan. Adrian is currently based at Krowji studio in Cornwall.


Residential option available. Find out accommodation costs and how to book here.

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