When Paul Blake catches a fish, it is just as likely to be used to create artwork for walls or tee shirts as a meal. Blake, who has lived in Sekiu since retiring from teaching in the Port Angeles School District, makes impressions from fish using the Japanese technique called “gyotaku.” The word gyotaku comes from the Japanese word for fish, gyo, and for impression, taku.
Blake’s passion for teaching, fascination with living organisms and interest in Japanese culture reflects in his signature seal meaning:
The beauty of the natural world continues to be his inspiration.
“Nature has been my teacher and by sharing the beauty of our natural world, I hope to inspire that appreciation and concern for conservation and protection of our living environment.”
His art pieces use a process called indirect printing. He adheres silk to the fish and then, in layers, applies etching ink across the top of the silk, detailing every single scale, form and texture of the fish. Each ink color is mixed and applied as a traditional artist would in building a painting. Instead of a paintbrush, Blake uses a tool called a tampo made of silk wrapped around cotton. By layering multiple fish impressions on top of one another and adding color washes and seaweed impressions, he can show depth of field as well as complex patterns for the composition.