Gyotaku, the Art of the Fish Print

In this 6-hour beginning workshop, you will learn the elements of creating a fish print using oil based relief inks. Subjects covered are selection of the fish, cleaning and preparation, inking methods and types of rice paper.

Emphasis is on the creation of a realistic print, utilizing the elements of design, balance, value, and shading to achieve a pleasing overall image. We”ll also paint in the eyes so that all prints will be completed at the end of the day.  Expect to leave the class with at least four completed prints of two or more different fish. All fish and specialized materials are provided, but students may bring in their own fish for the class.




Hawaiian Style Gyotaku

Learn  a style of gyotaku- fish rubbing- that allows you to take a quick  black print of a fish and still be able to eat the fish.  This method, perfected by contemporary artists in Hawai’i, uses black sumi-e ink or black acrylic. The print is quickly made while the fish is still cool.  The black print captures the details and shape on an Asian rice paper.  You’ll then add color with watercolors and colored pencils.  The final step will be painting the eyes to bring the fish alive on the paper.  This is a shorter workshop because the print is made quickly,  and most of the workshop time is enhancing the colors and shading of the print.  5 hours, expect to finish 3-4 prints




Advanced Gyotaku

This is a three to five day series of advanced workshops that each build on the previous day’s work. There are several different topics covered in advanced techniques. In these classes you learn the artistic elements of creating a gyotaku image, the selection of materials, including inks and papers, the two methods-direct and indirect, different techniques of preparation of the fish, plant pressing techniques, and the preparation of the print for display, including eyes, signature, and mounting. 


The following are descriptions of each day’s topics:

  • Making a Scene- Creating backgrounds for gyotaku images
  • Back to School- Techniques of printing schools and multiple fishes
  • Wet mounting and collage techniques
  • The Eye of the Fish- various techniques of painting fish eyes and ways to complete an image
  • Nature printing seaweeds and water plants into an image.