Exercise: Experiments in Mark Making and Painted Plates
With your printing plate in front of you begin to make patterns of colour using your ink and brushes.
Although I had attended a day’s workshop on monoprinting from a life model a couple of years ago, I found myself very apprehensive about starting putting the ink on the plate. I am currently waiting on some equipment being delivered but did have some black, orange, brown and gold water based inks and a small budget roller to use, along with a sheet of glass from an old camper van, a small piece of perspex and a shallow plastic tray. This was a good start whilst waiting for the other supplies to arrive. Using some paper from an old, inexpensive sketchbook to start and then some thin card I found lurking at the back of some shelves, I was in a position to have a go.
My attempts are below:
Completely unsure of what I was doing. I was too tentative with the first print and completely forgot to leave a border! I preferred the ghost print of Print 2, it gives an impression of shapes with tails and is more pleasing being more faint.
Remembered to leave a border this time but was struggling to see where to place it. Thought I was being clever by masking an area with tape. I merrily continued and didn’t worry about inking over the tape and then completely forgot to remove it from the plate before placing the paper down and making the print. Not overly successful, so many things to remember!
Here the lessons learnt related to the amount of ink added to the plate. Thickness of ink is a major factor of success or failure. If too thin, the print won’t be strong enough, too thick and any subtleties that had been added would be obliterated, plus the ink may bleed over the edges. The ghost print shows more variations of printed ink.
As previous attempts had too thick ink, I tried diluting it with water but overdid it. It blended wet in wet in the print, which, although wasn’t the intention, may be an interesting effect if it was. Plus, the ink again bled over the edges. The ghost print was more interesting and I liked the way the different colours printed over each other with less ink on the plate.
I was going for the Mr Kipling Fondant Fancies icing effect here, totally did not work as I thought. The ghost print was nondescript. I need to be more inventive.
In Print 10, the random scratched marks disappeared apart from the strongest of them. In the ghost print, more marks were scratched out with the twig before taking the second impression. This made me think about using an already used plate as just the basis for another design.
Following on from Print 10, I surmised that the inconsistent inking with a brush must have been responsible for obliterating the scratched out marks, so this time I used a roller to apply the base layer of ink. Again, I scratched into the ink with random marks, however, it made no difference as these marks were lost in the printing too. It must therefore, be purely down to using too much ink on the plate. As the ghost prints always seemed to be more successful, I thought I’d keep reusing the same plate, building up the design using whatever I was left with after each print. This made me less precious about the results, more experimental and adventurous. The ink application is key and I liked the use of the roller – sometimes just re-using the ink that was left on it from before.
This is an example of the inked plate for Print 6 – it is surprising how much the print was unlike the plate.
After all the experimentation, the final print was the one I liked best. It had brown, orange and gold ink, which was rollered, brushed on and scratched out. The only reason I stopped here was because I ran out of paper!
- Amount of ink is crucial to maintaining any mark making in the print
- Keep a border around the design
- Concentrate at every step to avoid unintentional transference of ink
- Keep area clean
- Keep hands clean
- Expect the unexpected and work with it