Research Point: Advanced and Experimental Relief Prints

06 & 09/01/17

Research Point: Advanced and Experimental Relief Prints

Now look at the work of Clare Curtis or Mark Hearld, both contemporary printmakers, and look closely at how their prints are created. What makes them work? Are there any techniques you could re-use? 

I had a look at both printmakers suggested and had intended to concentrate on Mark Hearld, however, I had another look at Clare Curtis’ work and decided to consider both of them.

Initially, they both use nature predominantly in their work, taking inspiration from the environment around them, although Clare appears to lean towards more of a narrative. Her prints have included a human element with bringing in the suburban and some figurative subjects.

I had a look through the internet searches, however, a lot if not most of her work is recorded on her website. I noticed that there appears to be overlaid transparent colour and almost inconsequential  marks that add interest and liveliness to a scene as a whole. One print I particularly liked, (it is on the page that opens on the previous link), is “Coppicing”. It has a simplification of objects yet a complex composition. Structures in the print pull your eye around it and has many places for it to rest and contemplate as any good image should. The colours are complementary with black/grey dramatic shapes pulling them all together – I see more each time I look at it. Elements are repeated in other prints, once an object is part of a composition it is not discarded but re-used in other scenes e.g. the tree trunk in “Coppicing” appears again in “Woodland” but in reverse, in other colour-ways. One is a linocut, the other is a lithograph. I like the flow of ideas from one technique to another and she says that she often combines techniques within the same image. Colour is used to great effect, particularly complementary colours, which are sometimes muted for subtlety yet still give drama by their juxtaposition. I particularly liked this in the oranges and blues of “Wordsworth’s House” and the pinks and sage greens of “Aeonium”.

From looking at these works of Clare Curtis, I am struck by the mark making, use of apparently unrelated shapes and the simple colour choices that add depth and complexity to the image. Comparing these with my efforts, even with all the planning of Project 8, my images are far too simplistic. I need to make more of the elements of my images with a variety of marks, and also consider the use of less colours. I should make fewer colours work harder for me by overlaying transparent colour and considering which goes next to another. I have also noticed that I tend to avoid the addition of black in my colour images – why is that? I have previously mentioned that I like the outlining in other research and the way that black is used to denote tone, yet I haven’t taken advantage of it myself. Maybe I think too much in flat colour, I should draw on my painting and tonal work to incorporate the black hatching and mark making. I am thinking back to the Monoprinting assignment, where I used templates of vases in different sizes and orientations, overlaying them to make interesting abstract images. I need to bring all these things I have previously learnt to the table and not think in isolation. As they say, I need to mix it up a bit!

Final Print for Project 4

Final Print for Project 4

I also watched a few YouTube videos of Mark Hearld’s work and processes. He, like Clare, uses nature as his inspiration and builds images and designs from motifs he finds around him on his walks in the countryside. Whereas Clare often follows a narrative and has many book illustrations to her credit, Mark has followed a path into design, fabric design being most prevalent.

I found this short film interesting as an insight into Mark’s thought processes and journey. I watched this last Friday and tried, over the weekend, to assimilate the content of this and other films that I viewed. Of course, there are many similar aspects from most printmakers, however, I found it interesting that both Mark and Clare were advocates and practitioners of collage. I haven’t tried much collage myself, apart from at school many years ago, it did however, make sense that these two media would inform each other by the overlaying of shapes, colours and textures. Mark says that he thinks in layers, which I now realise is key to producing interesting prints. Printed images are of course created in layers. Is this why my print images are flat and simplistic, I wonder? Layers create depth and interest – if I think of the flat finished article before I even begin, this must ignore many aspects I could explore to create interest! Maybe I could use collage as a tool to work through ideas rather than just relying on drawing. It is an extension of the back, mid and foreground of any painting composition.

Techniques to Consider

  • Introduce black as a tool for outline, texture and tone
  • Consider keeping elements of an image simple, yet introduce complexity in the composition
  • Draw on previous experience such as drawing, painting and monoprinting to bring interest to a composition
  • Use less colours but make them work harder by overlaying, considering juxtaposition and texture
  • Explore non representational mark making to add life
  • Consider using collage when working through ideas
  • Think in layers rather than a flat image to incorporate depth in an image
  • Let things happen!

 

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