Further Painted Prints
Explore a variety of themes to include still-life, figures, landscapes and so on. Enjoy the spontaneous results you can achieve and the freedom of working directly onto the printing plate provides.
Having attended my first life class on Saturday for some time, I was keen to use some of my drawings from then for monoprinting. I reproduced a couple of the poses in my sketchbook to help me make sense of tones and shapes, plus used a second seated pose from the original drawing.
Seated Pose 1
Sketch plus initial and subsequent notes to inform my painting on the plate.
Using A2 heavy weight cartridge paper, water-based inks and acrylic paints mixed with printing medium (supplies have arrived!) I was able to used more colour. Interestingly, the actual printing inks are less likely to grip the glass printing plate than the acrylic/medium mix, this in turn makes the print less solid. Of course, the upside is that this gives more texture to the printed finish – although the downside is that this may not be wanted!
This time, my favourite result and the most successful print coincide in print 3. It’s captured the pose, tones, the highlights and the texture of the hair.
Seated Pose 2
I had a look back at Degas’ monoprints and decided to roller the plate with black ink – this, incidentally, worked much better with my ink that using a brush. I then wiped and scratched out highlights and texture as I had noted in Degas’ work. I was really pleased with the first print using this method, until I realised I’d omitted the second leg! For Print 2, I misted water over the plate from standing height to create a fine spray and then working into to resultant plate with brown and black ink using a brush – with gold as the highlight. A little more fine texture was scratched into the fabric and hair using the brush handle. This was quite nice too as the background was subtle in contrast to the figure itself. Print 2 was re-established in Print 3 with brushwork and texture – the more I look at this one, the more I like it – it has an ambiguous quality that I find attractive. The final print is misted ghost of Print 3 which has eliminated much of the texture and has given an ethereal feel to the image.
This pose was reproduced in my sketchbook from the original drawing, however, as it was quite complex, I found I was distorting the proportions without the model in front of me. As I had originally used an approximately A2 sized piece of paper for the drawing, I thought I could place it beneath the glass printing plate and paint over the top. This work well for the plate, however, I ran across a couple of problems with the actual printing.
In Print 1, initially it appeared successful until I noticed that I had not given any attention to the outstretched leg. This occurred because I had used a charcoal drawing beneath the glass plate and it appeared that it had been painted, when it hadn’t. I also note that the placing of the paper has been too high and there is no border on the top edge of the print, in fact, this has occurred on each of the prints. All of the prints have pros and cons with their results, however, I am pleased that such a complex pose has been more or less achieved in them all. Mostly, I think it is due to lack of experience and skill that there isn’t an overall success in this selection, however, lessons are being learnt all the time!
Exploring landscape and/or natural forms for painted monoprints:
This motif is something I revisit often, the apple tree grows outside my window and has a gnarled, twisted trunk and branches. I thought this would be a good starting point before leaping straight into a full-blown landscape.
I made a couple of sketches of the tree and a scene from a photograph taken on a recent holiday of a green lagoon set amongst volcanic mountains and black sand.
Using a simple image of the apple tree with blue sky and green grass, I pulled a few prints in a more painterly fashion.
Each print is on A3 white cartridge paper – unfortunately the photograph of the first print has a blue hue in its background. The sky in Print 1 is more patchy than I intended although I like the texture of the tree trunk and grass. Print 2 has a stronger sky, however, I feel that the subject ie the tree itself has suffered through its lack of presence as with Print 3 which is a misted over ghost of 2. In print 4 I used a fine spray of water on existing ink for the sky and reworked the tree and grass. This, I think worked well, in that the subject of the image, the tree, has been given more focus.
Moving on from this to the landscape, I decided to use the full-sized sheets of A2. The scene is a black, volcanic beach with a green lagoon, surrounded by volcanic cliffs.
Print 1 in retrospect, has worked quite well, however, the painted plate had denser pigment on the cliffs with more texture worked into it. This has not reproduced as I had hoped – probably due to my old friend the black ink. Print 2 has more depth in the cliffs due to a more dilute black ink, the image has a more desolate feeling yet doesn’t convey the actual scene. Print 3 has worked the best as an image and as the scene – looking at it now I am actually quite pleased with it. Print 4 as the ghost print of number 3 describes the scene well, however, there is no texture evident, although this would make a good under painting for working into.
All in all, this has been a very interesting, experimental and sometimes surprising exercise to perform. I came across a few repeat issues and learnt lessons.
Issues and Lessons Learnt:
- The cartridge paper was a robust support for printing and the bright white set off the prints clearly
- I was surprised that the acrylic paint mixed with printing medium was more successful in reproduction than the specific printing ink
- The black printing ink kept catching me out as it needed to be diluted more that the other inks and paint/medium mixes
- The registration of the paper onto the plate (hopefully the correct term) was tricky to place, particularly with the larger prints and paper
- I tend to get carried away and keep working on the same plate without taking my workspace into consideration, I have to be careful not to dirty my printing paper with used rags and hands (even with gloves on)
- Am keen to try the oil based inks I have purchased, however, my drying “washing” line is being installed as I type this, so hanging prints to dry will be easier when this is done
- With a large image, I struggled to keep the paint wet enough by the time the entire plate was complete – maybe the oil based inks will negate this
- I have to keep an eye on the time I spend on this as I am definitely becoming addicted!!!
The freedom given by using a brush is the least confining of the of the monoprint methods and gives a full range of marks and expressive forms to include in your final print. How have you translated your subject using this freedom? Have you been able to express your ideas fully using the monoprint?
Without really thinking about it, I began exploring what else I could use and what experiments I could perform to make things work for my ideas. Using the brush was great for drawing and for using more receptive inks, I found it limiting for laying down a solid colour and used a roller for this effect. So inadvertently, I may have rushed ahead but I have learnt many lessons and am very keen to see what else can be done.