Research Point: Contemporary Printmakers who Heavily Rely on Texture

Research Point: Contemporary Printmakers who Heavily Rely on Texture

Find some contemporary printmakers who rely heavily on texture in the prints. What sort of textures have they used to create effects? How well has it worked?

I found a few contemporary artists who predominantly use texture in their work, although most seem to make abstract images.

Anne Moore: on studying some of her work, I can see she uses or re-uses found objects and scraps for her prints.  Bubble wrap is readily identified,torn paper and cloth, metal washers and gaskets etc. these all produce introduce impressions and shapes and give her work an originality and allure.

Liz Perry: Liz obtains a lot of her inspiration from nature and uses leaves, bark etc to create texture in her work. She makes monotypes, some of which she combines with block printing. Her work is abstract but gently so and definitely has its roots in the natural world. The images produced are colourful and full of texture from the natural objects she gathers.

Lynn Bailey: Again using naturally found objects such as leaves and various flora, Lynn creates some abstract and some more realistically grounded images. With her base painted or transferred images such as landscape or wildlife, the natural masks used add texture and pattern to her final prints. These work well, however I am more drawn to the pure textural abstract images with their richness of colour and pattern.


Research Point: Printmakers who use Back-drawing

Research Point: Printmakers who use Back-drawing

Find some printmaking artists who use back drawing.  Examine how they use it and evaluate it. Does it work well? What can you learn from it?

I struggled to find anyone at first because printing is all new to me. I decided to have a look through some fellow students’ blogs to at least come up with some names and go from there. Funnily enough, once I found a way in, I began unearthing more artists by myself.

One of these was William Kentridge, a South African artist who makes monoprints, lino and wood block cuts and engraving, along with drawing and film making. He has a background in theatre sets which appears to have inspired his Pit series of monoprints. These entail images of three-sided set-like structures, (sets also known as pits apparently) with figures in a sort of tableau. Some of these appear to have back drawing and some not. However, the most striking series of monoprints which certainly seem to have copious amounts of back drawing is the Thinking Aloud series.  He doesn’t appear to have a website of his own, although is mentioned on many therefore I hope the image below is not infringing any copyright.

William Kentridge: Thinking Aloud, Limited Edition (with 3 Prints) , William KENTRIDGE, BREIDBACH, Angela - Rare & Contemporary Photography ...:

Thinking Aloud Monoprint by William Kentridge

The original monoprint appears to have been worked into in a progression of prints and developed further. This has produced a set of lively marks and become a tangle of scratchings and “thoughts” as the title implies. I think this puts across the message, culminates in illustrating the mass of thoughts a human brain produces yet keeps the base print image dominant. From this I can learn the freedom that this method and/or technique can give an artist yet still keep an anchor in the original.

Another artist, that although was mentioned by other students, I kept coming across in my searches was Paul Gauguin. I didn’t realise that he was known for his mono-types as well as his paintings, yet there seems to be many examples – I’m glad I’ve found some. The ones I found are mainly based on the Tahitian women.

Paul Gauguin, Crouching Tahitian woman, 1901 – 1902, traced monotype print. I think this artwork would go beautifully with Mid-Century.:

Paul Gauguin, Crouching Tahitian woman, 1901 – 1902, traced monotype print.

“Crouching Tahitian Woman” above is clearly back-drawn, with the outline defined and the dark tones of the shadows hatched. This may be considered a more traditional method and enhances the darkness of the shadows and adds some texture.

775px-Paul_Gauguin,_Eve_(The_Nightmare),_1899–1900_monotype.jpg (775×1023):

Eve (The Nightmare) 1899–1900 monotype by Paul Gauguin

“Eve (The Nightmare)” is a more complex example and works well to give the scene some menace. The colours are limited so the back drawing gives more definition to the subject and composition, assisting the viewer’s eye around the image. The back drawn marks work nicely with the softer monoprint textures to give variety of tone.

Some other artists I looked are Ann Symes and Pawel Kwiatkowksi of which examples can be viewed on my Pinterest board


Research Point: Matisse’s Blue Nudes


Research Point: Matisse’s Blue Nudes

Look at Matisse’s blue nudes and see what you can learn from them.  What makes them so powerful? Find other artists who work in this way and compare them to Matisse and to what you are doing.

vervediary: “Nu bleu I, Nu bleu II, Nu bleu III, Nu bleu IV Henri Matisse 1954 ”:

Nu bleu I, Nu bleu II, Nu bleu III, Nu bleu IV Henri Matisse 1952

These four blue nudes by Matisse appear the same at first glance yet they are all subtly different. The pose is the same but Matisse has altered shapes and angles applied to the cut-outs. This has had the effect of changing the weight-bearing and proportions of the figure and, particularly in number 3, the attitude of the figure. Here she appears to be more confident and seductive, whereas the others have more of a reticent or shy appearance. This is all the more impressive when you just see the simple shapes and that their arrangements have the power to convey that with no detail or staging to lead you into a narrative. Even the titles are simplistic and give no further clues.

Paul Butler : paul butler | multi-disciplinary canadian artist:

by Paul Butler



As a direct comparison, I found some work by a Canadian artist called Paul Butler who uses collage in his artwork. I refer mainly to his “Within Us” series, where he uses cut-outs of figures combined with photographic scenes which shows their fleeting presence in that environment. Where Matisse mainly uses the positive shape, Paul Butler has used the negative with strong effect. As with Matisse these are simple yet powerful.





This next artist has used cut-outs in a beautifully, unexpected way in an installation piece called Carbon Obscura at Motsalvat. In a nutshell, here Lloyd Godman uses cut-outs or piercings through which he projects light, this gives a double effect from the light coming through the cut design itself and the light cast down on to the floor and changes with the angle and whether natural or artificial light is used. This, although appears fairy simple in theory was complex and time-consuming to create. It shows where a basic idea can lead. Here is the link to the artist’s website for the full explanation:

Shepard Fairey - collage, colour, figure.:

by Shepard Fairey – Collage

This is a powerful image and is a collage although not simple in any way. It has a message and is complex in design. As unfortunately, I have not seen this in real life, I have to imagine how it was made. Some of the background designs look like wall paper yet some have a printed appearance – as if lace was used to mask the pattern.  Again it shows how simple cut-outs can be pushed and manipulated to make a sophisticated image – although, compared to Matisse’s simplicity, I have to say that they are no less sophisticated because of that simplicity.

Relating these and others I have seen (see Pinterest board: ) to my tentative beginnings in monoprinting, I can see how using masks, cut-outs and collage can relate and inform more complex images. It is interesting to see, however, that paring back in order to make a successful mask for printing can concentrate and focus the mind’s eye on a possible outcome. I am also interested in exploring different supports and papers on which to print, I am keen to use found papers, such as magazines, newspaper, wrapping papers etc and have been inspired by my quick research. I will do more.



All images found via Pinterest and credit given where known – reproduction is purely for editorial reasons and non-commercial.

Research Point: Monoprints by Degas


Research Point: Monoprints by Degas

Take a look at monoprints by Degas. How have these  been achieved? How successful are they? What can you learn from his prints?

I have been collecting a few examples of Degas’ monoprints on Pinterest and have a pin board dedicated to them:

Quite a few of Degas’ monoprints appear to have been made by inking the entire plate and removing ink to indicate the subject matter, whether that is a figure, an object or light. He seems to have used a variety of tools to do this, although many marks are soft as if he has used a cloth or rag. Occasionally, scratch marks can be seen to help denote tone and texture. He quite clearly also uses his fingers to press into the ink and smudge away to soften the image. A lot of the time he worked very tonally and, in the examples I’ve seen, there is minimal line drawing. Some of the images appear to be second or third ghost pressings that he has worked into with pastel, chalks and washes.

I think these have worked beautifully and have great mood and atmosphere. There seems to be an added intimacy compared with his paintings.

I can learn many things from Degas’ prints, not least to be free and expressive. Although, many colours can be used within the monoprinting process itself, the use of tone is still key to producing atmospheric images. Almost anything may be used to make a mark, and those marks can be incredibly subtle or strongly dominant. Even as each print is unique, the inked plate itself can be re-used and modified many times producing different effects yet underpinned by the original. The ghost prints used as under-paintings for pastel work is something I would like to try out, as well as washes and maybe, when I use oil based inks, there maybe an element of resist that can also be explored.

Links to articles in relation to my research:

Degas Monoprint - girl brushing her hair

Degas Monoprint – girl brushing her hair


I really liked this print – it’s low on detail but high on impact. My observations are noted along side with this and the other print I’ve chosen. Both will be added to my sketchbook as a constant reminder of what may be achieved.




Degas Monoprint - The Fireside

Degas Monoprint – The Fireside



This is beautifully depicted and is packed full of atmosphere and mood. Annotated with observations and inserted into my sketchbook.





Research Point: Other Student’s Learning Logs for Printmaking


Research Point: Other Student’s Learning Logs for Printmaking

Before you get started, see if you can find any learning logs (blogs) online by other OCA printmaking students… Make notes in your own log (or blog).

First confession, although I did read through the course before-hand, I was so excited about getting going with this, I seem to have glossed over the “Before you get started…” bit!

Well, better late than never!

This was definitely worth doing and, possibly even better than doing it before my first experiments – I, at least now, have a rough idea of what they are saying. Some students are obviously following a printmaking degree pathway and have had previous experience, others, like me, are dipping their toes in for the first time. Here are a couple of examples covering that range.

Experienced Printmaker

Some interesting approaches here – where she has struggled with water-based inks drying too quickly, gum arabic was used on the printing plate first to allow the ink to be lifted off more easily. Plus soaking, then blotting the paper prior to printing seems to be a successful technique to overcome this problem. I haven’t yet had my oil based inks arrive so am manoeuvring my way round with water-based inks and will bear this in mind. It was also interesting to read that this student was using an old mangle as a print press – that’s probably given it away as to who this is!

Leisure Student

This student has taken many OCA courses over the last 6 years and is doing Printmaking 1 as a leisure course. She has no significant previous printmaking experience. I have to say, however, that the variety of visual arts courses she has experienced has fully informed her printmaking and has opened my eyes to the limitless possibilities there are with this subject. The imaginative imagery and combination of existing skills with the newly learned techniques make for exciting viewing.

I can see that this could be very addictive and will definitely improve and awaken my creativity.