Project 14: Investigating Combination Printmaking and Incorporating Chine Colle Collages – Part Two

26/09 – 11/10/17

Project 14: Investigating Combination Printmaking and Incorporating Chine Colle Collages – Part Two

In this project you will continue with your investigation into combination printmaking by selecting your own mixture of techniques to create a print series.

First of all – hands up to a three-week break through illness and am now finding myself with a pretty tight deadline for two projects. It sounds feasible, yet when developing ideas, deciding which techniques to use and drying times it all starts to crowd in. This may have influenced my decision to be looser in my designs, however, I am also very aware of how long I take to develop an idea and then how restrictive this can be. This time, I plan to be more abstract and more experimental during the process.

Themes

I finally came up with an idea by observing the effect of a round shaving mirror in early morning light, it’s reflective qualities both in image and light, together with the shadow also cast. This made me think of circles in relation to extremes ie extreme heat and cold can both burn, so instead of a straight line with extremes at each end, they form a circle and come together – therefore opposites attract. There is also the eternity of never-ending circles.  As for colours, I was drawn to earthy colours of ochres, siennas pushing towards red ochre/oranges and their complementary of blue to give contrast. To balance circles, we need lines, I thought of parallel lines – things starting and finishing, following a similar path but never meet. Back to balance and that I believe we need balance in all things. These are not heavy political themes but things I sometimes contemplate but have never thought of trying to illustrate before. Of course these are loose symbols and not necessarily obvious to those that think differently to me, this is where I could use text to help explain. I tried not to be too obvious and I wanted to only use two words per image, words that stand alone and together to hint at what I was visualising. I researched some idioms per image of extremes, balance, parallels and eternity – I decided on:

Opposites Attract

Balancing Act

Parallel Lives

Never Ending

Development of ideas in sketchbook 1

Development of ideas in sketchbook 1

Development of ideas in sketchbook 2

Development of ideas in sketchbook 2

 

 

 

 

 

Process and Techniques

First print called Opposites Attract work in progress, several experiments on the theme:

The Never Ending theme was approached in much the same way. Below are the collagraph blocks for the Parallel Lives and Balancing Act themes.

Once I came this far, it was the process that became the challenge. I couldn’t really see lino cuts being the best way forward, particularly for the circles. I decided on using monoprinting masks to build layers of circles in and without squares ie both positive and negative masks.

My main issues became apparent when trying to incorporate the chine colle collage. I decided to use a combination of PVA and glue stick (Pritt Stick as suggested by my tutor). The glue stick was very usable for thicker paper as long as it wasn’t left too long before being stuck down. The PVA was used for thinner papers such as tissue and this was more tricky. I had to keep the application thin and away from the edges to avoid squelching (not sure if that’s a technical term or not?), plus when using masks, it  became obvious that the glue would stick both ways because of the porous nature of the paper. I’m afraid I had to divide the process by sticking the thinner papers down first.

Another problem occurred with subsequent print layers where the paper had dried out. This stopped the ink being taken up so well and was a particular problem with the text masks. Often the entire word would not be successfully printed. I tried re-pressing the print which resulted in smudged lettering, I tried adding more collage and reprinting but had to think of a way to make the ink fill the cut-out text. I then discovered a small water spray bottle, this was a revelation and saved me many times as long as I only partially lifted the print paper to check the result and replaced it exactly. I had one mishap with this where I over-sprayed the paper and it pulled the top layer of the print paper off. Using masks and chine colle took an enormous amount of patience and care, however, I am fairly pleased with the results of the best  prints.

Regarding the “line” based prints, I decided to use collagraph blocks. For straight lines I used a combination of dried spaghetti and thread secured at each end with brass paper fasteners which allowed me to pull the thread tight and straight. For the balance print, the few small circles in the design were cut from thicker paper and stuck down.  As I have mentioned before, proper PVA glue is not available on the island so I use a respectable alternative called Alkyd Sellador. This is very similar, however, it does retain some tackiness, which again, caused a few issues with the collage. I had to ensure that the glue on the print paper side was stickier than the Sellador on the print block side. Often I had to carefully lift the print from the block and use a scalpel to prise the edges of the collage paper from the block, all without smudge the print! All in all, not withstanding the tacky print block, it was more successful to use the collagraph block than the mono print masks. I did return to masks for the text  though. I note that in my sketch book, I had considered using the back drawing/writing technique for the text, however, the text masks worked pretty well.

Below are the prints discarded for various reasons stated in the captions:

Opposites Attract - dislodged print block on registration

Opposites Attract – dislodged print block on registration

 

This was a ghost print of a previous attempt, which looked promising until the block dislodged on registration. I carried on and printed a ghost print of the text after I’d realised, just to experiment. It’s a shame but it still wouldn’t have been the one I chose.

 

 

 

 

 

Opposites Attract - Reprint of text misaligned

Opposites Attract – Reprint of text misaligned

 

This was a contender even with the misaligned text down the edge. In the tradition of going with happy accidents, I pasted some collage paper over the initial text print and then reprinted the word “attract”. This came out a little misaligned, however, it gave the impression of 3D letters, which I liked. I continued and added the blue tissue and copper leaf circles, however, I felt the colours and tones were too similar.

 

 

 

Opposites Attract - Unsure how to proceed

Opposites Attract – Unsure how to proceed

 

This one I still like. The yellow hand-made paper over the entire printed layers of circles, gave it subtly. When I came to print the text, it did not print very clearly so I ran it through the press again, which gave it a blurred effect. I found some lighter hand-made paper and pasted this over the text but this sent the lettering back a little too much. To counteract this, I added the printed dark blue circles. I was pleased with it except it needed something else in contrast and I wasn’t sure what to do next. This one is in limbo.

 

 

Never Ending - smudged ink

Never Ending – smudged ink

 

I was very disappointed when this went wrong. I had carefully added the collage aspects and printed on top successfully. I then saw that it needed a contrast and used the yellow ink to mask in some circular pattern, however, when pulling away the print, I realised that because the previous print ink was still too wet, it had smudged. I did consider continuing with it and using a window mount up to the print but I felt this would be unsatisfactory.

 

 

 

Parallel Lives - collage paper ripped

Parallel Lives – collage paper ripped

 

I was pleased with the outcome of this apart from a novice error with the press.  Forgetting that the collagraph block was thicker than the  perspex mono print block previously used, I omitted to adjust the pressure on the press. I tried to do this mid print but it wasn’t having any of it and on pulling away the print paper, I found that the tissue collage paper had ripped. I tried to tell myself that it added more texture but it wouldn’t wash. I also considered that there was too much dark for the text to print over, so recreated the block with slight adjustments and it worked better.

 

 

Four Prints in a Series

Series of Four Prints

Series of Four Prints

Once the prints are thoroughly dry, I will separate them with newsprint and weight them down to flatten them.  I think on the whole they have been successful and sit well together. I tried to keep the colours consistent although a couple of contrasting elements have helped each be individual but still work together.

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Project 12: Collatype Collage Prints

Project 12: Collatype Collage Prints

09/05-20/06/17

For this project you will be working towards a series of representational images.

Over the time my previous assignment was in transit and with my tutor for feedback, I began thinking about what subject I would like to tackle for this project. Many things were in the news at the time not least the effects of climate change and the continual, nonsensical 140 character ramblings of the new president of America.  This one particular morning, the two collided once again, and the short-sighted lust for dollars over having a sustainable planet for the future of humankind hit the headlines. I had my subject.

I had an initial image in my head of a corporate “suit” lugging a sack of coal (much like the coal men of my rural youth – who used to deliver to our house every month), through a devastated landscape. The value of the coal far outweighing the value of his surroundings in his perception.

This is how I began to thrash out my ideas in my sketchbook. I explored variations on this theme, morphing the dollar sign, using little, round, suited businessmen, adding text etc and kept coming back to this one man who has the audacity to abuse his dubiously acquired power.  It became clear that one image would not sufficiently describe where I was heading. I had a rough vision of the decimated landscape, however, I had to bring “him” in to it too! I started researching and put out a Google search for “smug images of Donald Trump” and was presented with several pages full! As in the public domain, and as my final choice as source material did not have a photographer noted, I am unable to give him or her acknowledgement. I made a few sketches and realised that I needed to simplify the image considerably to have a chance of making it work as a collatype block. See sketchbook pages below:

Developing an idea for Project 12 Collatype print in sketchbook

Developing an idea for Project 12 Collatype print in sketchbook

Further development and notes for climate change image

Further development and notes for climate change image

The decision to create a series of three images to describe my theme - thumbnails and notes

The decision to create a series of three images to describe my theme – thumbnails and notes

 

 

 

 

 

 

Work on the simplification of the image and how to create the print blocks

Work on the simplification of the image and how to create the print blocks

How to create the blocks for my images and scale up to 24x32cm size

How to create the blocks for my images and scale up to 24x32cm size

For the second image - how the layers would look with portrait beneath the landscape

For the second image – how the layers would look with portrait beneath the landscape

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once I had the thumbnails finalised for my three images and had squared them up, I then had to enlarge the scale of each to 24x32cm ie four times the size of the thumbnails. Enlarging the images to this size on paper made it easier to see them in a simplified way and to consider the collage materials that may work from which to print.

The images were then traced and transferred to the same sized card with which I could make each print block. Once these were ready, I then returned to my sketchbook to explore the collage materials that would create the shapes, layers, textures and tones required. From working through each image in my sketchbook, I decided to have texture and tone evident in both the first (portrait) and third (landscape) print block, and due to the two layers, chose to use varying line thicknesses to create a cleaner effect in block 2. Using the test block created in Project 11 to guide my choices, I stuck my selections in my sketchbook. I was initially going to create a page per block, but I seemed to gain sufficient knowledge for each and could use similar materials for all of them, although I kept to different thread and strings for number 2. Once the collage of each block was complete, I fixed the reversed tracings on the wall, along with a pencil rubbing of the portrait as this was the trickiest to visualise. See below:

Enlarged drawing of image 1 - portrait

Enlarged drawing of image 1 – portrait

Enlarged drawing of image 2 - landscape layered over portrait

Enlarged drawing of image 2 – landscape layered over portrait

Enlarged drawing of image 3 - landscape of climate change

Enlarged drawing of image 3 – landscape of climate change

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exploring collage materials in sketchbook

Exploring collage materials in sketchbook

Pencil rubbing of collage materials that may be used

Pencil rubbing of collage materials that may be used

All three print blocks completed with collage

All three print blocks completed with collage

 

 

 

 

 

Print block 1 - Portrait with collage applied

Print block 1 – Portrait with collage applied

Print block 2 - Landscape layered over Portrait with collage applied

Print block 2 – Landscape layered over Portrait with collage applied

Print block 3 - Landscape of Climate Change with collage applied

Print block 3 – Landscape of Climate Change with collage applied

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reversed transfer tracings fixed to wall for reference

Reversed transfer tracings fixed to wall for reference

Reversed transfer tracings fixed to wall and sketchbook for reference

Reversed transfer tracings fixed to wall and sketchbook for reference

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once the print blocks were complete, I set about researching inking techniques to achieve the images I envisaged. I took my time here as I suspected this would be almost the most crucial element for success. The books I looked through are as below, along with my thoughts prior to printing my images:

Printmaking Handbook – Collagraphs and Mixed Media Printing by Brenda Harthill and Richard Clarke 
ISBN 978-0-7136-6396-9

I was interested in the blind printing or embossing techniques as one layer of print. This would add a 3D effect that may help delineate shapes – particularly for the portrait and combined images.

It was also noted how weak colour can enhance a sculptural effect. Some of these ideas can be tried out using newsprint first, although, I would imagine that thicker paper may be more successful for blind printing. In particular, for the third image in the series – the environment post climate change – would benefit from the rubbing of weak ink into the blocks – using blues/greens/grey-blacks for atmosphere and texture combinations.

Learning Linocut by Susan Yeates ISBN 978-0-7552-1330-6

Referencing particularly the inking techniques and tips on page 73 onwards.

Rainbow rolling – alluded to in the course materials also. this may be an additional method to add interest to the combined image (block 2). Considering using “blind printing” then overlaying with rainbow rolling. Other tips were dabbing much smaller areas with a cotton bud – also with homemade dabbers or scrim/muslin pads.

Results of experiments:

I experimented quickly with newsprint, taking a blind print of each block. They rendered unremarkable results, probably due to the thin paper which creased very easily. Using a swatch of the print paper I intended to use for two of the prints, one dry and one damp, I obtained better results. The best being with the dampened paper. Although I am not convinced that it will add anything to these particular images. Using the cartridge paper – the dry paper was nondescript, however, the dampened cartridge was much more successful, shower finer embossed details.

I had intended to use smooth, ivory Somerset printing paper for the middle image which will effectively be linear rather than tonal as it overlays two images. My thinking being  that the paper would add another element to the print. It also appears less processed and bleached – giving the impression of being environmentally friendly – as I have limited choice and I have never made my own paper before – it would have been nice to use recycled paper I made myself, maybe another time. For the other two more textured and tonal prints, I intend to use the cartridge paper which performed well in the experimental blind prints.

Inking of Blocks

I prepared my ink plate taking into consideration what I had learnt and researched, taking each block in order. I prepared trial swatches of colour mixes for each and kept them available for reference for each inking of the blocks. See photos below:

Swatches of blind print experiments with different papers

Swatches of blind print experiments with different papers

Colour palette for the portrait print

Colour palette for the portrait print

Colour palette the linear layered print

Colour palette the linear layered print

 

 

 

 

 

Colour palette the landscape print

Colour palette the landscape print

 

 

 

 

 

All printing paper had been soaked and blotted to achieve a damp surface for printing.

The specification of the colours to use were merely a starting point, and it became obvious that using a roller to apply the ink for both the portrait and the landscape were not an option. Instead, homemade ink dabbers, pieces of rag/muslin and cotton buds were used for adding and wiping away ink to help achieve depth, translucency and tone as required. Coincidentally, four prints were taken from each block, each of which were scrutinised and analysed to adjust the inking for the subsequent prints. It was noted, especially after the experiments with blind printing, just how much pressure was needed in specific areas to achieve a successful result. The outcome being, a print that was also embossed without a separate blind print. Only once did I re-register a print to add additional ink, that being the portrait (number 4 print I believe), this served to make me realise that doing this was a risk I didn’t want to take.

It was extremely hard work ensuring that the correct pressure was applied to each pull of the print and it did make me wonder if using a press with the softness of a “blanket” combined with a mechanical pressure would have been physically “easier” and more controllable. However, I did feel very connected to each result with the effort I had put into it.

Below are photographs of each print per block with associated self critique and notes taken at the time.

Portrait Image:

Portrait image - print 1

Print 1 – Improvements : work dark to light, hair needs more dark for depth, shadows more brown/black, top lip should be darker than bottom, more orange on the ear, more dark above collar and under eyebrows

Print 2 - Improvements: More yellow on hair and eyebrows, more orange on edge of face, ensure ink is pressed into lines, more dark on gauze around eyes, darken top lip, leave middle of lower lip white

Print 2 – Improvements: More yellow on hair and eyebrows, more orange on edge of face, ensure ink is pressed into lines, more dark on gauze around eyes, darken top lip, leave middle of lower lip white

Print 3 - Improvements: Need to balance the yellow of hair and brows with dark, some definition lost along with the smug expression, needs more pressure on printing

Print 3 – Improvements: Need to balance the yellow of hair and brows with dark, some definition lost along with the smug expression, needs more pressure on printing

Print 4 - Improvements: Expression and definition still allusive, second layer of printing had unsuccessful re-registration

Print 4 – Improvements: Expression and definition still allusive, second layer of printing had unsuccessful re-registration

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Combined Image:.

Print 1 - Improvements: Felt the stripes of colour did not help to define the image, does it bring the two layers together too much? Consider using the mid blue for the portrait and the purple black for the landscape

Print 1 – Improvements: Felt the stripes of colour did not help to define the image, does it bring the two layers together too much? Consider using the mid blue for the portrait and the purple-black for the landscape

Print 2 - Improvements: not sure if this is saying what I want. It works ok but I feel it separates the images too much

Print 2 – Improvements: not sure if this is saying what I want. It works OK but I feel it separates the images too much

Print 3 - Improvements: using one dark colour, brings the images together but the registration has slipped blurring the lines, print again with more care

Print 3 – Improvements: using one dark colour, brings the images together but the registration has slipped blurring the lines, print again with more care

Print 4 - Improvements: All one dark colour, happy with print but need to decide which version works best for my intended series.

Print 4 – Improvements: All one dark colour, happy with print but need to decide which version works best for my intended series.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Climate Change Landscape:

Print 1 - Improvements: Happy with colours, more dark over the cloud texture, more consistent pressure when printing, ice caps need more ice blue as the texture describes the shapes, sea needs to a distinct colour from the foreground, trees need more solidity and definition to their edges - simplify, define with consistent pressure

Print 1 – Improvements: Happy with colours, more dark over the cloud texture, more consistent pressure when printing, ice caps need more ice blue as the texture describes the shapes, sea needs to a distinct colour from the foreground, trees need more solidity and definition to their edges – simplify, define with consistent pressure

Print 2 - Improvements: compared to print 1, the background is too dark, make paler and graduate dark down to foreground, here icecaps are more successful for being simpler, dark water line works in both, distant water is too dark and should mirror the sky, the foreground needs even more colour contrast to water

Print 2 – Improvements: compared to print 1, the background is too dark, make paler and graduate dark down to foreground, here icecaps are more successful for being simpler, dark water line works in both, distant water is too dark and should mirror the sky, the foreground needs even more colour contrast to water

Print 3 - Improvements: Very close, more solidity on the tree trunks achieved now need more in the foreground, try to obtain more variation in the sea colour/tone and definition around the ice caps again as in print 2

Print 3 – Improvements: Very close, more solidity on the tree trunks achieved now need more in the foreground, try to obtain more variation in the sea colour/tone and definition around the ice caps again as in print 2

Print 4 - I think I have achieved the best I can although the right hand tree is a little less defined, this does, however, give it a more rotted appearance

Print 4 – I think I have achieved the best I can although the right hand tree is a little less defined, this does, however, give it a more rotted appearance

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, from these twelve prints I must choose the best from each set to complete my series of three. After completing all of these, they were hung on their drying line so that I could view them from a distance as a group. My choices will be explained and shown within my critical statement for Assignment 4.

 

Project 11: Making a Test Collage Block

Project 11: Making a Test Collage Block

19-26/04/17

To make your test collage block  you will be using a different material in each of the 16 sections you have marked out. 

My first challenge was to source PVA glue on the island – from the blank faces it was evident that this does not exist here. Luckily, during my abstract classes, we create collages as “sketchbook” work and we use a rough equivalent called Alkyd Sellador which is sold in DIY shops here. It is an acrylic sealant for walls etc but can be used neat as a glue or diluted and tinted as a glaze etc. It pretty much smells like PVA and is perfect for my purpose.

I have already collected many bits and bobs for collage although, I haven’t used many in anger as yet. I also noted that items such as pins and nails had been used in the course book example so went on the hunt for more everyday items to include.

Using a piece of mount board, (the natural wastage of the aperture centre from mounting paintings) as my block, I marked out 16 sections and covered it with Sellador. To make the sections obvious I placed strips of string to demarcate the borders. The items I decided to use as my textures were:

  1. Double stripped fabric trim
  2. Textured knitting yarn
  3. Wide gauge embroidery mesh
  4. Gauze bandage
  5. Ribbon
  6. Bubble wrap
  7. Netting from supermarket fruit
  8. Torn handmade paper with frayed edges
  9. Random buttons
  10. Dress making pins
  11. Strips of dried spaghetti
  12. Porridge oats
  13. Long grain rice
  14. Florists’ Winter Fauna
  15. Gardeners’ potting grit
  16. Broken egg shells

Once these were stuck down in the sections, I applied two coats of sealant (diluted Sellador) and left it to thoroughly dry.

I used heavy weight, hot pressed water-colour paper, torn to size, soaked and blotted as my print paper. Having already decided to try both relief and intaglio type printing from researching contemporary printmakers such as Ruth Barrett-Danes, I made two prints of each kind in both monotone and multi colour ways.

 

The first set of four prints, were taken with black oil based ink (Sakura Oil Printing Colour), two as a relief print and the other two with the block inked all over and wiping off most of the ink from raised collage.

 

The second set of prints was taken after cleaning off the most of the black ink, letting the remainder dry and then resealing. These prints were multi-coloured. The first was mainly different colours on each section with a couple having a mixture and was a combination of relief and intaglio. With the second, I reused the same block and ink but tried to unify the entire block by dabbing a dark blue wavy line of ink across all sections. The third print, again reused the previous inking with an additional lighter blue, but unfortunately, the paper moved during printing and a “double vision” effect occurred. With the fourth print, most of the previous ink was wiped off and then stripes of different colours were dabbed horizontally across the entire block to again unify the sections and return to a relief type print.

 

With the use of the same test block, many different looking prints have been produced by rollering, wiping, dab printing and using black and coloured inks in different ways. This has been a fun and informative exercise for future projects.  The hardest part for me, was having the patience to wait between layers of sealant and glue to dry but this was rewarded by the results. I am looking forward to more experimentation and applying what I have learnt to finished piece of work.

When it comes to submitting my assignment, I think I would choose the following two prints to put forward – at the moment!

The print where the block has a deeper covering of ink with it wiped off from the collage items appears to have more tone and depth and, to me, is more solid.

Second attempt at intaglio printing with the test block thoroughly inked and wiped - sharper print

Second attempt at intaglio printing with the test block thoroughly inked and wiped – sharper print

 

The coloured print, where each section is separated, is cleaner and has a mixture of relief and wiped methods, therefore, I think it shows more of the versatility of the process. It was a tough decision though, as I did like the attempts at unifying the sections with colour too.

Mix of relief and intaglio printing in multi colours from test block

Mix of relief and intaglio printing in multi colours from test block

 

Research Point: Collagraphs/Collatypes

18/04/17

Research Point: Collagraphs/Collatypes

Before you embark on this interesting project, take look at what others have achieved using a relief collage as a starting point. Trawl through some examples of collagraphs/collatypes (same thing) online, pick out some favourites and write about them in your learning log.

As I have very limited knowledge of the technique and process of collagraphs, I decided to research some artists first and then move to their work. This way I have learnt how they created their images as well as just viewing them.

Stefan Barton http://www.collagraphs.com/

Stefan is a German artist who now resides in the USA.

From his website, I am intrigued by the “other worldly” appearance he has achieved in many of his prints. the layers of colour and the textures are mesmerising. They make me think of Dr Who type science fiction sets. I like the way different prints from the same block each have their own identity depending on the colours used and the way some are more defined than others because of the colours. I can see how both relief and intaglio techniques have been brought together in one print.

Sue Brown http://suebrownprintmaker.blogspot.com.es/p/gallery_31.html

Looking through Sue’s blog and website, she produces totally different images of birds and animals but retains texture and painterly effect for the backgrounds. The main subjects themselves though, have a clarity and detail that is impressive. She also prints successfully on fabric to make many items including cushions and lampshades, demonstrating the versatility of print.

Tessa Horrocks http://www.tessahorrocks.com/Print_pages/mr_frog.html

Again, like Sue, the themes seem to reflect around the natural world. From clean, precise studies of pebbles in differing colourways to micro-organism influenced images. I personally prefer the more monochrome, textured and tonal abstract prints. there is more depth to them and they stand many repeat viewings. I find they are more emotive and pleasing to me eg Little Worlds, and the And Breathe series.

On the whole, I am beginning to move to preferring the more abstract images, rather than those that are purely representational as the textures, shapes and reproduction techniques lend themselves well to being more obscure. This may well be also because of the abstract painting lessons I have been attending over the last few weeks, in that I am seeing things differently and feeling more connection to a piece of work that I like.