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.

Assignment One – Part One Introducing Monoprints

06/05/15

Assignment One – Part One Introducing Monoprints

Reflection against Assessment Criteria Points:

  • Demonstration of Technical and Visual Skills – materials, techniques, observational skills, visual awareness, design and compositional skills
    I initially struggled with the water-based inks, particularly the black, to make a strong enough print. I have since read, that dampening the paper may help with this. Something to try. I am enjoying the design aspect of printmaking and composition, I feel has been a strength in previous OCA courses. I have been keen to try as many techniques as I can and think I am starting to get a feel for what to use when. My observational skills are improving all the time from my working from life in other classes such as life drawing and portrait painting.
  • Quality of Outcome – content, application of knowledge, presentation of work in a coherent manner, discernment, conceptualisation of thoughts, communication of ideas
    I seem to be going through a cycle of having the ideas but not being able to achieve them, to gaining more skill and losing the ideas, to just beginning to realise some ideas and being more imaginative. In Drawing 1, I was pushed to loosen up and be more expressive, through Painting 1, there was a distinct journey where my ideas were becoming more creative and although not always as I envisaged started to make sense and become more of a conversation with the viewer rather than just a pretty picture. Here, I am loving the sense of not being in control, even though I think I am, yet I can not truly determine what will appear when a print is taken. I think my presentation has improved dramatically throughout the beginning of the course. I am of course slightly glossing over the last mishap in Project 4.
  • Demonstration of Creativity – imagination, experimentation, invention, development of a personal voice
    I think choosing to do this course was the best thing I could have done. Printmaking is new to me and as such, I feel I can try anything and just see what happens. When I have time, as in the Still Life/Abstract in Project 4, I felt that the possibilities were endless and learnt such a lot. I don’t think I could have produced the other three works in one day, without the 2 days I spent on one. I feel my creativity will develop much further with trying printmaking and it will influence my painting and drawing and vice versa.
  • Context – reflection, research, critical thinking (learning log)
    I have always kept a comprehensive learning log, sometimes, I have been told, too much so. Therefore, I have tried to be more succinct in what I write and try to illustrate points with images. I have found the research more challenging as I am not as familiar with printmakers as painters for example. However, the more I research, the more I see the cross-over between artists and that I probably know more of them than I think.

Overall, I am really enjoying learning something new, especially as I can draw on what I have already learnt. I didn’t realise the versatility that printmaking gives and am looking forward to trying out more new techniques.

 

Work Selected for Assignment One

Task 1

Task 2

 

Task 3

 

Task 4

 

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 https://uk.pinterest.com/ginaemmett/monoprints-with-back-drawing/

 

Project 3: Two Coloured Masked Monoprints

18 & 19/04/16

Two Coloured Masked Monoprints

In this project you will continue to use your masks from the previous section, both positive and negative, to make a two-coloured print.

First attempt at two coloured monoprint - lots of lessons! Oil based ink on cartridge paper.

First attempt at two coloured monoprint – lots of lessons! Oil based ink on cartridge paper.

Method of two colour print:

  • Select two contrasting ink colours
  • Select which colour for each positive and negative print
  • Have two clean printing plates ready
  • Ink one plate with positive print colour and the second with negative print colour to suit mask size (A3)
  • Lay negative mask on colour that will have the positive print (blue)
  • Lay positive mask on colour that will have the negative print (yellow)
  • Take negative print first (background colour yellow), lay printing paper over mask, ensuring the registration creases are prominent from the plate
  • Take the print and carefully remove
  • Line up the printed paper on the positive blue inked printing plate correlating the registration marks with the edge of the plate
  • Take the print and carefully remove the paper

All seemed well except for a couple of crucial points:

  • I was not at all sure how to accurately line up the negative and positive masks on their corresponding printing plates so that the image would match – so they didn’t by some way
  • I forgot to clean up the inked edges before printing

As the positive and negative masks were so out of alignment that I was definitely going to have to try again, I removed both masks and reprinted both colours on top, again using the registration marks so at least the ink would correlate. Initially, I thought “what a mess!” although since, in a strange way, I quite like the effect although it could be somewhat neater. Anyway – take two…

The main issue to address was the alignment of the negative and positive masks on their corresponding printing plates. I decided to mark the A3 paper size on the reverse of each plate with masking tape so I could align the top right corners of the negative mask and a piece of A3 paper on the plate that would be for the positive mask. The main problem was placing the positive mask in the correct place as there were no landmarks to use. I then realised that if I tape another negative mask of the same design against the A3 markers underneath the glass printing plate, I could then align the positive mask to the negative. This would ensure that the positive and negative prints were matching – as in the below photographs before I get any more confused!

Positive Printing Plate - Masking tape underneath the printing plate, marking the top right corner to help place A3 negative mask on top.

Positive Printing Plate – Masking tape underneath the printing plate, marking the top right corner to help place A3 negative mask on top.

Negative Printing Plate - Masking tape marks top right corner for A3 negative mask to be taped underneath the plate to aid positioning the positive mask.

Negative Printing Plate – Masking tape marks top right corner for A3 negative mask to be taped underneath the plate to aid positioning the positive mask.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once all the alignment guides were in place, I could again ink the plates with the appropriate colours and take the two coloured prints as intended.

Two coloured monoprint using positive and negative masks in contrasting colours. A3 print on A2 medium weight cartridge paper.

Two coloured monoprint using positive and negative masks in contrasting colours. A3 print on A2 medium weight cartridge paper.

Second pull of two coloured monoprint using positive and negative masks in contrasting colours. A3 print on A2 medium weight cartridge paper.

Second pull of two coloured monoprint using positive and negative masks in contrasting colours. A3 print on A2 medium weight cartridge paper.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Very pleased with this attempt after such an abject disaster initially. The blue ink on the first pull could have been a bit more consistent and there are a couple of dots of blue where they shouldn’t be, but generally not too bad. The second pull, although fainter seems to have eliminated the previous two issues.

Next I reversed the colour-way for a contrasting print.

Two coloured monoprint using positive and negative masks in contrasting colours. A3 print on A2 medium weight cartridge paper.

Two coloured monoprint using positive and negative masks in contrasting colours. A3 print on A2 medium weight cartridge paper.

Second pull of two coloured monoprint using positive and negative masks in contrasting colours. A3 bleed print on A3 light weight blank newsprint paper.

Second pull of two coloured monoprint using positive and negative masks in contrasting colours. A3 bleed print on A3 light weight blank newsprint paper.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With the first print, the medium weight cartridge paper was used again and positive mask (negative print) again produced a chunkier horse silhouette, which combined with the lighter positive image against the dark background, made for a more heavy-looking shape. However, on the second pull, having received my newsprint paper, the lighter weight paper slimmed down the negative print (positive mask) so much it was fairly bang on matching. This has proven my theory that for a positive mask, the thinner printing paper moulds to the contours of the shape much better.

I decided to carry on and choose another design to work on, plus being smaller ie A4 and to use the A3 newsprint as printing paper.

Two coloured monoprint - A4 size printed on A3 newsprint

Two coloured monoprint – A4 size printed on A3 newsprint

Second pull of two coloured monoprint - A4 size printed on A3 newsprint

Second pull of two coloured monoprint – A4 size printed on A3 newsprint

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The above are two prints using two colours as before but as the size was A4 printed on A3 it was less cumbersome in practice, plus using the lighter weight newsprint as the print paper, the distinction of the positive mask in particular was much more defined.

 

Graduated background of yellow and red with third colour positive print. A4 on A3 newsprint

Graduated background of yellow and red with third colour positive print. A4 on A3 newsprint

Reworked ink on graduated background of yellow and red with third colour positive print. A4 on A3 newsprint

Reworked ink on graduated background of yellow and red with third colour positive print. A4 on A3 newsprint

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The idea here was to mix yellow into the red ink to achieve a sunset effect. This almost worked except the amount of ink at the top where the colours were mixed was more concentrated and unfortunately the neat red ink at the bottom of the print was less dense and looked a little patchy in comparison. The second print, where more of the red was added had the opposite effect as the yellow was lost.  The other issue I came across here was that the mixed colours were too thick and squishy and, as I lifted the print paper away, it also pulled off the mask as it had stuck to the print paper also. This was just an experiment and could work if more care was taken to mix the colours properly rather than relying on the roller to do this.

Lessons Learnt:

  • When using larger print paper and two or more printing plates, clear all superfluous items from your workspace – trying to control the paper, align prints and avoid contamination is not helped by clutter around the area
  • Forethought in preparation to register the prints and align masks on separate printing plates is key to success
  • Consider appropriate paper weights for desired results
  • Clean around printing plate to remove excess ink
  • Think, plan, print!

 

Project 2: Positive and Negative Masked Monoprints

12/04/16

Positive and Negative Masked Monoprints

This project explores the use of paper masks to make monoprints. This technique involves creating a design which works well as both a positive and negative shape.

 

I explored some ideas for designs in my sketchbook. All of these would work as a positive shape, however, it became obvious that more thought must be applied for these designs to work in the negative. The paper, when the positive shape had been cut out, must work as a connected whole and not have internal shapes that would not be attached. This eliminated the dog and the figure design. After looking at the pros and cons of each, which are noted next to the sketches, I decided on the rearing horse shape. I also decided to work in an A3 related size and to print on A2 paper with a border, the paper being medium weight cartridge.

Chosen design - positive and negative masks

Chosen design – positive and negative masks

After squaring up my initial sketch onto A3 lightweight card, I cut out the design to produce a negative and positive shape of the horse to use as a template for my paper masks.

From this I drew around the positive shape onto several sheets of thinner paper and then used scissors to cut out the shape. This left me with several positive and negative masks ready to use.

 

 

We were asked to use the negative mask initially, ie the background with the positive shape removed. I inked the plate with black oil based ink, placed the mask down ready for printing. Using a medium weight cartridge paper in A2 I positioned the printing paper as centrally as I could and then applied pressure to help the ink adhere. Carefully peeling off the paper to reveal the print. This was repeated with the same mask and a clean sheet of printing paper to reveal a fainter print and then the mask was removed and a third print taken.

 

I was fairly pleased with the above results, however, I noticed that the mask was a little smaller than the inked area on the first print, which resulted in an unwanted line at the bottom. I placed a piece of paper on that area before taking the second print to avoid this. The other observation on the first print, was that not enough pressure had been applied to ear area of the horse so this was indistinct. I tried to address this in the next pull of the print.

We were asked to repeat the exercise with a contrasting colour so I used red oil based ink this time.

 

Observations this time were that the first pull was successful in that it was a distinct print with a clean background, the second was fairly good apart from an inconsistent pressure being applied to take the print and the third, without the mask, had a few blotchy patches of ink in the background, the outline of the horse was nice and clear.

The next exercise was to use the positive mask in the same way, contrasting colours, an initial print, a ghost print and a print with the mask removed in each colour.

 

This was interesting as the results were quite different, particularly considering that the positive mask was made from the same piece of paper as the previous negative one. Generally, in all three prints from the positive mask, the horse was much thicker set – think sturdy hunter as opposed to sleek stallion! I had also wiped too much ink away at the edges and made the printing area too tight to fit the mask comfortably giving the prints a cropped down appearance. I also thought I had not put enough pressure at the mask’s edges to give a distinct print and tried rectify this in the second pull. It did not make a lot of difference and I put it down to the thickness of the printing paper being too much to allow the moulding around the masked shape. Unfortunately, at this time I had no other suitable paper available to me, although I had some blank newsprint on order.

I made some further positive mask prints with a contrasting colour, also trying to address the issues I had identified previously.

 

 

Fourth pull on brown wrapping paper in blue oil based ink but with mask removed

Fourth pull on brown wrapping paper in blue oil based ink but with mask removed

Again, coming across the same challenges in the blue prints as with the red, I found out some brown wrapping paper. This paper being a little thinner and a different texture, I thought I’d give it a try. It didn’t really address the moulding around the positive mask as it had already been removed. I used the less shiny side of the paper to take a ghost print of the plate with the mask removed.

Not sure what this proved, other than it’s another option for printing paper. It did, however, test my patience as the paper had been previously rolled which made it a little unwieldy in execution! I think I will have to wait for my newsprint to arrive to fully test the paper weight theory.

 

 

 

How did you find this process?

I enjoyed this and found it mostly straight forward although I made observations and learnt lessons as detailed below.

Did your ink dry too quickly and not print evenly or was it easy to achieve a smooth print?

Using oil based inks for this project was a complete game changer. On previous projects I only had water-based inks available to me and whereas, in the main they worked fine, I always had trouble with the black ink not printing solidly and distinctly. The black oil-based ink produced a beautifully solid, clean print in comparison. I followed instructions in applying a couple of drops of linseed oil to mix in and loosen the consistency, although I did forget once (with the first use of red ink) and although it didn’t affect the few prints I took with it, I think it would have shortened the working time if I had continued with it.

Does your image work well in both its positive and negative forms?

Yes I think it does, this was a major factor in choosing which design to use as per my notes in my sketchbook and above. It seems easier if thinking only of the positive shapes, it takes more thought for a successful outcome in the negative as all aspects have to be connected as a whole.

Lessons Learnt:

  • Keep designs simple and consider both negative and positive shapes
  • Consider the size of the print – I may have been too ambitious at A3 for my limited skill
  • Do not take design too close to the border’s edge or the negative mask becomes unstable and can distort when applying to the printing plate
  • I found the negative mask easier to handle if kept whole and cut out with a blade rather than cutting in from the edge with scissors
  • Check the printing area does not extend further than the mask as this will print – mask with additional paper strips to keep border clean of ink
  • Before placing printing paper onto plate, ensure there are no dots, blobs or smudges of ink on the mask itself or this will print – depending on the size of the contamination I found a scrap of paper or masking tape placed on top would keep the print clean or remove and use a fresh mask
  • Ensure you have enough masks to address the previous point or for the number of prints required
  • Keep templates for future use
  • Ensure inked area is sufficient for the mask (particularly positive ones)
  • Consider the thickness of the printing paper to ensure distinct edges for positive masks
  • Consider the pressure used for making the print, if a solid print is required, the pressure should be consistent
  • Keep hands and work area clean
Negative mask print in red oil based ink

Negative mask print in red oil based ink

Further Painted Prints

04/04/16

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

Further painted prints of figure - sketchbook prep

Further painted prints of figure – sketchbook prep

 

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.

Further painted prints of figure -Figure A Print 3

Further painted prints of figure – Figure A Print 3

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.

Lying Pose

Further painted prints of figure - sketchbook prep

Further painted prints of figure – sketchbook prep

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:

Apple Tree

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.

Further painted prints - Tree and Landscape sketchbook prep

Further painted prints – Tree and Landscape sketchbook prep

 

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.

Further painted prints - Tree Print 4

Further painted prints – Tree Print 4

 

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.

Further painted prints - Landscape Tree Print 3

Further painted prints – Landscape Tree Print 3

 

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.