Tutor Feedback – Assignment Five

Tutor Feedback – Assignment Five

06/11/17

Response and Reflection on Assignment Five

I have taken excerpts from my tutor’s report that reflect areas for improvement and/or suggestions for research and/or experimentation. My responses and reflections are noted beneath each.

Overall Comments

“…You are technically very able and show great potential as a printmaking. I hope its something you will continue with.”

Funnily enough, I was so relieved to finish the last project due to a looming deadline, I thought I’d enjoy a break from printmaking. It turns out, I’m really missing it. I keep thinking of new themes to work on. I really feel as if I will be actively looking for ways in which to include an element of printmaking into my future course work and personal projects. I have also been gifted a small die cut machine that doubles as a press for up to A4, and longer if I make an extended base, therefore, I have no excuse not to continue to incorporate printmaking in my work.

Feedback on Assignment

Demonstration of Technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of Creativity

Task 1 (Project 13)

“I’m unsure if you need all the text, perhaps the only word you require is ‘greed’.You have to leave something for the viewer to imagine. Sometimes less is more!”

With this particular image, I was quite excited by the idea of using text as the tower blocks being cleared away. I don’t think the actual result was quite as I had envisaged and this may have prompted this opinion from my tutor. I do, however, understand that I sometimes do over think and subsequently over do the explanation. I had similar feedback on Project 15, which I respond to below.

Task 2 (Project 14)

“These are beautiful little chine colle prints. This is an incredibly difficult process to master and you have technically very able work.

The composition of the shapes, colour text and chine colle had led to sophisticated imagery.

I enjoy the fact they are more ambiguous on first inspection. Again you are referencing your personal voice and working out your approach made evident in your sketchbook.

Collage may be something you wish to explore further, it may help you to place images and text together to explore new ideas and composition further.”

I have included this feedback, as although, there is only the encouragement to push the incorporation of  collage further, I want to remember the success of the ambiguity of text and shape. To remember not to give too much information and allow the viewer to make their own interpretations. A very valid point that I need to absorb for future work.

Task 3 (Project 15)

“This task sees you pushing personal voice further. Your imagery is referencing political posters, propaganda and protest art.

The linocut of Putin is very much in the style of Roy Bizley’s political linocuts.”

http://www.leicesterprintworkshop.com/exhibitions-and-projects/exhibitions/woodcuts_by_roy_bizley/

I was not aware of Roy Bizley and so have researched him and his work as suggested. Unfortunately, there are few images online except for John Major, Edwina Curry and I believe Kenneth Baker. I can see the similarities, although Roy Bizley caricatured these portraits, which I was trying to avoid. These images prove how powerful printmaking can be to push home a point when in skilled hands.

“The people’s history museum has a great collect of posters.

http://www.phm.org.uk/our-collection/introduction-to-our-collections/ “

The banners and posters within the People’s History Museum is fascinating. As well as the overtly party political posters, I was drawn to the “This is Hull” anti-racism 1979-1982 examples. The strong colours and textual imagery are very powerful. Perusing their website was frustrating as it hinted at so many great images. I love where I live now but this is one of the main drawbacks of inhabiting a small volcanic island off of the African coast. We have a lively arts and crafts culture and community here, however, I miss out on the wider choice of viewing – at least I have the internet!

“Your bravery and approach to making meaning artwork is to be applauded. The lino of Putin is well cut. I’m unsure if you need all the text. Would the image be stronger if it said ‘ From Russia with?’ This would leave something for the viewer to reflect upon further.

All the images may have benefited from further drawing and working out especially with the quantity of text. Maybe the only word you needed on each image is power?

This work is certainly ambitious and exciting. I believe it poses many questions for you about the kind of work you want to make.”

I really wish I’d thought of the “From Russia with ?” !!! However, I was researching Putin’s influence and consequences and came across a photograph of a poster from a demonstration with Putin’s face made up as if in drag, the rainbow and those words. As my tutor points out, maybe if I had taken more time to draw it all out prior to committing, this sort of thing may have been more obvious. It really does drive it home, that there is a fine line between planning and naturally evolving a piece of work.  Again, any text has to be relevant yet not specifically spelling out meaning – I need to leave something for the viewer to become involved with – or they will just walk by. I have learned that myself, as I like to keep looking at artwork and keep seeing more.

Sketchbooks

Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Demonstration of Creativity

“Your sketchbook has continued to be used as an integral document throughout the course. You have combined imagery and text to really plot and plan your work. The journey through all your processes and thinking is here. You are combining thumbnails and drawing. It may help you to include more sample prints as well.

Would an A3 sketchbook help you? You feel very contained in this book especially once you started embracing more personal themes.”

Again very valid points, towards the end of the projects, I did add a couple of practice/sample prints and it made my jottings in my sketchbook more coherent. I think prior to submitting for assessment, I will see if any of these will be relevant to add retrospectively. Regarding the A3 sketchbook, I have to agree that the A4 books were beginning to constrain me and I found myself planning out on separate sheets because of this. Nothing wrong with that, but to keep everything together it is something to really consider. Beginning the Level One courses, I really enjoyed the A4 books and love the series of sketchbooks I have accumulated over the time and often look through them. However, the further I travel this degree path, I feel that they may be limiting my experimentation and flow of thought.

Learning Logs or Blogs/Critical essays
Context

“Your learning log is very well organised and easy for the reader to follow. It has developed in a reflective manner throughout the course. You are posing questions to yourself around themes and technical decision making.

Living in Lanzarote you have less access to contemporary galleries than the UK students. I recommend looking at Tate shots on you tube.”

Noted and will keep referring back to this and Youtube, thank you for the tip!

Suggested reading/viewing
Context

“Have a look at Banksy.”

This was an enjoyable and thought-provoking perusal of Banksy’s work. The images are often minimal and demonstrate what my tutor is trying to make me realise. I do not have to spell out my message explicitly, it just needs to be enough to make the viewer stop and think. If they come away with a slightly different message, then that’s fine, maybe they’ll keep coming back and depending on their circumstances will find more in the work another time. The key is to keep them looking and thinking. I can see that stencils are sometimes used and are repeated to say something different depending on the location, this is something in common with printmaking. I’ve noticed printmakers doing this before in my research, a repeated motif does not mean unoriginal work but a progression and expansion of a message or theme for example Clare Curtis repeats her forest elements regularly.

“Many artists during the 1960s and 1970s visibly opposed the Vietnam War including Ronald Haeberle, Peter Saul, Carl Andre, Norman Carlberg and Nancy Spero and produced artworks that raised awareness and called for the responsibility.”

Ronald Haeberle – When I was young the Vietnam war on the news every evening, I don’t recall anything about this, yet I can appreciate that this was a brave photographer. He did his day job by taking official army photos yet also recorded what he was witnessing on his own camera in colour. I’m sure he could have been in a lot of trouble should this have been discovered and he was instrumental in bringing evidence at subsequent Court Martials. – his pictures were truly shocking but served their purpose.

Peter Saul – activist pop art? His work is so colourful, yet as one headline says “the grotesque art of Peter Saul”, and when closely viewed, some of it really is grotesque, yet meaningful in its imagery.

Carl Andre – famous in the 70s for his brick sculpture in the Tate, he builds his sculptures on site in the exhibition space sourcing local materials. From the information I could find, I struggle to connect his work with the social commentary aspect we are discussing, however, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a relevance, maybe I just need to look harder.

Norman Carlberg – a sculptor and printmaker. He is associated with constructivism movement and I find his work very undulating and although completely man-made, it has an organic feel with curves and angles that seem natural. I found one painting relating to the Vietnam war that was credited as courtesy of Norman Carlberg, which I assume means he was the artist? It depicts a  darkened room full of caskets draped in the American flag to symbolise the lost lives of soldiers in the Vietnam war.  It does have a patriotic ambience but also a respectful one – the room itself is constructed of the US flag. Although it has the style of his sculptures, being minimalist, graphical and geometric in design, I was surprised that it was a painting.

Nancy Spero – I’m so glad my tutor has brought this artist to my attention. So many of her themes are still relevant and extremely important to me. Her war series are quick gouache and ink sketches that say so much with so little detail. Researching her, she is glibly (in my opinion) described as a feminist artist, she is so much more than that I can see from a brief overview. I will spend more time looking at her work and have found a website of her quotes about it and how she thinks. I note that she also uses text within her work.

“One of the most famous figures associated with political activism in contemporary art is certainly Ai Weiwei. Using his art to address the corruption of Chinese government and their neglect of human rights, but also other politically touchy issues, Ai Weiwei has become a synonym for disobedience. Some of his most memorable pieces are the Study of Perspective series where he took photographs of his middle finger sticking it up various monuments around the world including Tienanmen.”

Ai Weiwei – I think you cannot not have heard of Ai Weiwei. Just reading his Wikipedia page, it is difficult to believe all that has happened to him, his family and associates, and that he still finds it in himself to continue his activism and social comment. I remember watching a documentary about the Sunflower Seeds and marvelled at the fact that they are all individually made of porcelain and hand painted by Chinese artisans. I take from this the inference that we are all individuals but en mass we all look the same – so why the division – and it’s only getting worse.  Again, another artist that needs so much more research.

“Have a look at Arab Spring Graffiti.

Despite not being a coherent art movement, some of the most immediate, insightful and human art seen for some time has been produced during the Arab Spring in 2011 when protesters armed with spray cans articulated their interpretations of the uprising on the walls around them.

These are a few artists that may be of interest. Reflect on how they engage their audience with their message and how they use different methods.”

Researching Arab Spring Graffiti and Art I came across this Telling the Story of the Arab Spring: an Interactive Graffiti Map. This is fascinating and again, shows the bravery of expression, allowing views and opinions to be shared and debated openly.

Artistic activism can be so powerful and strikes fear into oppressive regimes, particularly now as the (anti-)social media explosion spreads the visual “word” far and wide. Cleverly, it need not be overt or particularly aggressive, just visible.

“Pointers for the next assignment

  • Continue your development of themes and personal voice in your artwork to give meaning to your making. Keep asking yourself what am I making work about and why.
  • Use your ability to sketch to work out imagery include biro and marker pens in your line work.
  • Keep the passion in your work.”

My tutor has pushed me to use pens and markers before in my development work and, in Project 13, I did just that. I do keep forgetting and naturally reach for a pencil, which is ok, but maybe not as expressive as other implements would be.

With this course and tutor, I feel that my personal voice, although in its infancy, is coming through. It needs refining to a well-considered point, although the occasional “rebel yell” is valuable! Inspiration for opinion based subjects is flooding into my head. Although, this is a strange and troubling time globally, it is not short of subjects, issues and reasons to speak out in visual art. I have a passion for image making and now have a vehicle through that to share my passions for social justice. This last research has empowered me to say what I think in a way that overrules my natural reticence.

 

Assignment 5: Combination Prints, Chine Colle and Further Experiments

26/10/17

Assignment 5: Combination Prints, Chine Colle and Further Experiments

Task 1 (Project 13)

Present three combination mono and linoprints. These may be printed on different types of paper and in different colour schemes.

Learning Log notes under above link.

Series of combined mono and linocut prints - 2 of 9

Series of combined mono and linocut prints – 2 of 9

 

Series of combined mono and linocut prints - 5 of 9

Series of combined mono and linocut prints – 5 of 9

Series of combined mono and linocut prints - 8 of 9

Series of combined mono and linocut prints – 8 of 9

 

Task 2 (Project 14)

Present a series of prints which incorporate chine colle techniques. They will include a variety of thin papers, metal foil and other materials. The prints will be in different colour schemes and printed on different types of paper.

Series of Four Prints

Series of Four Prints

Supporting drawings and themes can be seen in the above Learning Log link.

Task 3 (Project 15)

Present your final print series. The prints should demonstrate your choice of techniqe and materials to express your creative ideas. They may include chine colle techniques, combination methods and a range of contrasting colours, expressive marks and papers. Include your supporting statement describing your choices and impressions of your series.

Final Combination Print - Vladimir Putin

Final Combination Print – Vladimir Putin

 

Final Combination Print - Angela Merkel

Final Combination Print – Angela Merkel

 

Final Combination Print - Kim Jung-Un

Final Combination Print – Kim Jung-Un

 

Final Combination Print - Donald Trump

Final Combination Print – Donald Trump

Development work contained with the above Learning Log link.

Attached to download is my supporting statement for Project 15 including reasons for the choice of theme, processes and techniques used, challenges encountered, my opinion of the results and lessons learnt from the course. A hard copy is being submitted with physical prints.

Supporting Statement Project 15

Reflection Against Assessment Criteria

Demonstration of Technical and Visual Skills

There is an awful lot to learn in this Introduction to Printmaking and I know it only scratches the surface. I feel that my design and compositional skills are just beginning to gel in this genre, strangely I think my more abstract and experimental attempts are more successful. I say strangely, because I think I am competent at drawing, however, the more representational I try to be with my concepts, the less successful my design can be. These last two projects are so much better than Project 13, in fact I’d pushed it out of my mind and couldn’t even remember what it was until I looked again. Something I alluded to in my supporting statement is, that I have a tendency to over think the planning stage and I found taking it a step at a time and dealing with the results of the previous step was much more liberating – I had an idea of the final image but allowed myself to let it evolve and develop more organically.

Quality of Outcome

I think the presentation of my work is coherent, I had planned to the nth degree so it had to be. However, I struggled with the registration aspect of the presentation and often over-complicated things and made the process harder for myself. The final project, although I was under pressure due to time constraints and only being able to produce those four prints, I found it easier to develop the images and the care taken greatly increased the outcome.

Demonstration of Creativity

I definitely think my personal voice is developing – who knew I was so political? It was a struggle to convert passions to creativity at times, Project 13 is a good example of that. Ideas were pretty clear but my representation of those ideas were lacking. In Project 14, allowing myself to go down a more abstract road, helped enormously, it was a relief to go back to “I wonder what will happen if I do this? Or that?” Because of this, I think the prints were more creative and consequently, the creativity flowed a lot more for the more representational concept of the portraits in Project 15. In Project 15, although the general image was in my head all along, I was still pleasantly surprised by the result. As mentioned in the Supporting Statement, the series has the appearance of old fashioned propaganda posters, so they are now my propaganda posters.

Context

The required research was so valuable for this section. I was actually scared of attempting the chine colle, I just could not get my head round it. Now I think, especially where I combined my miniature paintings as collage, it is my favourite technique combined with linoprints. I don’t think I realised at the time of Project 15, that I performed a lot of research for my subjects, although an ample pinch of salt was probably required. It helped inform my designs though combining what I found out online and what I was seeing and hearing on the news. I have enjoyed referring back to my perceptions and opinions and trying to explain them in a visual way, that is also, hopefully, engaging to look at.  This has been a tough course for me technically but absolutely 100% enjoyable and valuable. I can see taking various aspects forward into my Painting degree pathway.

 

Project 15: Developing a Series of Four Combination and Experimental Prints

10 – 26/10/17

Project 15: Developing a Series of Four Combination and Experimental Prints

In this project you will be making a series of four related prints which draw on your printmaking experience during this course. The aim of this project is to demonstrate your skill in designing, printing and evaluating the printmaking process. The final prints should be of a minimum of A3 size (including borders).

Deadlines were looming ominously and I could not decide where to start, I considered themes from “hot and cold, wet and dry”, any other opposites that I could think of for an abstract series, however, they were not inspiring me. I didn’t want to just fall back on the four seasons or the four elements. I then noticed a suggestion of portraits. From there came the idea of selecting four world leaders of some sort, those that held the world order in their hands – who should I choose? Three were fairly obvious in this day and age, however, the fourth was a difficult choice. I had Trump as President of the USA, an office commonly hailed as the leader of the free world,  Kim Jong-Un of North Korea with ambitions of becoming a global nuclear power and Angela Merkel who arguably is the most dominant leader of Europe and is a connection between Russia and Western Europe, plus her influence in the climate change debate. I considered Theresa May, however, my feeling is that after Brexit, her world standing will be greatly diminished if not already. I considered the Pope, however, in this modern and increasingly secular world, is he really a game changing major player? Of course, there is Putin, even he seems to be of lesser influence. Then I considered Russia/Putin’s stage-managing by stealth, the alleged computer hacking, twisting elections, “helping” President Assad of Syria with air strikes. All these things having global consequences from beneath a veiled cloak of deceit – yes Putin was still up there! I had my theme.

I changed my process slightly, rather that going into detail of every element before starting anything, I took my development in stages. I returned to my sketchbook to adjust and flesh out ideas, and allowed myself to evolve the themes more freely. As mentioned in my notes, I had intended to add media photos as collage, however, I do not have newspapers or current affairs magazines, because, as most people do now, I obtain my news online or via TV and radio. I felt that I may run across copyright issues by printing direct from the internet, therefore I decided to paint my own collage pieces using the internet as source material only. I had already decided to use a combination of lino print and chine colle, plus there would be an element of monoprinting for the background and probably the added text.

The following galleries show the process following on from the sketchbook development. My critical statement for Assignment 5 will explore the decision-making and challenges experienced more fully.

Preparation of the Main Elements of the Composition

 

Preparation of Printing Jig and Background Prints

 

Preparation of Lino Printing Blocks

 

Selecting the Composition and Placement of the Chine Colle Elements Using the Portrait Tracings (in reverse) as Guides

 

Lino Prints Over Chine Colle

Adding Text to the Chine Colle/Lino Prints

 

Completed Combination Prints – Lino Print, Chine Colle and Monoprint Masks

Final Combination Print - Vladimir Putin

Final Combination Print – Vladimir Putin

Final Combination Print - Angela Merkel

Final Combination Print – Angela Merkel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Final Combination Print - Kim Jung-Un

Final Combination Print – Kim Jung-Un

Final Combination Print - Donald Trump

Final Combination Print – Donald Trump

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prints are now drying and will be pressed to flatten out once dry.

Full critical statement to be attached to Assignment 5 Learning Log entry.

 

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.

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

26/09 – 11/10/17

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

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

I had never come across Chine Colle printing before that I was aware of, so it took a bit of sinking in to my brain to get it! I had to read up quite a lot to understand the technique and order of process, because of this, I decided to practice with a simple birthday card design for a friend. I have to admit it never quite made it to delivery as I forgot how long oil based inks take to dry but the thought was there.

I had some small cards and envelopes and lino blocks, so the print was about 10 x 12.5cm on a 12.5cm square card. I also received, for my birthday, a small dye cut machine, called the XCut that can be used as a small printing press for up to A4 size.  This was the first time I had used it and it was great fun and so much easier.

I had already decided to colour the tongue with red ink by hand and I was really pleased with the results for a first attempt.

 

Final print with tongue hand coloured redFinal print with tongue hand coloured red

Final print with tongue hand coloured red

 

After this minor success, I looked out a previously made lino block from the course and made a simple reprint on coloured paper and used gold tissue for the sun. It was simple yet effective. I now felt ready to try to create a new series of print using chine colle – See Part Two.

Montana Roja on red paper with gold tissue sun

Montana Roja on red paper with gold tissue sun

 

Research Point: Investigating Combination Printmaking and Incorporating Chine Colle Collages

25 September 2017

Research Point: Investigating Combination Printmaking and Incorporating Chine Colle Collages

Find some examples of good use of chine colle in printmaking and share them with other OCA printmakers via the forum or make notes in your learning log.

I have searched for Chine Colle print images online and found many examples. Those that particularly appealed to me, I have added to a newly created Pinterest Board imaginatively called, Chine Colle Printing. I have to admit that, for some reason, I was having a mental block against this technique. I couldn’t get my head around how to do this, maybe because I hadn’t really explored collage extensively. However, after reading different methods both in the course manual, online and in instructional books, it began to sink in. Plus after reviewing other artists’ take on the technique, I began to see ways of having fun with it and experimenting.

From the selection I “pinned”, it became obvious to me that I preferred those images where the chine colle was not used to colour precise aspects of the subject. Whereas I respect the skill of registration required, I found it too tight and restrictive. This is something I have felt I have become from over-planning in my previous projects. Therefore, where there is overlapping of the printed line or other layers of paper is much more interesting to me. I also liked where strips of paper have been used to extend the boundaries of the entire image to alter the orientation, shape and scale of the original print.

Another method I enjoyed was where more than one print block was placed side by side, for example, to create one image and then chine colle was used to bring them together and give a shared sense of place. A good example of this is the Coyote & Chicken by Melissa West:

 

Coyote & Chicken by Melissa West, two images to make one with chine colle bringing them together

Coyote & Chicken by Melissa West, two images to make one with chine colle bringing them together

 

I really like this as the bright yellow, what looks like, handmade paper top and bottom implies the straw in the hen-house and hints at the narrative about to happen, although not so good for the chicken!

Another simple but effective print I found used the chine colle to extend the border of the image as previously mentioned. Striped Cat by Robyn Sinclair:

Striped Cat by Robyn Sinclair. Example of pushing out the borders of the image with Cine Colle

Striped Cat by Robyn Sinclair. Example of pushing out the borders of the image with Chine Colle

 

I was also taken with more abstract and textural images where chine colle was employed using all sorts of materials not just paper. I liked the layering of materials and printing – the effect was fuller and richer with depth. This print was eye-catching with its using of colour and texture, unfortunately, I am unable to give credit as the link appears to be broken, I only know the artist’s name is Kate, I have no title either.

 

Abstract with chine colle using various materials to create texture

Abstract with chine colle using various materials to create texture

 

One more that again is simple with regards the addition of coloured paper but I like that they are tonally similar, complementary and do not slavishly match the outline – Green Tea 1 by Rosemary Eagle.

Green Tea 1 by Rosemary Eagle

Green Tea 1 by Rosemary Eagle

 

The best thing after doing this exercise? I can’t wait to have a go!

Project 13: Combination Mono and Linoprint

20/07 – 11/08/17

Project 13: Combination Mono and Linoprint

In this project you will be putting two printmaking techniques together – monoprinting and linocutting. Firstly, you will need to choose a subject where colour and line play equal parts… the two printed layers will need to contrast and compliment each other.

Development of the Subject

The most time-consuming element of this exercise for me was the development of the subject. Again, as is the way of this crazy world at the moment, it is the daily news that inspires my ideas. This time, I was, as many others were, horrified by the Grenfell Tower fire in London. Horrified not only by the huge loss of life, the absolute terror of those people affected, both of the survivors and those that had to await the inevitable with no hope of escape, but the apparent sheer incompetence, disregard and disdain demonstrated by those charged with their responsibility of care. The more that was revealed of the extent of their failings, the deeper the understanding of the lack of compassion for human life cut. Saving money appears to be more important. The appearance of the structures to be beautified to preserve the ambience of the locality for the gentrified areas seemed to be placed above safety.

All these points kept taking me back to my RE classes at school, my teacher was always referring to the biblical quote: ” the love of money is the root of all evil”, commonly misquoted as “money is the root of all evil”. These two statements, that are readily confused, are so different in meaning, it is understandable that this has stuck in my memory. The love of money encourages greed, envy, division and corruption of power. Money as an entity, can be the bringer of so much good and improvement. I decided to concentrate on the true quote and its meaning. How to put that into an image that would work as combined mono and linoprint was the challenge.

I began with visual brainstorming using imagery as well as words.

As in the above gallery, I began with representational ideas and then began to explore a symbolic direction using the golden bulldozer to illustrate the clearing of areas ripe for gentrification and “improvement”. This misnomer completely ignoring the fact that communities were already thriving, being multi-cultural, colourful and “ordinary”. These communities, particularly in city areas are comprised of people who live and work in the city but can ill afford the extortionate real estate prices. They rely on social housing, yet they are not, as commonly reported, all single mothers having more children to get a council flat, dole scroungers, immigrants who have jumped the council queue. I am ashamed to say that up to a point, I had also been brainwashed by this lazy journalistic reporting, and I was overwhelmingly impressed by those interviewed during the Grenfell tower fire. They were not the dregs of society, they were like you and me – families settling for the evening, school kids doing last-minute revision for their GCSEs and A Levels, young professionals building careers, extended families coming together to feast after fasting through the day for Ramadan, senior citizens settling down to watch the evening news, people being people in the perceived safety of their own homes. The eloquence, the stoicism, the empathy for their neighbours – it was true and honest and extraordinary. To represent my subject was a challenge indeed!

The idea so far was to use text to represent the existing communities, with the Golden Bulldozer clearing the path for improving the neighbourhood, with its clandestine objective of attracting a “better type” of person – whatever that means! However, I then looked back at my inspirational quote, and wondered if this was putting across the message? Was the bulldozer too clichéd, I looked at amending the design by using the yellow brick road analogy winding through from the green parks and glass fronted penthouses towards the badlands to be transformed. However, I could not see how to make this work in a combined mono and linoprint. I returned to my original plan after some thought.

As this decision was made, I then had to consider scale, the final composition and how to fit what text into the design. I had been advised to look at the work of Angela Cavalieri by my tutor some time ago, and how she used text to fill shapes.  This is where the use of words to create tower blocks etc grew from. I considered an A3 format, a square – looked at how I could incorporate the perspective I wanted and finally, came to the conclusion that a 30x20cm size would fit my idea best. I also had to look at which aspects should be made by monoprinting and which by linocut. As mono printing belies excessive detail, I decided to use it to give the bulk shape of the bulldozer and the background of the image. Text would suit the linocut as I had used the method in a previous project fairly successfully, along with outlining the details of the bulldozer’s tracks and components.

Monoprint Element

After deciding on the overall design, I needed to create a template for both negative and positive masks for the monoprint. Using the scale of 30x20cm for the entire print, the template had to fit in size and position. Once traced and transferred to a piece of card, I cut out the main shape to create the positive and negative templates, I then made several masks to enable a series of prints. I must admit, after marking out my graph paper guidelines and positioning the negative mask first of all, I found I had completely forgotten the process. I mistakenly started working as if the mask were a stencil, rather than masking an inked area – I did realise my mistake after the first attempt but decided to use the result to practice the registration and concept.

At this point, I had read ahead of my instructions to note that I should consider different colour schemes and representations within the series. So prior to printing, I also made notes to explore how different colour treatments could influence my message and prints. I considered the background first, thinking about atmosphere:

  • dark and moody to reflect the downtrodden
  • blue skies to show happiness in an ordinary life lived
  • orange/red to denote vibrancy, maybe anger, conflict
  • neutral blue/grey to sit behind the dominant foreground

Next the bulldozer, I made the decision that this would be yellow regardless, although, there was  a consideration of a mixture of bright, shiny, golden-yellow that would bring bling to the area, and a green tinged, tarnished effect in the vein of all that glitters is NOT gold.

Then the tower blocks themselves. This was where I could have a bit more free rein:

  • they could be black/grey to show dereliction or decay, lower class
  • or the colourful creativity of the less wealthy to make things their own, the diversity of the residents from age, to culture and taste
  • gentle soft colours of comfort, routine and familiarity
  • Clashing colours of hot-blooded differences from culture, age groups, belief systems

I then looked at the combinations of these three components and noted them to put in front of me whilst inking.

Whilst printing, again I was hounded by the registration. I was expecting to have some white space around the central bulldozer, as printing up the edges of the mask is always elusive depending on the thickness of the paper or card used. This added to the image, I think, where the registration was more accurate. Although, where the registration was off, it only served to highlight the problem.

Linocut Element

This is really the detail to go over the monoprint. Initially, text was to be used in the tower block, and on the bulldozer. I was hoping to use some choice words to further expand on the golden bulldozer motif ie  GENTRIFICATION across the scoop/bucket, GREED on top of the back of the body following the perspective and finally AFFLUENCE across the back. Unfortunately, in reality, when I began mapping out the lettering, it became abundantly clear that there was little space for this, particularly considering that these would have to be carved out of the lino and remain in one piece. I really wanted to include the word GENTRIFICATION, but had to concede that the smallest word GREED, was the only one that would fit anywhere. However, as I needed to add the details and outline to the bulldozer with the linocut, it would have been impossible to add this to the machine itself. In the end, my compromise, was to add GREED beneath the body of the vehicle between its tracks, following perspective lines. This worked to give some movement to the bulldozer going forward and had no ambiguity as to its meaning.

I also thought I could give more substance to the bulldozer by detailing its wheel tracks, cab, bucket and general outline. This proved to be a little delicate after successive inking, printing and cleaning, and some of the thin lines came away, however, I don’t this particularly detracts from the intention.

The Combined Mono and Linocut Print

Whilst I was drawing and cutting the lino, the monoprints were hanging up to dry. Once done, I reviewed them to decide which colour inking treatment to go with each. I initially worked on the red backgrounds, working in various black/greys, these included one monoprint ghost print just for curiosity (not particularly successful but interesting). Then depending on the background, I used a variety of ink colours and inking techniques such as selective and rainbow rollering, dab printing and wiping out.

All linoprints were made with a jig and strips of card that could be placed around the print block to keep the print paper edges clean and then folded back whilst the block was inked. The print paper was a heavy cartridge that had been soaked in water and blotted, and the inks were Japanese Sakura oil based inks (quickly depleting in quantity now) with white oil paint for mixing. Once dried the printed papers were placed beneath a drawing board with heavy books to flatten out the kinks. I had a selection of varying results, with the main problem, as usual, being the registration. The predominant cause seemed to be the misalignment between the two print techniques. If I could have devised a combined jig to use for both, I think it would have been better. However, I actually feel, as long as it was not too far out, the slight differences add to the image in a way – maybe because the individual elements in the design are misaligned it reinforces the message?

Results and Lessons Learnt

Overall, looking at the prints hanging up to dry, I was quite pleased. On closer inspection, as noted above, not one was particularly well registered, however, on a few, this added rather than detracted (my own opinion). Some of the colour combinations I really liked and those on a lighter background seemed to work best – this is purely in an aesthetic sense. I was disappointed that the so-called tarnished yellow did not really come through, not tinged enough with green. I also feel I missed a trick by not including the pieces of text on the bulldozer.

Do they convey the message of gentrification clearing away existing communities? Yes and no – without the text, then no. There are a few things that I made conscious decisions about during the  idea development that still leave me unsure. Should I have added more ghost buildings to give perspective and sense of place? I had decided not, as it may have overcrowded what I had hoped would be a concise and simple message. The text conundrum has already been mentioned. How much explanation should go along with a piece of work – should it need any? I have often watched art critics explain well-known works and listened to their renderings and interpretations that start with “What the artist was trying to say here was…” and I’ve thought “Really? How do you work that out?” So who knows – maybe it’s down to the viewer only, I’ve tried to express myself, I can not really stop someone else taking another meaning from it if any.

As for lessons learnt, my main lesson from this particular project is to not constrict myself. By that I mean, if I had decided to work bigger, I could have added the text I initially wanted. However, I think the word I chose ie GREED does sum it up – I just think it needed more punch!

I also think, looking back at my work on monoprints, right at the beginning of the course, I didn’t really exploit this technique enough this time. I was much freer in my approach before, I think my striving to put a meaning behind my composition is starting to inhibit my creativity and I am trying to control the outcome too much. I think I need to loosen up again – think more abstractly, consider colour as mood, shapes as emotions, still think symbolically but more expressively. Sounds easier than it will be I’m sure.

Last but not least, I must get my head around accurate registration or throw caution to wind and make my lack of skill part of the work – purposeful bad registration – sounds as easy as a pianist deliberately playing the wrong notes!

Best Three Prints of the Series

Which do I consider the best of a mediocre bunch, with possibility of putting these forward for assignment 5?

This was tricky, I felt I should have a cross-section of colour combinations, so out of the four that were more striking, I discarded one that was too similar to another. I have selected the best registration, or the least bad! I did notice that I may have set myself up to fail by cleaning the edges of the monoprint plate too emphatically and therefore making the background reduced in size. This may have assisted in scuppering the two print blocks from lining up properly. Another lesson learnt.

Series of combined mono and linocut prints - 2 of 9

Series of combined mono and linocut prints – 2 of 9

Print 2/9 is an example of the red background and black/grey text, The text graduates from black in the foreground to a grey in the distance, the idea being it would recede, not overly successful but the lettering is fairly consistently printed.

 

Series of combined mono and linocut prints - 5 of 9

Series of combined mono and linocut prints – 5 of 9

The next selection is print 5 of 9. It is straighter than the photograph suggests and a better registration outcome. The black ink is fairly well-printed and gives the bulldozer presence, unfortunately, the yellow should look more tarnished than it does to contrast with the brightness of the community it is encroaching upon.

Series of combined mono and linocut prints - 8 of 9

Series of combined mono and linocut prints – 8 of 9

Print 8 of 9 has arguably the best registration although it does illustrate the over-wiping down of the background edges as it is reduced in size compared to the linocut. Generally, I like the directional marks pushing the bulldozer forward with the perspective of the GREED text helping it along. I had tried to work in some texture in the blue background with wiping out and scratching of colour – not sure this works, but in general I quite like this one.

Whilst reading this through, another thought occurred regarding the text. What was to stop me preparing small linocut blocks with text separately to the main block? These could have been positioned carefully on the printed paper, turned over and pressed into the block. A little late now but an example of my working too closely to the subject and not being creative in my thinking!

Abstract Painting Classes

January – May 2017

Abstract Classes

I had the chance to join in weekly abstract classes here on the island. There was a core group of three students who attended regularly, with others jumping in for various weeks depending on their stays in Lanzarote. This in itself is interesting as abstract painting is so subjective, it was fascinating to witness how different the students’ interpretations of similar themes were to one another. Two of the other students had been attending the classes for a couple of months before me and had come to grips with certain aspects, whereas I was a total novice. My only foray into this genre was a couple of projects in the Practice of Painting course, however, these were very basic.

Initially, we looked at various abstract artists’ work in books to see what sort of things appealed to us. I was drawn to colour, especially red, and more loosely worked paintings. Some of the many artists we looked at over the weeks were Frank Stella, Sonia Delaunay, David Hockney, Frank Marc and Vasily Kandinsky.

Action shots taken and kindly allowed to be reproduced her by photographer and tutor Betty Rawson.

Mindlessness

I was so out of my comfort zone it was almost frightening – I had to forget everything I relied on – observation, sketching, planning – and let my mind go. I found I didn’t trust my colour sense anymore and, to be honest, began to think I never had any! Our first lesson was drawing random shapes and adding colour. I really struggled, I didn’t know what I was doing – I didn’t have an end result in my mind to work towards… but there was no going back!

The next week promised to be more fun. Our initial class of five dropped to four, our two experienced students and another novice and myself. We had been warned that we would be outside in a field so to come prepared . This was January in Lanzarote, so although warm enough, it was windy and we had previously had some rain so trainers, jeans, fleeces and aprons/coveralls were the order of the day. We advanced, armed with rolls of paper, brushes, pots of water, water-soluble paints and canvases, everything had to be weighed down with stones and insects had to be discouraged from landed in the paint.

We began with a long roll of paper between two and just splashed, dribbled, splattered and daubed to our hearts content for the first hour. We then set up our canvases and with a little more thought, began to make our paintings.

Field work for abstract course - experimental mark making and beginning my first canvas

Field work for abstract course – experimental mark making and beginning my first canvas

The painting on the canvas above was worked on over a few sessions…

Third session on the Squares and Circles canvas

Third session on the Squares and Circles canvas

A bit more work was done on this, along with some glazing with a dilute PVA substitute tinted with various colours.

Squares and Circles - maybe finished, maybe overworked - still not sure which way up I prefer it. Interesting start though.

Squares and Circles – maybe finished, maybe overworked – still not sure which way up I prefer it. Interesting start though.

Time to move on – we had another experimental session with a small piece of work made with sticking coloured shapes. Some shapes were cut from paper we’d painted and some from patterned paper and magazines. Again, I floundered – my fellow student below was doing so well as her colour sense was developing beautifully – in the beginning, it always took me until 20 minutes before the end of the class for me to “get it”.

Cutting, colouring and sticking shapes onto small card to make small abstracts as reference for a painting.

Cutting, colouring and sticking shapes onto small card to make small abstracts as reference for a painting.

Following our planning and experimental stage we took reference from this to begin our next painting…

I called this Wash Day in the end as it reminded me of clothes being blown about on washing line.

I called this Wash Day in the end as it reminded me of clothes being blown about on washing line.

We always had a little critique at the end of a session and regarding the above, we all thought that the dark shape in the middle was trying to dominate. This, however, was not necessarily a bad thing as a little challenge in an image can work – we nicknamed this challenge the “Party Pooper” as it’s trying to suck the joy out of the rest of the painting.

The weather was lovely so another outside session for us today. We started with a warm up by using brushes on the end of sticks and made marks paint on paper. The sticks were heavy and it was more like sword fighting at times. In fact my brush broke and had to be taped back together at one point. It certainly loosened us up for our canvas though.

Extended brush painting, outside. This was fun and bordered on dangerous at times but a good warm up exercise!

Extended brush painting, outside. This was fun and bordered on dangerous at times but a good warm up exercise!

Using the garden around us as inspiration, not to mention the fabulous view of the mountain in the distance, we began our main event canvas. This was worked on for a few weeks worth of classes and has a little more to be done for improvement. Many methods of mark making were employed in it, from wiggling a paint laden brush in a semi-uncontrolled way across the entire canvas, to drips and runs being blown and guided by turning the canvas this way and that. It has been glazed with dilute PVA with an orange tint several times. The shape and size of the canvas gave the painting a little more scope for experimentation.

This has had many interpretations in the class, what started out as a garden/bougainvillea inspired piece of work has become darker with wicked forest, to horses galloping across it carrying knights...

This has had many interpretations in the class, what started out as a garden/Bougainvillea inspired piece of work has become darker with wicked forest, to horses galloping across it carrying knights…

I was going to give this another heading, however, it still does come under Mindlessness.  In this week’s class, we were to bring a piece of music that made us feel something. We had a pretty full class for this one, five of us at our work stations with ear phones listening to different music and just painting – making marks that we felt came from our music. Nobody knew what the other was listening to. We worked on our canvases for most of the class and at the end, we looked at each other’s work, listening to the music that inspired it. It was fascinating as we were in a larger class than usual, yet we were completely absorbed in our own world of music and paint.

I titled this after the music I was listening to - Titanium. The track I chose was Titanium by David Guetta featuring Sia.

I titled this after the music I was listening to – Titanium. The track I chose was Titanium by David Guetta featuring Sia.

I felt that it was about overcoming outside negative influences, being independent and pushing yourself upwards and onwards – never giving up.

The range of music was vast, from my dance track, to a gentle classic piece, to an African uplifting beat and vocal, to an oriental and mystical composition. We could all see the influences from each in our paintings, although we would never have guessed what they were.

Themes and Where to Start

This week we were down to two of us – I think everyone else knew how tough this would be! Our challenge – whether we chose to accept it or not, was to make a self-portrait – not only abstract but in 3-D. Back to square one then! After looking at each other blankly for a few minutes, we started looking through magazines, patterned papers and other bits and pieces for images, textures, colours that appealed to us and that may be descriptive of us. Even this was really difficult for me. I started cutting and ripping things out and gathered a pile of samples of stuff! We made a base, which we could either paint or cover in other papers. We then began building our self-portrait. This was really tricky, the only things I could fixate on were colours I liked and chocolate! Anyway, this is what I came up with – not very impressive I know…

3-D Self Portrait - is what it's meant to be, but even though I made it and it's about me - I don't get it!

3-D Self Portrait – is what it’s meant to be, but even though I made it and it’s about me – I don’t get it!

This week, I was allowed some comfort back. We were allowed to draw a still life!!! My turn to be happy and for my lovely classmates to groan :0)

Betty had set up a still life of an orchid, with a starfish, a lantern and a few knickknacks. It was actually quite complicated as we had a few minutes to draw it from one angle, and then move around to capture others. Fairly straightforward, but the first few were to be without lifting the pencil, charcoal, pastel or whatever from the paper. (Even more groans from the back – my revenge was complete!)

The last drawing was to be done without looking at the paper – and just to make sure – we had to use white oil pastel! Once this was done, we took our white on white drawings to the table and, using watercolour paint, we were to put down whichever colours we liked, wherever we liked on the drawing. The point being that the paint would be repelled by the oil pastel wherever it met. Unfortunately, I got carried away and decided I wanted a wet in wet effect. The paper was dampened with water and paint added. It seemed that the extra water didn’t allow the oil pastel to resist the paint so well, so my first attempt was a fail…

Overly dampened paper with watercolour on oil pastel

Overly dampened paper with watercolour on oil pastel

 

So, much to the consternation of my fellow classmate, who had done the same, we had to redraw in white oil pastel and start again.

This time, I ensured that the pastel was thicker, although I couldn’t look at it, and did not pre-dampen the paper.

Watercolour was added randomly at first and the resist from the oil pastel was much more successful. I then swapped to a finer brush and traced some of the lines left from the resist. This was very therapeutic and satisfying, and illustrated how something representational could be used to create an abstract work.

 

 

Still Life Orchid in white oil pastel to resist watercolour

Still Life Orchid in white oil pastel to resist watercolour (with a surprise dolphin!)

More drawing this week! We had a plate of peppers plus some other edible items that I can not remember – and as they were abstracted, the drawings don’t help!!

Our method of beginning an abstract painting this time, was to draw the shapes we saw, no particular detail and no tone, just shapes. We made three large thumbnails on a piece of paper and working in shades of black, white and grey, roughly filled in shapes that we had drawn or added.

Monotone shapes drawn from still life - peppers etc

Monotone shapes drawn from still life – peppers etc

I felt that no one of my drawings was what I wanted, so amalgamated all three into something more pleasing to me as below:

Amalgamation of thumbnail sketches

Amalgamation of thumbnail sketches

The drawing was transferred onto some gesso coated hardboard 62 x 45 cm and then painted in acrylic, again with shades of black, white and grey. This is not yet finished but I’m looking forward to working on it again.

Large painting from thumbnail sketch

Large painting from thumbnail sketch

In our final lesson of the term, our last method of starting an abstract painting was to use colour. We had to think of an occasion or event that had a big impact on our lives. With that in mind, we had to relate that to a colour. We then mixed some tones of that colour and made a swatch of those tones on a piece of paper. When we had done that, we needed a contrast colour with mixed tones to add to the paper as below:

My swatch of emotive colour tones with its contrasting colour tones.

My swatch of emotive colour tones with its contrasting colour tones.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unfortunately, I had not brought a canvas with me, so had to use a spare one of Betty’s which was only 20cm square. Although, I probably wouldn’t have finished anything bigger in one session. The event that had a dramatic impact on me was related to water. Specifically, my first experience of a water slide into a pool when I was about ten years old. Prior to this, I was a complete “water baby”, and couldn’t wait to have a go. Not really knowing what to expect, I got in line with everyone else and was soon skidding down towards the water. The complete, all-encompassing wave of water that engulfed me, took me completely by surprise and I barely managed to surface and recover. I still like swimming but have a fear of being out of my depth and overly choppy water, be it in a pool or sea.

Water Shock

Water Shock

That’s all for this term but I am looking forward to the next one.

What I’ve taken away from this is that, I need to let go of the controlled way of working sometimes and go with what I feel rather than what I see in front of me. Art is an emotive and subjective form of expression and if it’s not created with feeling then I can not expect it to be viewed with feeling.

 

Assignment 4 – Collatype Collage Block Prints

27/06/17

Assignment 4 – Collatype Collage Block Prints

Task 1 (Project 11)

Present two prints of your textured collage test block with a descriptive statement

Descriptive Statement

Test block sectioned with items glued down ready for sealing

Test block sectioned with items glued down ready for sealing

 

The materials are listed from left to right, top row first.

Number one, the double stripped trim printed well and depending on the pressure used when inking, gave a variety of marks ranging from parallel fine lines, to more solid, thicker ones. It was easily malleable into shapes and could be twisted for interesting patterns.

Number two, the textured knitting yarn printed as a broken line mostly which occasionally linked up, it was very flexible even more so than number one.

Number three, the wide gauge embroidery mesh was stiff and unyielding, its main properties were that it gave a distinctive grid and could therefore mimic harder substances such as iron mesh or bars. It could easily be cut into specific shapes and would stay stable when being glued.

Number four, the gauze bandage was extremely easy to manipulate. It could be stretched, twisted, laid flat or layered and easily frayed at its edges. It could give the impression of flowing movement and shapes and was particularly useful for describing tone. I was a little disappointed with the straight relief inking with the black ink, however, when inking with a dabber and wiping, the results could be very versatile.

Number five, the ribbon. This was great to use as it was flat and the longer strip lent itself to being twisted and was still sufficiently stuck down with the glue. It worked well with the relief printing but I particularly liked the effect when the ink was gently wiped away to some extent. This then gave lovely highlights and really replicated a silky texture with the edges being more defined.

Number six, the bubble wrap was quite interesting particularly where the polythene creased. I was less drawn to the more solid bubble shapes than I was the twisted and stretched appearance. It was also flexible enough to twist although it needed a fair amount of glue to stabilise it. From this I think I would also like to try using some cling film, scrunched, twisted or creased

Number seven, the netting used to package supermarket fruit was a great texture. It was similar, although stronger to the gauze bandage and wouldn’t fray. It would particularly print well with the black ink and gave a random texture that could be very useful.

Number eight, I was unsure as to what results the handmade paper would achieve. It is a lovely texture that when torn, behaves almost like fabric in the way that it frays. I have used it before in mixed media painting where water-soluble paint clings to the frayed edges in an interesting way, hence my trying it here. In effect, it gave a nice texture but in a way that the source was not identifiable.

Number nine, the buttons were a fun addition, although, they really did just look like printed buttons so maybe not as versatile as the other materials.

Number ten, the dress making pins printed much better than I anticipated although again as the buttons, I don’t think I would use them very often.

Number eleven, dried spaghetti also printed well. This could be really useful where straight lines are called for, they can be broken into different lengths, used at angles, spaced apart or brought close together for texture.

Number twelve, porridge oats. I had obviously raided the kitchen cupboards for these few materials. These were a little disappointing in pure relief yet with more ink added and wiped, they could be useful for textures and tone, and also for using in conjunction with other similar materials of differing sizes (see number fifteen).

Number thirteen, long grain rice is a hard substance when raw and is surprisingly random when printed, great for texture, tone and highlights if wiped. The grains also printed very cleanly when printed in relief.

Number fourteen, Florists’ Winter Fauna is the name on the packet. a useful dried bundle of organic matter that florists use to enhance display designs. Theoretically, it could be used as a collage material in a clump or pulled apart to separate the strands as here. However, although it printed well the main challenge is getting it to adhere to the block as it is so curly and not overly flexible.

Number fifteen, gardeners’ potting grit. Fairly small-grained grit that gives a lovely random texture when printed. It also sticks down very well.

Number sixteen, dried, broken egg shells. These have been saved over time and are really useful for collage. If the pieces are too big when being stuck down, they can break down further and give an interesting, almost tortoise-shell effect.

Second relief print of test block with black oil based ink

Second relief print of test block with black oil based ink

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

I have selected print two of four for the black and white prints and print one of four for the coloured prints. A slightly different choice than previously made at the end of the exercise due to the clean appearance of the black and white relief print.

Task 2 (Project 12)

Present three versions of your collatype collage block print exploring a representational theme and a variety of collage techniques accompanied by a critical statement about your choice of subject and the way you have translated it into print.

After deciding to create a triptych type print series for my project, I have selected the three images below to represent my subject.

Final three selections from each image for assignment 4

Final three selections from each image for assignment 4

Critical Statement

I initially quote from my write-up of Project 12 itself:

“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.”

The more I explored ideas around my subject, the more I realised that one image would not suffice to put across my intention of drawing focus to this potential backslide to planetary destruction. Attention had to be on the misuse of power, the concern that this attitude may grow and continue in the wake of such an influential climate denying government and the dramatic results of such. As with many messages conveyed through the visual arts, I have tried to simplify and symbolise the message.

The portrait of POTUS stands as a figurehead for all those that ignore, deny and seemingly despise the science and evidence before us. Going back to my initial sketchbook thumbnails, the objective was to create a portrait of Donald Trump to illustrate the smugness with which I perceive he has taken power of one of the largest nations on the planet. That planet is under threat by human hand and he and his band of climate deniers are ploughing ahead with many policies to further the business dollar at our future’s expense. I need the portrait to describe this smugness and for his image to be recognisable. The use of some of the collage materials, in my mind, lend themselves to a pixellated image not unlike a comic book illustration. The use of orange flesh also help to give the impression of the real life caricature I see. It also serves to remind us not to dismiss the apparent incredulity and initial ridicule that we may think protects us from such people’s attitudes and opinions, they are not alone.

The combination of the portrait and landscape in a more linear image serves to illustrate that the shapes that we make and the decisions that we take are intertwined with all that is around us. Eventually, we as humans will become part of the landscape. We as individuals are merely blinks in the eye of time. We are transient but our attitudes and actions have repercussions and will carry on – we need to ensure that we make the right ones for humanity’s future. This I have tried to describe by bringing the two outlines together with stripes of colour, loosely relating to earth, sea and sky. No one human being is all omnipotent – hence the amalgamation to reduce their self-perceived power, the natural world will overcome its challenges, if given the opportunity.

The final image is to represent the earth’s warming, the melting ice caps, rising sea levels and the decimation that may ensue if we allow it, such as encroaching deserts and then little by little, in the loss of our familiar flora and fauna and so on…

Reflection

Overall I have enjoyed this particular section of the course. I feel it has allowed me the freedom to experiment with many types of materials and techniques without being overly process driven. This, now I read it back, seems contradictory as I have begun to develop my own process. I have acknowledged the need for organisation and structure to produce better quality and clean print productions. However, what I think has happened is that I am now doing this more naturally and everything feels less forced.

Measures against criteria:

Demonstration of Technical and Visual Skills – I have become less concerned about the lack of specific materials in my location and have begun to see this as a way to think differently and be more creative in how I achieve outcomes. I am more patient, and in particular in Project 12, by expanding the brief and creating different images, I have been able to organise the stages of work and maintain productivity ie performing a process on one image whilst another dries etc. The sketchbook work has also allowed me to improve my design and composition, by visualising images and simplifying them for printing.

Quality of Outcome – allowing myself time  to experiment with technique and material options, to work through ideas and visualisation and very importantly, to change my mind as a result, I feel I am closer to realising my ideas when I commit to the final work.  In these projects, I have had less mishaps with the actual printing and the results have been cleaner and sharper than in those previous.

Demonstration of Creativity – previously, I always felt that my skills were very representational ie drawing from observation etc, and my real shortcoming was when asked to use my imagination and create from scratch. I now feel that once I have my subject, I am brimming with ideas to illustrate its concept. As for the subject itself, combined with finding my personal voice, I’ve discovered that as long as I have a passion for that subject, I can drill down into it and find a “hook” to work with. From being able to draw fairly well, I now feel I can actually be creative from within myself. The more I do this the more confident I become.

Context – I realised some while ago during this learning process, that I am naturally a reflective person, I am also very self-critical – particularly negatively. This has good and bad connotations, although I am learning to turn that criticism into a more objective trait, particularly with making choices about ideas to take forward and selecting my work. I still enjoy the research aspect and have learnt to filter out what I need and want from it rather than become swamped in data. I try to keep my learning log succinct and easy to navigate, not least for myself to refer back to past projects.

Going forward, I feel more in control of my own outcomes, not least in having learnt to let go of the control and let things evolve. I like the elements of contradiction and experimentation that have emerged from these projects.

 

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.