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.

 

Advertisements

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 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

 

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!

Project 10: Experimental Relief Prints

Project 10: Experimental Relief Prints

30/01 – 23/02/17

By now you will have gained experience in making relief prints in one, or several colours, and in the multi-block or reduction methods. You have also used linocutting tools and experimented with mark making from other implements and tools. With this experience in mind you now have the opportunity to develop an experimental relief series.

Experimental Surfaces

I struggled at first for what to use, however, when floor tiles were mentioned in the course notes I knew we had some surplus black foam rubber type tiles that are used for gym floors etc. The upper surface had a checker-plate raised design so I used the underneath which was fairly smooth considering it had been previously used.

Foam rubber floor tile upper surface

Foam rubber floor tile upper surface

Foam rubber floor tile under surface

Foam rubber floor tile under surface

 

 

 

 

 

I then found some cheap and cheerful polystyrene sheets in various sizes and shapes. I was also keen to try a wood cut, however I couldn’t find anything suitable. I then found an old lino block that had been stuck to a block of MDF, so I used the reverse of that.

A4 size polystyrene sheet

A4 size polystyrene sheet

MDF block 5 x 4"

MDF block 5 x 4″

 

 

 

 

 

Cutting Tools

This was also a bit of a challenge. There are a couple of art shops on the island, I’ve only found one so far. They had a good selection painting and drawing materials but printmaking was a step too far. As I was after, in my fantasy, some wood carving chisels, I tried local DIY stores but they only sold “big boy” chisels. Despairing I ventured into a huge Chinese bazaar which had anything and everything you didn’t know you needed, including some wood carving chisels in a set of ten. Admittedly not top quality but I grabbed two sets anyway in case of breakages. These I numbered for easy identification.

Woodcutting chisels of various sizes and shapes numbered 1-10

Woodcutting chisels of various sizes and shapes numbered 1-10

 

 

 

 

 

Experimental Mark Making and Test Prints

Not wanting to blunt my lino cutting tools, I decided to stick with the wood chisels on the various blocks I had chosen. I also thought it would be interesting to see what the same tools would do with different surfaces.

My full notes on this exercise on are page 37 of my sketchbook, however, below are photos of the test prints and results I observed.

Foam rubber tile:

Results: Pleasantly surprised, the ink printed consistently from the tile, the marks were clear and had a pleasing softness at their edges. A good and wide variety of marks – will use again I think.

Polystyrene sheet:

Results: This was surprisingly effective too. However, there was minimal control over the cutting due to the nature of the polystyrene being made up of particles that would shed easily and unpredictably. This may be useful as a first layer in a light colour to introduce a textured ground.

MDF block:

Results: The block resisted the ink a little, so it was important to ensure good coverage before applying the print paper. Although it was virtually impossible to see the  marks made before applying the ink, they actually printed well and clearly. If I was using MDF again, it may be useful to colour the surface before cutting to fully see what marks are being made.

Development of Image

Development of ideas for experimental relief image Sketchbook page 38

Development of ideas for experimental relief image
Sketchbook page 38

I followed quite a journey before deciding on my theme for the image of my experimental relief print. I returned to my thoughts on female misogyny and batted around a few ideas in my sketchbook. In the current political climate, there were many examples for inspiration, particularly in the US. There, on one hand, it is one of the most forward thinking cultures in the western world and on the other, is so archaic it is almost comical, if it was not so terrifying.

 

 

Development of ideas for experimental relief image Sketchbook page 39

Development of ideas for experimental relief image
Sketchbook page 39

One thought I tried to stick with, was to avoid being overly representational. This would just be too obvious, I needed to think of shapes and images that symbolised my thoughts. I metaphorically travelled around the world, considering differing cultures and their attitudes to women and back again. I began to settle on the life followed by men and women, considering circles and curved lines to denote the feminine and squares and straight lines for the masculine (thumbnails page 39 of sketchbook).

 

 

Development of ideas for experimental relief image Sketchbook page 40

Development of ideas for experimental relief image
Sketchbook page 40

I touched on the perception that men have shaped the world for centuries and by that very fact have also influenced how some women perceive others of their sex. Some still consider the indoctrination they have been brought up with as the way forward and others want to push these barriers over and create, construct and manage their own futures. From this huge subject, I tried to narrow down a concept as a beginning for my explorations, which could easily last a lifetime! My ideas followed along the lines of freedom of thought as distinct from freedom of speech – what one says does not necessarily reflect one’s thoughts. Freedom itself, is I concluded, the basis of all of this. Freedom to be who one wants to be, if not physically possible (because of culture, upbringing, limitations of wealth or education etc), then freedom to dream. There are perceptions of freedom and it can mean different things to different people. Following from my earlier thumbnails I morphed into illustrating these perceptions as different “worlds” or virtual planets that are loosely connected to each other. I also thought of the song “Feeling Good” (A Newley/L Bricusse 1965) and my favourite performance by Nina Simone – I played this and honed in on the lyrics:

Development of ideas for experimental relief image Sketchbook page 41

Development of ideas for experimental relief image
Sketchbook page 41

“Birds flying high,
You know how I feel
Sun in the sky,
You know how I feel
Breeze drifting on by
You know how I feel
It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day
It’s a new life for me
and I’m feeling good.”

From this uplift in mood, I decided to try to concentrate on positives within my concept – it would be easy to drag myself down by focusing on how bad things could be. This will not improve anything, positive thoughts create solutions not problems. This is how I feel I should take this forward into my ideas.

There were many revisions during the development stages, deciding on scale and sizes, positioning etc plus the order of printing.

Printing Process

I began with my basic ideas of using two printing blocks initially:

1 polystyrene to make a ground with texture marks from its natural surface

2 foam rubber tile to create a representation of linking the planets and a flock of birds flying freely

As I worked, I realised that I needed a separate print block for the planets themselves that would give me a stable surface to cut the spheres and the details within them. I decided to return to lino and lino cutting tools for this, using a reductive technique to build the design.

Even during printing, there were re-thinks and revisions along the way that have been documented and dated in my sketchbook. I made several print dabbers to build the tones and marks rather than relying on rollering on the inks. I also wanted to make each print more individual by using the dabbers as this appealed to me after my recent research into contemporary printmakers. I decided on a small print run of 4 as the method was becoming more complex and I wanted to reduce the margin for error.

Due to my recent difficulties with registration, I created a jig from cardboard and was meticulous with my measurements for the aperture and all three printing blocks. I also carefully measured my printing paper, of which I decided to try two different types. Two prints were on thick cartridge paper and two were on thick, slightly textured Somerset printing paper. I had not used the Somerset before, and was interested in the outcome. After cutting all the paper to size to allow a margin of 6cm each side and 6.5cm top and bottom, I had off-cuts that I intended to use to test pieces for the various effects I was attempting.

I also decided to use water-soluble inks that I had, in conjunction with acrylic paint mixed with acrylic block printing medium. As this was supposed to be experimental, I thought “nothing ventured, nothing gained”.

As shown in the above gallery, I changed my mind from having merging red/blue interconnecting lines between the planets after my first print. This effectively made the first print obsolete, however, it still had a valuable role as a test bed for subsequent prints and I continued to take it through all the printing stages, making evaluations and changes as it progressed.

After completing the images, which as intended, were slightly unique from each other, my initial reaction was disappointment. Having had the theme of freedom of thought as inspiration, I felt that the final results looked far from free. I didn’t like the black/grey of the bird flock and the interconnecting lines were too heavy rather than loose links between worlds.

Due to my despondency regarding the final prints, I decided to finish up by running off a couple of prints from the foam block using the left over inks and bit of ready-made copper colour. This was a reaction to very considered way I had worked and was actually very freeing as intended. I used rollers in a haphazard fashion to make blocks of colour, after applying a base of yellow ink across the entire block. Having rollered the inks on this time, I found that the paper adhered well to the ink and peeled off the block with a little resistance that felt good and secure – a satisfying feeling!

I enjoyed this experimental play and it proved invaluable in a way that I will cover in my assignment self critique.

 

Research Point: Experimental Relief Prints

25 & 27/01/17

Research Point: Experimental Relief Prints

Take a look at some contemporary printmakers who use experimental methods to make their prints. What have you found of interest? What new techniques and ideas have arisen in this investigation?

As suggested I accessed the Printmakerscouncil.com website to research and discover some contemporary practitioners and their techniques. There were all sorts of print styles, techniques and forms available to see and was quite overwhelming, so after a few forays I decided to concentrate on the Relief Printing category.

Christina Frances-Crews

Although etching rather than linocuts, the process of developing an idea is relevant. The stages that Christina appeared to follow were:

Theme => Recurrent Elements => Drawing => Collage => Inventive Techniques & Experimentation (not elaborated on) => Printing Process

She says she responds to the unknown element rather than controls results from start to finish, which is a liberating way of thinking.

Sinclair Ashman

Sinclair uses collograph type printing that I have yet to explore. I am attracted by his preference of single, original prints rather that traditional editions. I like the idea of working on a piece of work to bring out its depth and texture rather than faithfully reproducing a number of the same image. This appeals for the freedom of expression it could give.

Jess Buglerjessbugler.co.uk

Jess creates reductive linocuts in very limited editions. Themes of exploring the modern world in its intensity by limiting the editions stops the message or narrative being diluted. Her Syria series is beautiful in its horror, composition and detail. Jess’ Nightwatch series was very interesting in its technique. When I saw the prints I though they looked like hand formed clay heads with the pulling and stretching of the clay to form the shapes. Reading the commentary, that was exactly what Jess had done. She had sculpted and moulded the heads of the Militia Men in Rambrandt’s Nightwatch painting in clay, then photographed them in bright light and created her linocuts from the tonal and textural images. Genius idea.

Her colour palette is limited too and ranges from monochrome to 2 or 3 contrasting colours or tones to give the most impact to each subject as it suits.

Ruth Barrett-Danes2d3dsouth.com

Ruth uses the landscape and nature themes from around her environment. She uses both intaglio and relief methods on limited print editions as the inking up process can not guarantee exact replication across a large edition. Luckily as I didn’t really know the process of intaglio printing, Ruth has put a nice description of her process on her website: The cut plate is inked to include the cut away areas, excess ink is carefully wiped away and then the plate is re-inked for relief printing, this is then printed on to 300gsm damp paper. She says this gives more depth and richness to the print. I am keen to try this method. Ruth often combines mono and linocut techniques too, depending on the effect and image.

These may or may not be particular original ideas and processes but they have given me inspiration to be a little more free spirited with my attempts.

 

Project 8: Reduction Method Linocutting

18/10 – 05/12/16

Project 8: Reduction Method Linocutting

In this project  you will learn how to cut and print a multi-coloured linoprint from a single block of lino. This is called the reduction method.

Preparing Your Design

Following on from tutor feedback, I had decided to try to expand on a subject that I was exploring as my personal voice. That being misogyny perpetrated by other women, which is a puzzling subject – however, I decided to be brave and zoom in on a very personal angle. From my experience of not having children, I was surprised and often quite hurt by the attitude of those lucky enough to be mothers. Assumptions abounded that I was selfish, career driven, cold and unfeeling. The question “Do you have children?” became, from my perception, almost accusatory and, with my answer in the negative, I felt the superiority dripping from my interrogator’s words. Due to the frequency of my own “near misses” shall we say, this feeling was reinforced many times.

As my sketchbook was in transit between the UK and Lanzarote, I resorted to using roughly A5 sized paper to work through my design, these I joined together horizontally to create a long, type of story board. This worked well as each page was visible as I progressed my thoughts. I began with the positive aspect of my subject, looking at general symbols for fertility such as the Madonna and Child, Lotus flowers and the moon. Others were explored for example, elephants, cats, frogs and pomegranates. As I moved along with my thoughts a circular motif evolved, which naturally gravitated to include the moon, lotus flower and the Madonna and Child. I also felt I needed text to help illustrate the meaning behind these symbols. I tried sentences, yet they seemed too explanatory, I felt that just relevant words would be better for both establishing meaning and composition, yet leaving a little interpretation to be made by the viewer. I think I was subconsciously inspired by a video my tutor suggested I watch, of Angela Cavalieri creating a large-scale linoprint. She drew with words to create her work which also heavily relied on symbolism. I watched this several times and once more to write  this blog – my efforts seem extremely elementary in comparison but I still feel they do the job required of them. However, on reflection, I could have maybe curved them around the centre pieces to accentuate the cyclical element – maybe I missed a trick there?  After working on the positive, I needed to address the negative, which after all, was the more personal experience to me.

Following a similar principle, after a little experimentation, I decided to work with a circular motif again, although this time in a wreath style. This alluded to remembrance and I felt drawn to the Christmas Rose flower for the wreath. As tears were many during these times, they began to formulate into a constant shape throughout the images, I considered hearts both whole and broken, however, I felt this was too obvious and pulled away from the shapes I wanted to use. As with the previous image, I worked in thumbnail sizes, evaluating the overall appearance and composition and how it was to symbolise my message. The fetus shape contained within the main tear drop is, hopefully, not too gruesome but a simple representation of what is lost so early in its life. The Christmas Roses signifying the number that was lost and the three small tear drops the average number of months of those lives.

After both sets of thumbnails, I began to think of creating a diptych type print as, the images would make more sense as a pair. To this end, it was important to refer backwards and forwards between the two, they were opposites, yet joined as if two sides of a coin. As both images were circular, I needed to think about the space they were placed in. I felt that a square frame was ideal, plus when they were placed next to each other in the jig for printing, I would have a rectangular whole image made from the two images.

As I worked, I discovered that, and then exaggerated, the tear drop shape was repeated in both the positive and negative images. After all it is common to have both happy and sad tears. This was another factor that linked the two. The Madonna and Child were simply indicated by two tear drop shapes combine together and even the highlights on their faces resembled a tear drop.

The next thing for both images was to explore the text aspect. I knew I was making it harder for myself but the subject was too important to me for half measures. I felt that I should make the lettering soft and not “type cast” and uniform. The actual words to use must also reflect my perceptions and make the viewer ask their own questions. I suppose my objective is to make those that have successful outcomes consider the feelings of those who don’t – it is not a medal of achievement and therefore, the opposite should not be of failure. It is just the way it is.

Colour was also important – I wanted them to be representational, they had to be fairly minimal in number and had to be uniform across the two images. I decided to keep the text white, the robes of Madonna and child the traditional blue along with the text background and tears, with silvery grey for both moon shapes, flesh/peach for the faces and the internal petals of the lotus flower and the Christmas Roses and finally a deep red for accentuating elements of the roses, the outer lotus flower petals and the main tear drop. With a little experimentation these fell into place nicely. I had considered a final black outline on the main objects but after printing the blue, felt that this would deaden any subtlety that remained.

I was really pleased with the final designs and was keen to get going.

Planning process for the positive image:

Planning process for negative image:

I transferred the designs on to two pieces of lino cut to the size and shape I had determined using the scaled designs from my sketchbook, that being 15x15cm square. This was also in response to suggestions by my tutor, where she rightly surmised that I had worked to the scale and shape of the pre-cut lino block and not through any real thought process. I had also decided to add a thin border line, purposely making the internal line ruler straight and the outer more ragged/natural, this being left white like the text it would contain. Using tracing paper to follow the outline from the drawings and being mindful to reverse the image when transferring to the lino – particularly important with the text element! As the lino was going to be cut in sequence and frequently washed of used ink, I enhanced the outlines with indelible pen.

 

The Cutting Process

I took my time during the planning to work through in which order I would print the colours and therefore considered carefully how to proceed with the cutting of the lino. I worked through the colours in pencil on my sketches and then hatched out each stage to ensure I was cutting the right lines – no going back!

I was using genuine lino this time so was careful to keep warming the surface with a hairdryer to make cutting easier. Although I was using many different shapes and lines, I couldn’t quite see how to incorporate a variety of mark making – maybe a different subject would be more appropriate for this.

I took rubbings of each stage to check the success of cutting before each different colour was printed. See below:

In between cuts, prints were taken as documented in my sketchbook. I only have the three primary colours and black oil based inks. As I needed to mix pale colours for two of the print runs, I decided to try Titanium White oil paint to mix with the inks as necessary. The first colour being a pale pink/peach colour using white, a little red and even less yellow. The mix was just right in shade and with the addition of a little linseed oil, appeared to be the right consistency. The next print run was to be a pale silvery grey and consisted of white, a little blue and minute amount of red – again this was very successful and with a little linseed oil, printed very nicely.

Surprisingly, my most challenging prints were the straight colours of red and blue. I again mixed a little linseed oil with each, as I have done with all the oil inks so far with success. This time, however, the coverage was sporadic and varied in both colours. This was very disappointing as these solid colours really needed to be just that. I was convinced, because of my previous use of the same inks, that my prints would be successful particularly at this stage, the hurdle, I thought, would have been the mix of white oil paint. This was one challenge, the other was my registration jig.

I had created a jig of cardboard for both lino cuts, with apertures for each square measured out equidistant horizontally and vertically to place the two images centrally in an A3 sheet of paper. I marked where the A3 sheets should be placed to maintain registration. There did seem to be a millimetre or two of play in the apertures which gave a couple of instances of misalignment in my printing. The main problem occurred where the printing paper got marked and made the printing a little messy. The main culprits being:

  • an unnoticed crease in the cardboard where I had cut the apertures, which eventually picked up ink and printed
  • a stray fibre or two from the lino, which again picked up ink

Having noticed this, I snipped off the offending strands – and checked for any subsequent ones and also masked the apertures with tape when inking, and removed it before printing (except for one occasion where I forgot!).

Below are some work in progress photos following the process:

 

The paper used was a heavy weight cartridge paper size A3. The inks were Sakura Printing Oil Colour in Red (19), Yellow (3), Prussian Blue (43) with a mix of Titanium White Winsor & Newton Artists’ Oil Colour. I attempted a run of 12, bearing in mind potential losses and an artist’s proof, I was looking at an edition of 8 prints. I am still at a loss as to why the red and blue inks did not print consistently as the lino was well inked but not over inked, the burnishing was thorough and it didn’t seem to matter I let each colour dry thoroughly before applying the next. There seemed to not be a common denominator other than it being out of the tube and mixed with a little linseed oil. I will have to do further research. I don’t even think a press would have made a difference so I can’t blame my tools!

So in conclusion, up until the third and fourth colours, I was very happy with the progress. My greatest leap forward was with the subject and its personal connection. I feel that I depicted my thoughts well, which I admit did get a little dark at times, however, I feel the overall vision was more positive and pleasing to look at regardless and in spite of the message. It was also therapeutic for me, and has left me with a sense of making the best of what I have and still finding happiness – in life (except for the last two colours – in my prints!!).

Sample print from an edition of eight

Sample print from an edition of eight

The above sample probably shows the best registration but unfortunately is a little patchy and not overly clean around its edges.

Below are close-ups of each square image.

 

 

Close up (warts and all) of the positive print in square format

Close up (warts and all) of the positive print in square format

Close up (warts and all) of the negative print image in square format

Close up (warts and all) of the negative print image in square format