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.

 

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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 9: Experimental Mark Making on Lino

17-20/01/17

Project 9: Experimental Mark Making on Lino

This project will allow you to experiment with different tools to create a broader range of cuts and textures that linocutters  alone can not offer.

After ransacking both kitchen and tool shed, I emerged with a random selection of tools and implements that would hopefully make some kind of mark on my test lino block.

Selection of implements for mark making on lino

Selection of implements for mark making on lino

  1. Small flat head screwdriver – Most marks were very straight, even if I tried to curve the line, it became angular as there was no flexibility in the blade. I couldn’t make a mark with the flat end of the tool as it wasn’t sharp enough.  Although repeatedly scraping backwards and pushing the blade into the lino made some impressions. Most marks were made by using the corner of the blade. Wiggling it from side to side made a nice, uniform pattern.
  2. Tile saw blade – As it’s a straight blade, I had to bend it into a curve to be able to make any marks at all. When I moved the blade back and forth in a sawing motion to scrape the lino, it didn’t actually cut as such. By using the curve and therefore a wider surface area, the tiny teeth of the blade made a set of lines and these could be changeable in width according to pressure used. Again  curves were difficult to produce, however a nice calligraphy type style could be made but only in an angular shape. No deep cuts could be made.
  3. Stanley Knife – Although the blade is sharp and clean cuts could be made – it was very unwieldy to use and I was aware that it cut better pulling the knife towards me rather than away from me, which was a little worrying. I thought I would be able to cut shapes out easily but I was unable to gouge out the centre of them – so I would have to use another implement in conjunction with the knife. I also cut right through the lino a couple of times. Any marks made were very fine and I don’t think they would print much if anything.
  4. Fork – This was more interesting to use and safer. I could make the more obvious straight marks with the four prongs. However, by adding pressure and twisting the fork into the lino, it produced the most successful curves/almost circles so far. It was difficult to achieve a complete circle but was effective none the less. Thickness of line could be varied also by using the fork flat on or sideways. By twisting the end prong into the lino, nice circular holes could be made.
  5. Assortment of keys – I had what appeared to be padlock keys – like small Yale type. These made some scraping marks but did not cut deep. Other keys may have been for bicycle locks – with a stubby cylindrical end with slight variations at the opening. These made some interesting circular marks, particularly where the actual “key” notches were, by pressing and twisting into the lino. Neither made a deep imprint.

    Text block on easy cut lino replacement

    Text block on easy cut lino replacement – numbered 1-10 left to right down the page

  6. Pastry cutter wheel – Why is it the implements that you would assume make the most interesting marks turn out the least successful? It made minimal impact on the lino although  the faint marks were attractive – I’m not convinced they will print at all.
  7. Smaller flat head screwdriver – this was a little sharper than the first screwdriver and also made good wiggly marks. As this was a little smaller and easier to handle, I tried using it as if drawing rather than cutting and it could be useful for texturing marks.
  8. Small pair of scissors – Using the tips of the blades and actually scissoring  into the lino, made interesting pairs of marks that were not at all symmetrical. I also used just one blade and “drew” with it. Producing slightly curved lines was possible this way. I also managed to gouge circles with just one blade point.
  9. 7cm long brass screw – I thought I’d be able to draw and make lines with the pointed end, but no – it wouldn’t move in the lino. It did however, make good stabbing marks on its point and slightly angled. I tried using it on its side with the spirals but nothing at all appeared. The screw head also failed to make an impression.
  10. Fruit zester – After the pastry cutter, I did not hold out much hope. However, this actually had the best gouging capabilities although it seemed to blunt quite quickly. It could make light marks similar to fret work patterns, or by  exerting more pressure, make deeper ones although not for such a long stretch. It could also, be dug in and twisted  to give a set of curves. Using it sideways gave fairly ordinary faint lines.

    Print from test lino block

    Print from test lino block – as reversed, the sections are numbered 1-10 right to left down the page

Once I’d completed my ten squares of experimental marks, I prepared some red oil based ink and some A3 sheets of cartridge paper. I pulled two prints which were a little faint, replicating the lack of intensity I had experienced in Project 8. Then I remembered reading that dampening the printing paper may help the ink adhere more successfully. This I did by wetting both sides of the paper sheets and then pressing them between sections of kitchen paper – this made the paper consistently damp but not wet. This worked much better and my next two prints were sharp and intense in colour.

Looking at my test prints, apart from random scratches and more organic marks and shapes, some of the implements used have created quite an urban and/or industrial feel. I then reviewed my test print of marks to establish the most successful of the selection. These proved to be:

  • Small flat head screwdriver (1) – wiggled side to side and reminded me of cogs/wheels/chains. If they could be made into arcs, it would be reminiscent of gearing. Some of the other marks could be sparks flying from a furnace or welding equipment.

    Review of best marks from the selection

    Review of best marks from the selection

  • Stanley knife (3) – using the corner of the blade, these have the irregular appearance of  globules of molten metal being flung through the air. Other very thin strokes made by the knife didn’t actually leave a white mark but, instead, a darker line or streak where the ink collected. These could be the “tail” a bright light leaves in the vision after it has  gone.
  • Smaller flat head screwdriver (7) and 7cm brass screw (9) – both used in stabbing and flicking motions gave a varied set of marks in both size and depth. both 7 and 9 placed in my mind the pitted mark that molten metal can scar other metal surfaces – as if sparks were flying around and landing on other things in their vicinity. This fits in with the other elements mentioned.
  • Fruit zester (10) – These marks remind me of grids or lattice – particularly in metal, looking through railings or bars/portcullis and such rusty metal structures. Because I had used red ink, I think this made me think of heat, the shapes I discovered made me think industrial – therefore metal or steel works.

I then made thumbnail sketches trying to develop and expand on these ideas for my experimental lino print.

Thumbnails of ideas to explore

Thumbnails of ideas to explore

 

Considering colour to emphasise atmosphere for the experimental lino print:

Colour tests for print

Colour tests for print

The colours I would choose would have a large impact on the atmosphere I wanted to convey. I wanted to show heat and bright white light that would reach into dark, musty corners of a workshop or industrial steel works. I had some inks that would be useful in orange, brown and copper but they were water-soluble, plus I needed some other colours to help create the vision I had. As needs must, I had another attempt at using acrylic paint mixed with printing block medium and experimented with yellow, red and ultramarine blue. Once mixed in and left for a few minutes, the medium became tacky enough to obtain that “sound” when rolled which indicates it’s the right consistency. I wasn’t sure whether to mix some colours or just layer them to give a subtle overlaid colour mixing effect. I settled for a combination, the yellow and orange were fairly “out of the box”. I had an “iron” brown, that when mixed with copper produced a less flat colour with a hint of metallic. My main challenge was the dark – I’d tried mixing and layering the brown and ultramarine but neither method quite got dark enough. In the end, I decided to mix a little black ink with the ultramarine but also to dab off a little of it from the block after rollering from the lighter areas. This worked well to give depth in the darker corners and fine outline around the shapes.

Instead of drawing out the shapes on the lino, I just worked freehand reversing the drawings in the thumbnails so that it would print the right way round. My main mistake was not creating a cardboard jig for registering each layer accurately, I thought I could make it work by drawing guidelines on paper to align each colour because I was working so small (A5). I was very wrong and this spoiled what could have been a very interesting print. However, there’s no point making mistakes unless you learn from them and this has been one big lesson. Another lesson learnt was that when experimenting with other cutting tools etc, the same materials should be used in the actual work otherwise similar results can not be guaranteed. I used easy cut for the test block and grey lino for the final print block. They reacted in different ways to the zester tool for example. It had become a little blunt from the mark making trials anyway, and then using it on actual lino, which is much harder changed the marks considerably. I tried a few samples on some off-cuts of brown lino, which is harder than the grey but I gained more understanding by doing that.

 

Below are the four prints taken using the reductive technique and non lino cutting tools. The registration is very hit and miss and this has had a major detrimental effect on the result. However, I still like the prints – the atmosphere has been captured, the marks are very abstract and can suggest different images. My intention had been to create an illusion of hot, sweaty, noisy, dark with blasts of light and sparks place of industry and some elements of that have worked. I can also see an urban landscape depicted in almost thermal imaging of rows of terraced houses, factories etc – maybe the light source is the sun, maybe it’s just a flash of electricity emphasising the man-made world? When I showed my husband he saw an aerial view of where we live –  next to a large (dormant I hasten to add) volcano that has an urbanisation growing up around it – you may almost imagine the volcano coming to life and threatening the civilisation beneath it. I know this is probably the opposite to the intention of most print editions but I also like that there are differences between each one because of the dabbing off of the dark ink. It’s almost as if they are time-lapse photos of the same scene.

The final edition of four prints

The final edition of four prints

My favourites are, I think, 2 and 3.

Print 2 of 4

Print 2 of 4

 

Print 3 of 4

Print 3 of 4

 

Anyway, enough of being fanciful – the registration was still rubbish!