Assignment 5: Combination Prints, Chine Colle and Further Experiments


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.


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


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

10 – 26/10/17

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

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

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

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

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

Preparation of the Main Elements of the Composition


Preparation of Printing Jig and Background Prints


Preparation of Lino Printing Blocks


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


Lino Prints Over Chine Colle

Adding Text to the Chine Colle/Lino Prints


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

Final Combination Print - Vladimir Putin

Final Combination Print – Vladimir Putin

Final Combination Print - Angela Merkel

Final Combination Print – Angela Merkel








Final Combination Print - Kim Jung-Un

Final Combination Print – Kim Jung-Un

Final Combination Print - Donald Trump

Final Combination Print – Donald Trump







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

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


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

26/09 – 11/10/17

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

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

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


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

Opposites Attract

Balancing Act

Parallel Lives

Never Ending

Development of ideas in sketchbook 1

Development of ideas in sketchbook 1

Development of ideas in sketchbook 2

Development of ideas in sketchbook 2






Process and Techniques

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Opposites Attract - dislodged print block on registration

Opposites Attract – dislodged print block on registration


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






Opposites Attract - Reprint of text misaligned

Opposites Attract – Reprint of text misaligned


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




Opposites Attract - Unsure how to proceed

Opposites Attract – Unsure how to proceed


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



Never Ending - smudged ink

Never Ending – smudged ink


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




Parallel Lives - collage paper ripped

Parallel Lives – collage paper ripped


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



Four Prints in a Series

Series of Four Prints

Series of Four Prints

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

Project 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!

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 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 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 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.


Research Point: Contemporary Printmakers who Heavily Rely on Texture

Research Point: Contemporary Printmakers who Heavily Rely on Texture

Find some contemporary printmakers who rely heavily on texture in the prints. What sort of textures have they used to create effects? How well has it worked?

I found a few contemporary artists who predominantly use texture in their work, although most seem to make abstract images.

Anne Moore: on studying some of her work, I can see she uses or re-uses found objects and scraps for her prints.  Bubble wrap is readily identified,torn paper and cloth, metal washers and gaskets etc. these all produce introduce impressions and shapes and give her work an originality and allure.

Liz Perry: Liz obtains a lot of her inspiration from nature and uses leaves, bark etc to create texture in her work. She makes monotypes, some of which she combines with block printing. Her work is abstract but gently so and definitely has its roots in the natural world. The images produced are colourful and full of texture from the natural objects she gathers.

Lynn Bailey: Again using naturally found objects such as leaves and various flora, Lynn creates some abstract and some more realistically grounded images. With her base painted or transferred images such as landscape or wildlife, the natural masks used add texture and pattern to her final prints. These work well, however I am more drawn to the pure textural abstract images with their richness of colour and pattern.


Project 3: Back-drawing



Another variation is back-drawing. This is where a design is impressed on the back of the paper, often with a pencil, after it has been laid over an inked printing plate. The result is a soft drawing where it is possible to achieve a considerable amount of detail.

Back drawn design on the reverse of the printed paper - A4 print on A3 cartridge paper

Back drawn design on the reverse of the printed paper – A4 print on A3 cartridge paper



I decided to create a positive and negative masked two colour print of the palm tree. I then lifted the paper, cleaned and re-inked the plate with black ink. Re-registering the paper I then used a positive mask to draw round the shape of the tree and then added smaller palms in silhouette to give an impression of distance as a back drawing.







Two coloured, positive and negative masked print with back drawing in black ink

Two coloured, positive and negative masked print with back drawing in black ink


The result of the back drawing showed a light print of the black ink in places. The outline of the tree was strong although, the silhouettes were a little subdued. I did not notice straight away, however, that the large palm tree back drawing was the reverse of the print. I had forgotten that the positive mask I drew around should have been turned over to match the print. Although, I must say, in retrospect I quite like the balance it gives the shape on the finished print. This is something to be aware of and remember if this method is repeated. It was a happy accident in this case though.





Palm tree and smaller trees - back drawing

Palm tree and smaller trees – back drawing


I tried again just using a fresh sheet of paper and black ink on the plate. The larger tree was again drawn from the outline of the positive mask, with a little detail added to the leaves and trunk. The smaller trees were drawn free hand with a few birds in flight for good measure. I kept this as a simple line drawing to see what the effect of the single ink colour would be.






Monochrome monoprint of back drawing palm trees

Monochrome monoprint of back drawing palm trees


I quite like this result as there is some random texture from the solidly inked plate that softens the outline made with a sharp pencil. I decided to leave this as is – less is more this time.








Back-drawing from Life

Now you are familiar with the back-drawing technique, try working on the spot by taking a prepared plate with you.

As it was, yet again, pouring with rain outside (not to mention sleet and hail stones) I decided to work from inside looking out of the French doors in to the garden. My apple tree must be the most drawn tree ever!

Back drawing from life - view from the French doors

Back drawing from life – view from the French doors


Going freehand with this one, I thought I would use textural marks as well as outline drawn in pencil.








Back drawn view from my window 1

Back drawn view from my window 1


Very disappointed when I lifted the paper! I admit I got a little carried away with the inks on this one. I tried to place the ink colours roughly in position all in one go. Consequently there is a gap in the middle and the free rollering has made it difficult to see the drawing. I’ll put that one down to experience!






Back drawing from life number two

Back drawing from life number two



In my second attempt, I moved the view along a little bit to the other side of the apple tree which was slightly less chaotic, yet still had some interesting textures.






Back drawn view from my window 2

Back drawn view from my window 2


This time I decided to follow the advice in the brief ie working with lighter inks first. I inked the printing plate with yellow, laid the print paper down and drew the previous design onto the paper. Unfortunately, I didn’t take a photo of this stage. It did work but was a little indistinct because of the colour. I wiped the plate and laid down some red. I re-registered the paper and traced over the original drawing for the foreground objects. Lifting the print, I thought it was worth re-drawing everything with varying pressures. This worked really nicely and I like the way the main objects are strong and the background is more faint as it should be. I also like the areas where unintentional pressure on the red ink has given the impression of extra foliage and leaves on the tree.



Back drawn view from my window 3 - loose drawing on A3 newsprint

Back drawn view from my window 3 – loose drawing on A3 newsprint



I thought I would try again on different paper from white cartridge and made a looser drawing on newsprint to see what the thinner paper would produce.







Back drawn view from my window 3 - A3 newsprint

Back drawn view from my window 3 – A3 newsprint




I actually re-used the print plate from the previous back drawing but replaced the print paper with the newsprint. The yellow ink has been lost in the previous print so just the red has printed. It is difficult to see in the photograph but in reality the previous back drawing may just be seen. With re-using the plate and using the thinner paper, the line is much finer and less deep in colour.





What is the quality of the line you have printed? 

As noted above.

Can you think of ways in which this method might be used for sketching or making spontaneous drawings?

I would think that this may be great as an under-drawing or painting to continue to be worked into – particular with pastel, either oil or chalk. I understand that Degas used a similar method as a base for many of his pastel paintings. I’m not sure I would necessarily think of this first to make spontaneous drawings due to the preparation required, however, it may be a great way of taking an image further into the unexpected.

Try another print of this type without re-inking your printing plate. Did you notice any change in the quality of the line?

See last print above.


Project 3: Variations using Masks and Multi-Colours

20, 22, 25/04/16

Variations using Masks and Multi-Colours

Now you have started to explore masks and printing from a printing plate you can begin to experiment. Try out some new ideas using masks, layers of colours, painted printing plates and so on.

Here I followed instructions on how to create a three colour masked monoprint. It uses two colours with a negative mask for positive prints and one positive mask to give a negative print as a background colour.

Three coloured monoprint - with additional overprinted without the masks

Three coloured monoprint – with additional overprinted without the masks



I was disappointed with the initial result as the yellow was too far over, although I purposely was not trying to print each colour on top of the other. I then tried overprinting with both negative and positive masks removed. This wasn’t really what I was after but it’s good to play and experiment and I can’t expect it always to be effective.







Three coloured monoprint using 2 negative masks and 1 positive on A2 white medium weight cartridge paper

Three coloured monoprint using 2 negative masks and 1 positive on A2 white medium weight cartridge paper



After the first attempt I decided to just follow the instructions and see what happened. I also decided to use the medium weight cartridge paper again as it is more of a brilliant white and thought it would look good against the mix of colours. This worked well and although the yellow is a little over, it still looks pleasing to me.






Varied Masks of Natural and Found Objects, Textures and Solvents

The idea here was to experiment with textures and colours to achieve unusual and creative effects in the monoprints. This was a huge learning curve of how to use found objects as masks, consistency of inks, colours, papers and printing pressure.

Man-made objects and solvent on A3 newsprint

Man-made objects and solvent on A3 newsprint


My first attempt is an A4 print on A3 newsprint. Using red and yellow oil inks overlapping to mix colours on the print itself. Coiled string, bubble wrap and gauze were used as masks, ink was lifted out with a brush handle and solvent was dripped and splashed onto the print plate to achieve different effects. Several layers of printing were used to produce this and this is evidenced by pure colour on white, and the colour beneath coming through in places.





Ghost print on A3 newsprint

Ghost print on A3 newsprint



As there was still a substantial amount of ink on the plate after the above print, I decided to take a ghost print on a fresh sheet of newsprint. This was still quite distinct and the drops of solvent show up even better almost like bubbles with less ink with which to print. The bubble wrap is also much more obvious as I would guess the top layer of yellow ink was spent in the first completed print and the bottom red layer has remained. This was a fascinating experiment and was worth noting the results for how to achieve effects in the future.




A4 print on A3 white cartridge paper.

A4 print on A3 white cartridge paper.


Using two colours of yellow and blue with layering producing green as the third. Again using man-made masks of gauze and bubble wrap, with natural masks of dried sliced orange. Drops of solvent, although not so much as before, disperse the inks letting the pure colours come through. Again, the ink was scratched into with a brush handle giving nice clear squiggle patterns. I was a little disappointed that the orange slices didn’t really show as much definition as I’d hoped.





A4 print on A3 white cartridge paper

A4 print on A3 white cartridge paper


This time, still using two colours I decided to use blocks of pure colour and join them with the masks and patterns in the design. I used a small piece of fabric mesh, bubble wrap (the same piece as used before which had ink on it so printed itself), some solvent drops and a squiggly pattern made by a brush handle again. I have reused many of the same methods and masks, however, it is fascinating to me how different each print still is.






A4 print on A3 white cartridge paper

A4 print on A3 white cartridge paper


Here a yellow layer was inked first with a some large drops of solvent attempting to make some flower like shapes. A second layer of blue with more drops of solvent, trying to vary the sizes and dragging some of these drops to make stems. Some scratching into blue layer for texture and added organic shapes. This illustrated the unpredictable nature of printing as although I was trying to create a flower like image, it did begin to resemble underwater coral or water based plant life. I think the colours used also contributed to this.




Using What has been Learnt to Create a Landscape

When you can see the possibilities of this process, make a print depicting a landscape or town scape using the print of different items.

This was a fun task and involved some working into the inks with a rag, cotton bud and using layers of colour to create others. Even though this was a landscape, I used both natural and man-made items to create shapes with a little solvent to give blurred “cauliflowers”. I managed to build some tone into the image although it could have had more and it is more expressive than realistic. Having said that, it sort of works.

Landscape built from layered ink and textures. A4 print of landscape on A3 cartridge paper.

Landscape built from layered ink and textures. A4 print of landscape on A3 cartridge paper.


Project 3: Two Coloured Masked Monoprints

18 & 19/04/16

Two Coloured Masked Monoprints

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

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

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

Method of two colour print:

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

All seemed well except for a couple of crucial points:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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













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

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

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

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

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













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

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

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

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

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

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













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

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

Two coloured monoprint - A4 size printed on A3 newsprint

Two coloured monoprint – A4 size printed on A3 newsprint

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

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












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


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

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

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

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












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

Lessons Learnt:

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


Project 2: Positive and Negative Masked Monoprints


Positive and Negative Masked Monoprints

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


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

Chosen design - positive and negative masks

Chosen design – positive and negative masks

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

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



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


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

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


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

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


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

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



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

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

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

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




How did you find this process?

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

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

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

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

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

Lessons Learnt:

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

Negative mask print in red oil based ink