Project 3: Back-drawing

26/04/16

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

12/04/16

Positive and Negative Masked Monoprints

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

 

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

Chosen design - positive and negative masks

Chosen design – positive and negative masks

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

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

 

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

How did you find this process?

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

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

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

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

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

Lessons Learnt:

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

Negative mask print in red oil based ink

Further Painted Prints

04/04/16

Further Painted Prints

Explore a variety of themes to include still-life, figures, landscapes and so on. Enjoy the spontaneous results you can achieve and the freedom of working directly onto the printing plate provides.

Having attended my first life class on Saturday for some time, I was keen to use some of my drawings from then for monoprinting. I reproduced a couple of the poses in my sketchbook to help me make sense of tones and shapes, plus used a second seated pose from the original drawing.

Seated Pose 1

Further painted prints of figure - sketchbook prep

Further painted prints of figure – sketchbook prep

 

Sketch plus initial and subsequent notes to inform my painting on the plate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Using A2 heavy weight cartridge paper, water-based inks and acrylic paints mixed with printing medium (supplies have arrived!) I was able to used more colour. Interestingly, the actual printing inks are less likely to grip the glass printing plate than the acrylic/medium mix, this in turn makes the print less solid. Of course, the upside is that this gives more texture to the printed finish – although the downside is that this may not be wanted!

This time, my favourite result and the most successful print coincide in print 3. It’s captured the pose, tones, the highlights and the texture of the hair.

Further painted prints of figure -Figure A Print 3

Further painted prints of figure – Figure A Print 3

Seated Pose 2

 

I had a look back at Degas’ monoprints and decided to roller the plate with black ink – this, incidentally, worked much better with my ink that using a brush. I then wiped and scratched out highlights and texture as I had noted in Degas’ work. I was really pleased with the first print using this method, until I realised I’d omitted the second leg! For Print 2, I misted water over the plate from standing height to create a fine spray and then working into to resultant plate with brown and black ink using a brush – with gold as the highlight. A little more fine texture was scratched into the fabric and hair using the brush handle. This was quite nice too as the background was subtle in contrast to the figure itself. Print 2 was re-established in Print 3 with brushwork and texture – the more I look at this one, the more I like it – it has an ambiguous quality that I find attractive. The final print is misted ghost of Print 3 which has eliminated much of the texture and has given an ethereal feel to the image.

Lying Pose

Further painted prints of figure - sketchbook prep

Further painted prints of figure – sketchbook prep

This pose was reproduced in my sketchbook from the original drawing, however, as it was quite complex, I found I was distorting the proportions without the model in front of me. As I had originally used an approximately A2 sized piece of paper for the drawing, I thought I could place it beneath the glass printing plate and paint over the top.  This work well for the plate, however, I ran across a couple of problems with the actual printing.

 

 

In Print 1, initially it appeared successful until I noticed that I had not given any attention to the outstretched leg. This occurred because I had used a charcoal drawing beneath the glass plate and it appeared that it had been painted, when it hadn’t. I also note that the placing of the paper has been too high and there is no border on the top edge of the print, in fact, this has occurred on each of the prints. All of the prints have pros and cons with their results, however, I am pleased that such a complex pose has been more or less achieved in them all. Mostly, I think it is due to lack of experience and skill that there isn’t an overall success in this selection, however, lessons are being learnt all the time!

Exploring landscape and/or natural forms for painted monoprints:

Apple Tree

This motif is something I revisit often, the apple tree grows outside my window and has a gnarled, twisted trunk and branches. I thought this would be a good starting point before leaping straight into a full-blown landscape.

Further painted prints - Tree and Landscape sketchbook prep

Further painted prints – Tree and Landscape sketchbook prep

 

I made a couple of sketches of the tree and a scene from a photograph taken on a recent holiday of a green lagoon set amongst volcanic mountains and black sand.

 

 

 

 

 

Using a simple image of the apple tree with blue sky and green grass, I pulled a few prints in a more painterly fashion.

 

Each print is on A3 white cartridge paper – unfortunately the photograph of the first print has a blue hue in its background. The sky in Print 1 is more patchy than I intended although I like the texture of the tree trunk and grass. Print 2 has a stronger sky, however, I feel that the subject ie the tree itself has suffered through its lack of presence as with Print 3 which is a misted over ghost of 2. In print 4 I used a fine spray of water on existing ink for the sky and reworked the tree and grass. This, I think worked well, in that the subject of the image, the tree, has been given more focus.

Further painted prints - Tree Print 4

Further painted prints – Tree Print 4

 

Moving on from this to the landscape, I decided to use the full-sized sheets of A2. The scene is a black, volcanic beach with a green lagoon, surrounded by volcanic cliffs.

 

Print 1 in retrospect, has worked quite well, however, the painted plate had denser pigment on the cliffs with more texture worked into it. This has not reproduced as I had hoped – probably due to my old friend the black ink. Print 2 has more depth in the cliffs due to a more dilute black ink, the image has a more desolate feeling yet doesn’t convey the actual scene. Print 3 has worked the best as an image and as the scene – looking at it now I am actually quite pleased with it. Print 4 as the ghost print of number 3 describes the scene well, however, there is no texture evident, although this would make a good under painting for working into.

Further painted prints - Landscape Tree Print 3

Further painted prints – Landscape Tree Print 3

 

All in all, this has been a very interesting, experimental and sometimes surprising exercise to perform. I came across a few repeat issues and learnt lessons.

Issues and Lessons Learnt:

  • The cartridge paper was a robust support for printing and the bright white set off the prints clearly
  • I was surprised that the acrylic paint mixed with printing medium was more successful in reproduction than the specific printing ink
  • The black printing ink kept catching me out as it needed to be diluted more that the other inks and paint/medium mixes
  • The registration of the paper onto the plate (hopefully the correct term) was  tricky to place, particularly with the larger prints and paper
  • I tend to get carried away and keep working on the same plate without taking my workspace into consideration, I have to be careful not to dirty my printing paper with used rags and hands (even with gloves on)
  • Am keen to try the oil based inks I have purchased, however, my drying “washing” line is being installed as I type this, so hanging prints to dry will be easier when this is done
  • With a large image, I struggled to keep the paint wet enough by the time the entire plate was complete – maybe the oil based inks will negate this
  • I have to keep an eye on the time I spend on this as I am definitely becoming addicted!!!

The freedom given by using a brush is the least confining of the of the monoprint methods and gives a full range of marks and expressive forms to include in your final print. How have you translated your subject using this freedom? Have you been able to express your ideas fully using the monoprint?

Without really thinking about it, I began exploring what else I could use and what experiments I could perform to make things work for my ideas. Using the brush was great for drawing and for using more receptive inks, I found it limiting for laying down a solid colour and used a roller for this effect. So inadvertently, I may have rushed ahead but I have learnt many lessons and am very keen to see what else can be done.

Painted Monoprint from Life

15/03/15

Painted Monoprints from Life

…Explore a subject as your would in a painting. A painted image on the printing plate can be transferred to your printing paper and produces an exciting and creative response to your subject.

I chose two objects as instructed with different textures and made some sketches in my sketchbook to find the composition I was happy with.

Compositional planning in A4 sketchbook with notes

Compositional planning in A4 sketchbook with notes

 

I was attracted to the spool of string for its textures and pattern of wound thread which was a contrast to the smooth ceramic of the milk jug.

 

 

 

 

 

From the selected sketch I made several prints, mostly reworking the original plate with a variety of marks, tones and ink consistencies.  Understanding the nature of the inks and how they print is a vast learning curve. Allowing the result to reveal itself without too much of a preconceived idea is a lesson in itself.

Again I have used black, brown, orange and gold inks – still awaiting delivery of my supplies but these have worked pretty well regardless.

 

This was interesting and quite surprising in its results. I was disappointed with the black ink, which was quite different in consistency, direct from the tube, to the other inks although they were all water-soluble and the same brand. Generally, I think that Print 3 was probably the most successful:

Print 3 Jug is much more defined - string less so

Print 3 Jug is much more defined – string less so

… although I actually like the last print the best of them all – shame about the orange blob on the string though:

Print 7 Reworked plate from print 6 , misted with water, textured marks and wiping out

Print 7 Reworked plate from print 6 , misted with water, textured marks and wiping out

Lessons learnt:

  • It may well be beneficial to test the inks before using on the image to understand how each behaves with different levels of concentration to water/solvent – even when using the same brands
  • Take care with random drips and blobs that will spoil the overall effect
  • Don’t let preconceived ideas of the end result take root!

Exercise: Experiments in Mark Making and Painted Plates

11/03/16

Exercise: Experiments in Mark Making and Painted Plates

With your printing plate in front of you begin to make patterns of colour using your ink and brushes.

Although I had attended a day’s workshop on monoprinting from a life model a couple of years ago, I found myself very apprehensive about starting putting the ink on the plate.  I am currently waiting on some equipment being delivered but did have some black, orange, brown and gold water based inks and a small budget roller to use, along with a sheet of glass from an old camper van, a small piece of perspex and a shallow plastic tray. This was a good start whilst waiting for the other supplies to arrive. Using some paper from an old, inexpensive sketchbook to start and then some thin card I found lurking at the back of some shelves, I was in a position to have a go.

My attempts are below:

 

Completely unsure of what I was doing. I was too tentative with the first print and completely forgot to leave a border! I preferred the ghost print of Print 2, it gives an impression of shapes with tails and is more pleasing being more faint.

Using black ink in a random pattern and filling in with the orange.

Print 3
Using black ink in a random pattern and filling in with the orange.

 

Remembered to leave a border this time but was struggling to see where to place it. Thought I was being clever by masking an area with tape. I merrily continued and didn’t worry about inking over the tape and then completely forgot to remove it from the plate before placing the paper down and making the print. Not overly successful, so many things to remember!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here the  lessons learnt related to the amount of ink added to the plate. Thickness of ink is a major factor of success or failure. If too thin, the print won’t be strong enough, too thick and any subtleties that had been added would be obliterated, plus the ink may bleed over the edges. The ghost print shows more variations of printed ink.

Further Experiments

 

As previous attempts had too thick ink, I tried diluting it with water but overdid it. It blended wet in wet in the print, which, although wasn’t the intention, may be an interesting effect if it was. Plus, the ink again bled over the edges. The ghost print was more interesting and I liked the way the different colours printed over each other with less ink on the plate.

 

I was going for the Mr Kipling Fondant Fancies icing effect here, totally did not work as I thought.  The ghost print was nondescript. I need to be more inventive.

 

In Print 10, the random scratched marks disappeared apart from the strongest of them. In the ghost print, more marks were scratched out with the twig before taking the second impression. This made me think about using an already used plate as just the basis for another design.

 

Following on from Print 10, I surmised that the inconsistent inking with a brush must have been responsible for obliterating the scratched out marks, so this time I used a roller to apply the base layer of ink. Again, I scratched into the ink with random marks, however, it made no difference as these marks were lost in the printing too.  It must therefore, be purely down to using too much ink on the plate. As the ghost prints always seemed to be more successful, I thought I’d keep reusing the same plate, building up the design using whatever I was left with after each print. This made me less precious about the results, more experimental and adventurous. The ink application is key and I liked the use of the roller – sometimes just re-using the ink that was left on it from before.

Example of one plate re print 6

Example of one plate re print 6

 

This is an example of the inked plate for Print 6 – it is surprising how much the print was unlike the plate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

After all the experimentation, the final print was the one I liked best. It had brown, orange and gold ink, which was rollered, brushed on and scratched out. The only reason I stopped here was because I ran out of paper!

Print 18 Rollered with existing ink on previous plate, making overlapping squares in opposite corners, random scratch marks

Print 18
Rollered with existing ink on previous plate, making overlapping squares in opposite corners, random scratch marks

Lessons Learnt

  • Amount of ink is crucial to maintaining any mark making in the print
  • Keep a border around the design
  • Concentrate at every step to avoid unintentional transference of ink
  • Keep area clean
  • Keep hands clean
  • Expect the unexpected and work with it