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

26/09 – 11/10/17

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

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

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

Themes

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

Opposites Attract

Balancing Act

Parallel Lives

Never Ending

Development of ideas in sketchbook 1

Development of ideas in sketchbook 1

Development of ideas in sketchbook 2

Development of ideas in sketchbook 2

 

 

 

 

 

Process and Techniques

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Opposites Attract - dislodged print block on registration

Opposites Attract – dislodged print block on registration

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Opposites Attract - Reprint of text misaligned

Opposites Attract – Reprint of text misaligned

 

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

 

 

 

Opposites Attract - Unsure how to proceed

Opposites Attract – Unsure how to proceed

 

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

 

 

Never Ending - smudged ink

Never Ending – smudged ink

 

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

 

 

 

Parallel Lives - collage paper ripped

Parallel Lives – collage paper ripped

 

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

 

 

Four Prints in a Series

Series of Four Prints

Series of Four Prints

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

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

26/09 – 11/10/17

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Final print with tongue hand coloured red

 

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

Montana Roja on red paper with gold tissue sun

Montana Roja on red paper with gold tissue sun

 

Project 8: Reduction Method Linocutting

18/10 – 05/12/16

Project 8: Reduction Method Linocutting

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

Preparing Your Design

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Planning process for the positive image:

Planning process for negative image:

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

 

The Cutting Process

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Below are some work in progress photos following the process:

 

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

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

Sample print from an edition of eight

Sample print from an edition of eight

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

Below are close-ups of each square image.

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

Research Point: Linocuts

26, 30 & 31/08/16

Research Point

Find a couple of contemporary printmakers whose work you like, and reflect on their techniques. How do they use lino? What sort of marks do they make? What could you learn from them?

Initially I looked over my tutor’s comments following on from my first assignment and researched some of the printmakers that had been noted. These, although, not strictly relating to linocuts but monoprints, were really inspiring for future work. I spent time looking at how they went through their individual processes and inspirations. My thoughts, along with ideas for future personal concepts are at the end of this post.

Regarding linocut printmaking in particular, I found some beautiful work and have selected a couple of the printmakers that particularly caught my eye. I have also created a Pinterest board, where I have pinned a small sample of the work that I really liked and/or found interesting: https://uk.pinterest.com/ginaemmett/contemporary-printmakers/

Mark A Pearce

A painter and printmaker who lives and works in the Lake District, using his surroundings to create beautiful work. His linocuts are colourful and sharp, using the same block in a reductive technique to layer his colours and images, once cut they can not be reused for the earlier layers. I find this thought both terrifying and liberating. His mark making is very precise in appearance, although he manages to reproduce the natural shapes around him with some very straight and angular lines with directional cuts. From these he can produce stunning water reflections and ripples with lots of movement in water, skies and foliage. There are examples of strong contrasting colours and also of subtle shifts in tones of similar colours. The registration of each layer has to be spot on to create these sharp images, one that immediately springs to mind is of the boat in the water called Morning Reflection 42 x 26cm – https://uk.pinterest.com/pin/359232507760718720/

I was also struck by the differing scale of his prints along with orientation best suited to the compositions. Some were quite small at around 17x17cm and the largest I noted was 71x44cm, pretty big for a single block I would think. The images are very painterly, Mark himself, notes that his paintings can look like his prints and vice versa.

Website: http://www.markapearce.co.uk/original-linocut-prints

Angela Newberry

This printmaker has quite a different style – her prints are still colourful but in a more muted sense and I’m wondering whether this is, in part, due to the different papers she uses. This is something I have yet to explore in any depth, I have used different paper but only as far as newsprint, differing weights of cartridge and some fairly standard, flat and strong printing paper. Angela has used handmade papers such as Italian Fabriano, Japanese Hosho (made from the bark of the Kozo tree (paper Mulberry)) and Nepalese Lokta (from the Lokta plant, a member of the Laurel family) in different colours. Unfortunately, I can not really see the variety of printing quality on-screen as I’m sure I would in the “flesh”, however, with handmade paper there must be natural variations that give a unique quality to each print in an edition. The artist is based in Cornwall and Australia although is mostly inspired by the Australian landscape, however, there is a strong Japanese feel to her printmaking – maybe again, because of the papers?

Website: http://angela-newberry.co.uk/index.htm

Hosho Papers – Strong and soft, not liable to shrinkage or expansion. Natural colouring – unbleached.

Ref: David Bull’s Encyclopedia of Woodblock Printing, Woodblock.com

Lokta Papers – Long lasting and durable, strong and easily foldable avoiding crinkling and corrugation, free from germs and highly resistant to insects. Made from the bark of the Lokta sampling when 5-7 feet tall, is cut from the base and regenerates over a few years and is a sustainable resource.

Ref: http://www.papermojo.com/lokta.html

Other Recommended Printmakers

Suggestions from my tutor for printmakers to look at, again images I liked have been added to my Pinterest board – link above:

Terry Frost – Abstract/colourful/joyful

Richard Diebenkorn – Etchings

Pat Steir – Silk screen/etchings/monoprints over the top of screen prints – each individual – there are NO MISTAKES in art just discoveries – inspired by Chinese water painting.

Prunella Clough – Idea development – development of images and compositional choices. Landscapes and geology. Reducing and enlarging – industrial legacies – abstraction of images.

Helen Frankethaler – Abstraction – emotional overload – very expressive – more screen printing and monoprinting.

Shelley Burgoyne – Working from observation – Magadelena series – Etching & linocut. Fabulous pen and ink drawings from which to build prints. Very inventive and creative yet managing to continue to explore her main themes – always finding new ways to express them – thought to take away! Particularly like the Tide drawings 2x2m. Further thoughts in A4 sketchbook.

Possible themes for development:

Have been pondering where I can go regarding developing themes. Looking back at past courses and work, I am always interested in contrasts – be they shadow-light, hard-soft, jagged or rounded, industrial-natural. In Drawing and Painting 1, I was fascinated with cast shadows – making them as important as the object throwing them. Here in my new location, I am drawn to the volcanic rock which was once molten and fluid and is now solid yet can appear rounded or sharp.

  1. Examine contrasts as discussed above:
    1. shadow/light
    2. hard/soft
    3. angular/curved
    4. industrial/natural
  2. Female misogyny – this idea has been floating around in my head for a few months.
    1. what
    2. who
    3. why
    4. how
    5. competition?
    6. jealousy?
    7. male indoctrination?
    8. to be valued by men – the ultimate goal?

“Contrasts” would be more easily translated into a visual context – although for interest would benefit from abstraction and examining the feelings evoked.

Female misogyny, a more conceptual theme that would require much contemplation and expressive experimentation. Again, abstraction of emotions, rules applying to females across cultures, religions, the work place, family hierarchy – plus, I’m sure, many more angles. Maybe explore symbolism as well as expressionism.

Could the two themes be brought together – I’m sure they could with thought…