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.

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 4: Textured and Combination Monoprints

27/04 – 01/05/16

Taking into account the opportunities for a different size and colour range in a single monoprint, this project allows you the freedom to create prints from your own subjects and imagination which combine two or more of the techniques you have already experienced.

Try to find four contrasting  subjects which will lend themselves to the different techniques… You can make several versions of the subject so that you have a selection to choose from before you send your work to your tutor.

Working through my ideas in my sketchbook helped clarify my subject’s potential for success and variety. This, together with sketches, notes and selection took a whole day and my process is detailed in my sketchbook – photos below:

Project 4 sketchbook and notes 1

Project 4 sketchbook and notes 1

Project 4 sketchbook and notes 2

Project 4 sketchbook and notes 2

Project 4 sketchbook and notes 3

Project 4 sketchbook and notes 3

Project 4 sketchbook and notes 4

Project 4 sketchbook and notes 4

As documented in my sketchbook, I finally decided to use the pot/vase/urn as the subject for my prints. Although a simple object, the creative treatment is unlimited.

Textured and Combination Monoprints – Still Life/Abstract

Printing plate and registration

Printing plate and registration


As I would need to make many layers of print for my experiments, I was keen to spend time on the registration of the prints to ensure success each time. The Monoprinting Handbook on the essential reading list suggests using graph paper, marking this for various paper sizes and placing the glass printing plate on top of this. I also marked the edges of the glass, as it can slide during the printing process, this ensures everything is returned to its right place before registering the paper again. This was all time-consuming but worth every second. Masking tape was also stuck beneath the plate at the top to secure the paper with each pull.



First print with back drawing - plate re-inked with yellow

First print with back drawing – plate re-inked with yellow



Beginning my first attempt, I tried some back drawing into yellow ink of rough leaf shapes. I was then going to use actual leaf masks to build up the texture, again in yellow.


First print with back drawing - leaves placed for textural natural masks

First print with back drawing – leaves placed for textural natural masks





At this point, I forgot to remove the leaves and use their impression, and instead, attempted to use them as a positive mask.  Whilst applying pressure, the fresh, green leaves bled into the paper and left unwanted leaf stains. I had to discard this paper and try again. Luckily, after preparing the new sheet of paper and removing the leaves, I noticed and remembered that I should be using the leaves’ impressions.



In the above gallery is the first pull on the fresh sheet of paper with the printing plate inked up with red and leaf masks placed ready for the next. To ensure that the leaves were pressed evenly into the ink, I laid a sheet of A3 newsprint over the plate and carefully applied pressure, revealing quite a nice print in itself. The next pull on the print paper revealed some lovely texture from the leaves in red over the yellow.


This was supposed to be the final piece, however, at the end I felt it didn’t have enough impact and I felt I had to experiment more with the shapes and printing paper.

Attempt 2 - beginning with pots rather than texture

Attempt 2 – beginning with pots rather than texture


This second attempt was going fairly well and then I noticed that the registration at the bottom of the image was going awry. I decided to abandon this and try again.


Following on from the second attempt - masks removed and a print taken

Following on from the second attempt – masks removed and a print taken

Although I did take another print with the masks removed which was really interesting, however, had begun with the brown, which I felt may dull any subsequent colours.


I did try overprinting with red and orange, however, I proved myself right regarding the colours.

Overprinted with some red and orange but would become muddy

Over-printed with some red and orange but would become muddy






My next thought was that I had omitted to try any other printing paper and had previously prepared an A2 sized piece of brown wrapping paper. It had been flattened under heavy books overnight as was from a roll, so it seemed a shame not to try it out.


Third real attempt at this project piece - A3 on A2 brown paper with some back drawing

Third real attempt at this project piece – A3 on A2 brown paper with some back drawing


Using the more matt side of the paper was interesting as it had a degree of absorbency and texture itself that the other papers didn’t. I have to admit to deepening the colours in the photo as it wasn’t showing up at all. The actual print is just a little less colour saturated but this is closer than the version that wasn’t enhanced. Rather than using any masked texture, I worked more back drawing into the image. Some, by drawing around the positive masks and some by inscribing patterns on the pots themselves eg trailing stems and leaves and geometric pattern. Again this was just not strong enough for the final project 4 piece, however attractive I found it.




I began the final version by taking a ghost print from the last inking of the brown paper print, with all masks removed. This worked surprisingly well, with the back-drawing coming out in reverse ie a white outline and included all the pattern I had drawn freehand. The colour was a pleasing mottled orange and this made a great start to this image. Unfortunately I was too carried away and forgot to photograph this clearly.


From all the experiments and previous attempts, many lessons were learnt. Some versions were pleasing but lacked boldness and strength. I tried to use bold and dark colour from the start, however, in a considered way. I think the final version has a good image, strength and balance of shapes, colour and tone. I do, however, prefer the first layout but felt I shouldn’t undo the good and begin again. I’m glad I did as this pushed me to increase my patience and consideration before ploughing on regardless.

Below are a few of the stepping stone prints taken:


Final Print for Project 4

Final Print for Project 4

It transpires that I totally misread the brief and I should have produced prints of four contrasting subjects not chosen just one from the four. Leaving myself just 2 days before the assignment was to be sent off to my tutor, after the initial panic, I decided to just get on with it. I had also not really considered the fourth subject so worked through ideas the previous evening to my marathon day of printing.

Textured and Combination Monoprints – Portrait

04 – 05/05/16

I decided to try to work on a portrait using the three primary colours to denote tones i.e. yellow for lights, red for mid-tones and blue for the darks, I could also use the white of the paper for the highlights which would be used sparingly as I would for a portrait painting. Using my sketchbook I drew the outlines and also the main planes of the face to give form. Using coloured pencils in the colours stated above I coloured the face, hair and hat as described. This seemed to work well in my sketchbook. To translate this in the print, I decided to paint onto the printing plate using a scaled up version of the portrait beneath the glass as a guide. Prior to this, I also took a tracing of the necessary lines as I was intended to back draw into the print to enhance the darkest shadows with black hatching.

I tried back drawing into the painted plate colours, however, this did not have much if any definition. I was concerned that if I covered the entire plate with black ink, that it would muddy the other colours and ruin the print. By wiping out the lightest areas of the plate, I was hoping to avoid this. The result, unfortunately, was not overly strong anyway. Looking at this print retrospectively, I feel that had I used the black over the entire the plate, I may have avoided the overly “Simpsonesque” appearance, and the black mottled ink would have given a more rugged image of the sitter. In the end, it looks like he is wearing some dodgy red spectacles and has severe jaundice! Again, had I had more time I would have learnt from this and adjusted my approach.

Project 4 - Portrait - painted plate and back drawing

Project 4 – Portrait – painted plate and back drawing


Textured and Combination Monoprints – Life Study

Project 4 sketchbook and notes 1

Project 4 sketchbook and notes 1


Luckily I had put a lot of effort into the preparatory work in my sketchbook and thought over many ways of working this through. I had initially thought of working just in black and white, with inking the plate, pulling out the highlights and working into it with back drawing. However, when I came to it, I decided to back draw from the outset and if necessary, then add painting to the plate for the next pull.



The first print taken with the back drawn figure was a nice loose drawing, however, there was nowhere really to go with it. Therefore, I decided to wipe out the plate to just show the darks and print that. This came out very nicely and I was encourage enough to ink the plate with yellow and draw back into the print. The drawing did not show up but the contrast of the black and yellow was very effective. I repeated the wiping out with red ink for the darks, this was very faint. As back drawing would not have worked here, I decided to define the red further by painting on the plate. This is quite nice but has lost a lot of the spontaneity of the earlier layers.  I worked into it a bit more and took another print but it didn’t improve it overall. It’s the outlining I don’t like although it didn’t really look that strong on the plate. I do however, like the hair and the hand has come out well

Whilst the red ink was still wet, I tried an over-print of the first back drawn pull – although again it didn’t really add anything. Looking at these two prints, I really struggled as to which one to select for assignment. The colour print sort of works but looks too contrived and there is no sense of the model’s environment other than the steps. The first one, however, has much more feeling and the model is integrated into the space much better. In the end I selected the colour print, purely because we were asked to produce a print of two or more combined methods, otherwise, it would have been the other one.

Project 4 Life Study Contender for Final

Project 4 Life Study Contender for Final

Project 4 Life Study Final

Project 4 Life Study Final


Textured and Combination Monoprints – Landscape

Project 4 sketchbook and notes 3

Project 4 sketchbook and notes 3

The last one of my marathon day! Again, I had done a lot of preparatory work for this and had decided to use a painting plate for the main landscape and a mask for the focal point of the tree. I had also mulled over tearing some handmade paper to use to mask the sky from the land, the layers of hedges and the pathway. This worked quite well, with the easily frayed edges of the paper giving a soft, organic edge. I tried to incorporate all the tricks of composition with a vanishing point, aerial perspective, rule of thirds with texture. Some worked well, some not so. The aerial perspective is really at the mercy of the printing process, with all that entails i.e., consistency of ink, drying times and paper absorbency. not to mention my embryonic skill level.

With the foreground, I felt that texture of the grass and stony path were important and so employed some natural and man-made masks to assist. I also played around with the sky a little, using a cotton bud and my fingers to add clouds with some purple/grey shadows. These worked quite nicely, but disappeared behind the tree in the end. The trickiest part was the tree itself, it would have been easier to use a negative mask but with all the criss-crossing branches, there would not have been a complete stencil. Mulling this over, whilst walking the dog, (along the very spot I was using for my subject), I thought the only way I could this would be to draw around a positive mask, transfer that to the printing plate using fresh paper and wipe out all of the negative shapes. This could then be printed onto the landscape print. This I did, with a little back drawing for texture. However, this was not as defined as I wanted. I then returned to the plate and painted into the tree, adding finer branches and twigs and the long shadows in a dark blue. When the paper was registered, I again worked quickly and loosely into the bark and branches.


This took a lot of careful thinking and planning before execution. I was really aware that it was now nearly 8pm and it had been an 11 hour day and that I was really tired. I had scrupulously checked my hands were clean before touching the paper and cleaned down edges all day.

On lifting the last pull of the landscape print, a big smile crossed my face – briefly! I’d not noticed the over-painting at the top edges and a few strokes of black ink had printed! I was so disappointed as, if this had not happened, I would have been thrilled with the result. (You have to bear in mind, I’m new at this so easily pleased!)

Project 4 Landscape - final print

Project 4 Landscape – final print

The photo is a little dark due to fading light.


Lessons Learnt

  • Once you’ve got the registration cracked, the creativity can flow
  • Clean down all edges – the one time you don’t will be the one that you can’t repeat
  • Read the brief properly
  • Prepare your work station properly makes for efficiency and speed