T1-MMT-P4 Mono and collatype printing – initial research

Printmaking in the context of this Mixed Media for Textiles course is approached with a different mindset to a standard printmaking course – or at least that’s my interpretation of it. The long term goal is not is not to develop skills in a range of printmaking techniques and media in order to make print artworks. Instead we use printmaking as one stage of creation. The techniques may be used in a sketchbook, generating ideas. Or it could be combined with other techniques we’ve been exploring – paper folding perhaps, and molding links to collatype, but what about a crumpled print partially embedded in resin? The course notes suggest starting with light cartridge paper or similar, then move on “different surfaces including paper and fabric”. That’s enticingly open. Sample making and risk taking remain key.

https://www.pinterest.com/fibresofbeing/printing/ is a pin board of my research images for this part of the course.

Naum Gabo  Opus Ten © Trustees of the British Museum

Naum Gabo
Opus Ten
© Trustees of the British Museum

Naum Gabo’s print was taken from an end-grain block of wood. This was one of a number of variants. Paper, pressure, inks were varied. “Faults” may be accepted or rejected, forms and lines in the image added, changed, removed using wax. Looking at images of Gabo’s three dimensional constructions (such as Linear Construction in Space No. 1 in the Guggenheim – link), there are very clear affinities to the monoprint – it’s interesting to note a quote on the British Museum website referring to the “depths” of the print (link).

I think Gabo’s exploratory approach and choice of materials (perspex and nylon filaments in Linear Construction in Space No. 1) make his work particularly relevant to my course.

Morning mists by A Henry Fullwood, held in the Art Gallery of New South Wales (http://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/collection/works/4579/) is a colour monotype showing an atmospheric river scene. The hazy appearance of the print works well with his subject. Of particular interest to me is the artist’s preference to increase feeling in the image by hand rubbing with an ivory paper-knife rather than using the even pressure of a printing press. Fullwood was also very conscious of the different surfaces and texture provided by various papers.

My course suggests the heel of the hand or a roller to transfer the image. I have a little craft press – intended for embossing or cutting with dies, but I’ve done some initial experiments using it as a print press. I need to observe carefully to see the variation in results each method gives me.

Rebecca Jewel Perspectives on a Museum 1 2007 © The Trustees of the British Museum

Rebecca Jewel
Perspectives on a Museum 1
© The Trustees of the British Museum

I find Rebecca Jewel’s work fascinating and beautiful. There is deep thought and study behind it – Jewell lived for a year in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea, studied social anthropology at university, did a PhD in natural history illustration, is artist in residence at the British Museum. The Statement on her website presents Jewell’s work as “exploring the shared histories between the people that made these artefacts, the explorers, anthropologists and travelers that obtained them and the museum that now houses them”. For me that’s perilous ground – there’s a lot of bad and unresolved history – but this isn’t a shallow exploitation of the exotic.

The print shown above is complex, layered, textured. It is very, very precise. Rebecca Jewell’s more recent work actually prints on feathers, often using historical images of birds. The feather is more than a presentation method. Its structure has a direct influence on the print. I think that’s a key idea in introducing printmaking in a mixed media course.

More resources on Rebecca Jewell: http://www.rebeccajewell.com/; videos at https://vimeo.com/user18649491

Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione The Creation of Adam c. 1642

Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione
The Creation of Adam
c. 1642

Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione is credited with inventing the technique of monoprint. An image of his work The Creation of Adam, c. 1642, can be seen in great detail on the google art project (link). After all the flurry of making texture with every “tool” that fell into my line of sight at the workshop, Castiglione seems to use one, perhaps a stick or paintbrush handle, superbly well. Repeated lines, sharp angular lines, flowing lines, changes in direction on rock, water, the fiery light behind God’s head, the variations of depth going into the ink…

The immediate lesson I’m taking from this is the impact of repetition and variation with restricted means.

I’ve been reading different definitions of monoprint and monotype. An interesting sentence from the Dictionary of Art & Artists‘ entry on monotype: “The only reason for doing this instead of painting directly on the paper is the quality of texture given by the pressure of printing” (Murry, P. & Murry, L. (1997) Dictionary of Art & Artists. London: Penguin Books Ltd.) The first edition of the dictionary was published in 1959. I wonder if that’s still true in the way the monotype technique continues to develop. It certainly reinforces the need to be conscious of impact on results of both of the material onto which I print and the transfer method. My early experiments (subject of the next post) have all used 110 gsm white cartridge paper. I’ll need to switch up when starting the actual projects.

More research to come, but I interleaving it with practical work.

T1-MMT-P4 Mono and collatype printing – initial research
Textiles 1 – Mixed Media for Textiles
Part 4: Mono and collatype printing
Initial research

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October 2015

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