The instructions for this exercise begin by asking for a simple composition from my sketchbook. I have to admit my sketchbook work, so effective in the last assignment, has fallen apart. It was focused on recording and exploring my 3D samples, or else the dimensional works of artists I was researching. This approach hasn’t translated to working in print-making. The last exercise already felt like sketching and I haven’t got that important feedback loop happening. That will have to change.
In the meantime I’ve been inspired by a painting in The Greats: masterpieces from the National Galleries of Scotland exhibition which recently opened at the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW). Fellow OCA student Claire (link) and I have been attending weekly lectures at AGNSW all year, with a variety lecturers focusing on paintings in the exhibition. We’re finally able to see the works themselves, so I was able to actually spend some time with Monet’s Poplars on the Epte before attempting to sketch out a highly simplified version as inspiration for this exercise.
Print p4-37This print uses Akua intaglio inks printed on 100gsm white cartridge paper using the Ezicut press.
Blue was rolled thinly over the entire plate, then yellow, green (a mix of the blue and yellow) and a little violet was applied using a paint brush to form trees and bushes. Polyester fill that had been textured with a heat gun (Sample p1-67 21-April-2015) was used to remove ink unevenly from the sky area. The deep and varied texture of the polyester was very effective in suggesting random clouds. Some fine tulle was used to add texture to the tree and bush areas and to spread colour up into the sky and down into the water. Blue and violet was rolled onto clingwrap that had been pulled into linear folds. This was then pressed into the lower part of the plate to create a rippling water effect. Tree trunks and their reflections were suggested printing from the corner of a piece of styrofoam that had been painted with violet.
I like this print very much. There is a technical problem on the lower right edge with a couple of blobs of blue ink, but otherwise I am satisfied with my techniques. There is a range of values, with overall good coverage of ink and the underlying colour of the paper playing its part. The different textures produced are each appropriate for suggesting the parts of the image. The limited colour range – just three inks – is cohesive but sufficiently varied for interest. The simplified composition and changed proportions are effective, graphic but still suggesting some depth in the landscape. I see it as a good modern interpretation of my source material.
The textures and mixing of colours are interesting at a detail level and have potential to be developed at different scales or in different media.
Print p4-38This is a detail of the ghost print of p4-37, taken on white cartridge paper using the Ezicut press and after rolling release agent onto the plate.
Most of the ink had been taken up in the first print and overall the ghost is just a collection of blotches in a pale blue haze. However there is a bit more centre top and I like the grainy detail. You can see more of the blue that was rolled on behind the trees – an important element in the coherence of the earlier print.
Print p4-39Although intending to continue the focus on exploration of the specialty printing inks, I decided to experiment with other media. This is the same base composition, drawn using water soluble crayons onto a sheet of acetate with a border created in masking tape. Printing was onto damp Stonehenge paper using a bamboo baren.
I used a range of blue, green, yellow and purple crayons, varying textures with swirling marks in the trees and bushes, light long horizontals in the sky, and many shorter and overlapping horizontals in the water. To create the tree trunks lines were scratched into the crayon using a bamboo skewer, then drawn over in a range of browns. The tape border was removed before printing.
There are some technical issues. Some extra wax was caught at the edges and should have been cleaned off. There are also flecks from loose fragments that could have been brushed off.
The different textures don’t jell together. The swirls in the trees and lines in the water aren’t sufficiently differentiated. The drawn lines remain consistent in width without covering the ground paper and without enough variety. The sky just looks a scrappy scribble. There is more blending of strokes on the smaller trees and possibly this is worth pursuing. At the detail level I like the scratched marks and the way the brown crayon sits in them. I should explore/exploit this more if working again in this technique.
Print p4-40I sprayed the plate with a mist of water before taking the ghost print on rice paper. The full image is unbalanced, blotchy and uninteresting. In the detail, I like the combination of grainy and watery textures. I would like to try creating this effect over a larger area, and perhaps with regions of different colours.
Print p4-41I tried the composition one more time, working in oil pastels on the acetate sheet, again creating a border using masking tape. Printing was onto cartridge paper.
I attempted to improve technique by cleaning the border and brushing off loose specks, but without complete success. Texture was varied in the sky by blending the pastel with my fingers.
I wasn’t able to get much colour transfer using the baren, so I tried pressing with a warm iron, thinking it would loosen the oil pastel. I did get more colour, but a lot was left on the plate. The heat buckled the plate. Attempting a ghost print was totally ineffectual.
The finish of the print is beautifully silky-smooth. That’s really my only positive. Unless new inspiration strikes I wouldn’t bother with it again.
However I am curious about some fabric crayons that I have. If time allows I would like to try a similar technique to draw and then transfer onto fabric.
T1-MMT-P4-p1-e2 Drawing onto the printing plate – three variations
Part 4: Mono and collatype printing
Project 1: Monoprinting
Exercise 2: Drawing onto the printing plate