T1-MMT-P4-p1-e2 Drawing onto the printing plate continued

Print p4-42

sketch_20150914 b

sketch_20150914 b
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My initial attempts in drawing onto the printing plate (3-November-2015) involved areas of texture. Next I wanted to attempt lively lines, and chose as my inspiration an energetic and colourful sketch of a computer motherboard from assignment 3 (14-September-2015). That sketch began with a lively background including rough patches of gesso on kraft paper. The akua printing inks I’m using don’t contain dryers and need to be absorbed. Uncertain whether gesso would absorb, I decided to prepare 118gsm grey sketch paper with broad sweeps of light coloured conte crayon.

I tried to adjust the consistency of the inks using akua blending medium, but wasn’t able to find a consistency and a drawing tool which supported the fast, lively lines I wanted. Nothing I tried held ink and released it in an ongoing line. Slow careful dabs with constant return to the ink pool was frustrating. Disappointed with a line from a cotton bud, I experimented by winding wool fibres around the end of a bamboo skewer – a little like beginning to spin. This held a bit more ink in a fairly fine line and was the best of a bad bunch.

The print was taken on dry paper using the Ezicut press.

Print p4-42 detail

Print p4-42 detail

Print p4-42

Print p4-42
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The ink appears to have adhered quite well and been absorbed by both the paper and the prepared colour. At the detail level there is some interaction between the media which may hold promise. I also like the movement and complexity in the green and blue-purple lines created using the edges of a paddlepop stick and credit card. The little red tadpole shown bottom right of the detail image also has some energy and variety.

The use of the conte crayon holds promise too. It’s a kind of reversal of Degas’s drawing over monoprints, which is of passing interest and suggests further layering possibilities.

The print as a whole is dull and static, fragmented and without a sense of purpose.

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Print p4-43

Print p4-43

Print p4-43

Print p4-43 detail

Print p4-43 detail
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This next print is very similar to the previous one, but the paper was sprayed with water before the print was taken. In planning I wondered if this would affect the interaction of conte crayon and printing ink.

I experimented further with various amounts of wool on the skewer and did feel it was giving some control and a little better continuity in the lines. Printing on damp paper had the unfortunate effect of spreading my lines, losing the fluid movement I wanted. The conte crayon seems a bit more solid and less likely to rub off. The detail image highlights some colour mixing which I think is the best feature of an uninspiring result.

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Print p4-44

Print p4-44 detail 1

Print p4-44 detail 1

20140120 poster

20140120 poster
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Print p4-44

Print p4-44
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Print p4-44 detail 2

Print p4-44 detail 2
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For this print I chose to revisit a still-life composition that I attempted in a variety of media during the Understanding Western Art module (link).

Incorporating techniques from exercise 1, I started by rolling stripes of colour over the entire area. Most of the other prints shown in this post are on A4 paper. This is A3 sized, working on the glass sheet (previously the top of a coffee table) that I use for preparing inks. Texture was created in the background by pressing a piece of hessian into the surface to lift some ink. Further texture came accidentally from loose fibres of wool left from my earlier experiments.

The area that would be the bowl was then wiped entirely, while the bottle area was dabbed and scrapped for partial removal of ink. I wiped around the edges to neaten them and took the print on white cartridge paper using the bamboo baren.

Next I added ink onto the plate, brushing on the bowl, brushing and scraping the bottle, and dabbing shadows. I realised I’d lost the depth and sense of a table top in the initial print, so added some dabbed shading to try to rescue that. I hadn’t set up any registration lines, but wasn’t too far off replacing the paper and printing the second layer.

The overall result is clumsy and flat. I had a lot of trouble with the shoulders of the bottle. However I am happy with the screw-top of the bottle and the shadow behind it, seen in the detail image above. The mix of textures and colours works well.

Simplified blocks of colour on the bowl, applied with a paint brush, have printed poorly but I think show potential for a strong, graphic approach. Unfortunately the overall coverage of ink is patchy and light, not at all what I wanted. The colour is insipid. The image seems lost between graphic, flat simplification and a more realistic depth, not achieving either. At this stage I was not enjoying printing at all.

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Print p4-45

Print p4-45

Print p4-45

Felt tip pens, sample p2-76

Felt tip pens, sample p2-76
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Print p4-45 preparation

Print p4-45 preparation
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Print p4-45 partial transfer

Print p4-45 partial transfer
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Print p4-45 detail

Print p4-45 detail
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Next I chose another earlier sketch, this time from assignment 2 (3-August-2015), a felt tip pen interpretation of sample p2-76. This time the idea was to print using media that is good at lines – water-soluble crayon – together with printing inks that are good at areas.

I drew the outline on the plate in crayon, and it was wonderfully freeing to just draw!
It felt fresh and spontaneous and energetic – favourite words!

I rolled and drew on printing inks using a mixture of tools, focused on movement and no longer looking for fine lines. Some of the ink went on quite thickly. When I printed onto damp paper (using the ezicut press), it lifted off with a squelch and a lot of texture – but no trace of my crayon lines.

That’s not quite true – there are the faintest marks swirling on the top of the box and in the top plumes. Maybe. I’d only sprayed the white cartridge paper, and perhaps it wasn’t damp enough.

Although not at all to plan, I quite like the result. Energy, texture, movement are all good. Although solid and centred there is a lot happening and it looks about to become airborne. The complementary colours with lots of neutral grey and white around them burst from the page. Being released from my hunt for fine lines freed me to create loose areas of rich colour.

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Print p4-46

Print p4-46 detail

Print p4-46 detail

Print p4-46

Print p4-46
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I still wanted those crayon lines. Without cleaning the plate I added more printing ink on top, mostly using brushes. I sprayed the paper more heavily, used the buren and then the press.

The plume looks good, lines have transferred and there’s a sense of fireworks in part. However look what happened top left of the box – spreading, dissolving lines of crayon. Too much water this time, I think.

Overall I see print p4-45 as more successful – even though further from my original goal.

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Print p4-47

Print p4-47 in progress

Print p4-47 in progress

Print p4-47

Print p4-47
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One more try with the crayon and ink idea. Perhaps putting ink on top of the crayon blocked the moisture and therefore printing of my lines.

I rolled ink onto the plate in rough areas, then tried to add crayon. The crayon just skidded over the surface of the plate and ink. So I decided to split the process into two printings. I printed on dry paper with baren, with the result photographed above.

Next I drew in more crayon on the unwiped plate. There was still some skidding, but dabbing with paper towels helped. I sprayed the front of the same piece of paper and printed with the baren.

This is the least successful of this series of three attempts. The plume at the top doesn’t have enough space and it doesn’t have enough volume with just the lines and no areas of ink. On the other hand the slowly refined mixed media technique is improving.

Overall I think this isn’t the right approach for the expressive lines I was seeking. Backdrawing in the next exercise could be a better approach.

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Print p4-48

Print p4-48

Print p4-48

Print p4-48 in progress

Print p4-48 in progress
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Refocusing on the idea of printing as a background or one step of a longer process, I experimented with creating a textured, layered background.

The plate was rolled with blue, green and brown, both flat and with pieces of bracken underneath, achieving a mottled effect with traces of organic shapes. It was printed onto damp cartridge paper with the bamboo baren.

I then rolled colour onto the fresh plant material and stamped directly onto the page.

While ultimately it would depend on the specific purpose, the result looks too complex to provide a good background. It also looks familiar, something I’ve done in the past.

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Print p4-49

Print p4-49 detail

Print p4-49 detail

Print p4-49

Print p4-49
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The previous print resulted in a lot of pattern in ink on my large glass work area. I printed this on a piece of rice paper, 30 x 27 cm, repeatedly laying the paper on the inked glass and pressing gently.

I then made one more attempt at a simple drawing onto the printing plate – in this instance a cleaned area of the glass with the dimensions of the paper quickly marked on.

Using akua ink, blending medium and extender, I mixed carefully, taking the time to make a flowing ink with all components as fully integrated as I could manage. I painted on the plate using bristle paint brushes, sketching the bracken which grows by the door, making marks that came naturally from the ink and brush, responding to my materials rather than trying to force them down a pre-determined path.

It became an involving, much less frustrating, process. The printed result, made using the baren, has variety and interest without a strong image. I think it could be used as a background or embellished to emphasize certain lines or features. Painting more flowing lines wriggling back and forward for leaves, the mixed ink flowed well.

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Print p4-50

Print p4-50

Print p4-50

sketch 20131107

sketch 20131107
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Print p4-50 detail

Print p4-50 detail
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For my final source I turned again to a sketch done during Understanding Art (link), looking at a jacaranda, thinking about patterning, and experimenting with colour.

I again started by drawing lines on the plate with water soluble crayon, more as a base structure than a dominant part of the final image. I dabbed on blue across the top as a sky and rolled greens below which I textured with a bristle brush. I then mixed around four shades based on violet with added blue and red. These were stamped, brushed and dabbed over the plate.

Wanting to give the crayon a good opportunity to print, I used damp stonehenge paper – soaked in water for 10 minutes then blotted dry in a towel. I printed using the ezicut press, which generally I’ve found gets more colour from the plate.

Knowing my process, I can see elements of all that mark-making in the result. There are arcs of crayon across the page, heavily covered by the inks. The blue and green create some subtle texture and variation across the page. The blossom colours are all very similar and too dark and purple for jacaranda, but the placement with varying density across the page reminds me of looking into a blooming jacaranda tree.

As an image the print has no focus and nothing to lead the eye or provide ongoing interest. There is depth and texture and variety which I think could be very useful as one input to a work.

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Print p4-51

Print p4-51 detail

Print p4-51 detail

Print p4-51

Print p4-51
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Using another piece of damp stonehenge paper and the ezicut press, I captured the ghost of the previous print. The result is a much gentler version of the previous mottling, with more obvious variation in colour across the plate. I think this could be a good candidate for overprinting in the next exercise, back drawing.

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I did the work shown above over a few days last weekend and while also writing my previous post reflecting on tutor feedback. Reviewing the results above I’m beginning to feel myself again. I’ve experimented with technique, not to create a good print but to get an effect I wanted. When the result is unexpected I’ve tried to find opportunities in it. “What if” is returning to my mindset with a sense of adventure rather than desperation. The work is free-er, not ticking course boxes but taking advantage of an opportunity. There are more failures than successes, and I’m not ready to call any of them glorious, but relaxing, refocusing, suspending disbelief are all helping. I feel I’m developing resilience, a self belief and sense of purpose that holds up when things aren’t going smoothly. I wonder if this is accepting and even taking advantage of a different kind of “failure”. It’s not going well, look at the situation and find possibilities in it.

I’m looking forward to the next exercise.

T1-MMT-P4-p1-e2 Drawing onto the printing plate continued
Part 4: Mono and collatype printing
Project 1: Monoprinting
Exercise 2: Drawing onto the printing plate
Continued

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