T1-MMT-P4-p1-e3 Initial back drawing

Print p4-20

Print p4-20
Click image for larger view

Back drawing or trace monotypes involve rolling the print plate with ink, placing paper on it, then pressing on the back of the page to transfer some ink on the front. I was excited about the potential in my search for energetic lines, but apprehensive given the accidental creation of print p4-20 (25-October-2015). In that I had intended to protect the inked plate with a piece of newprint placed on gently, but virtually all the ink transferred with no additional pressure.

All the prints shown below were on white A4 110 gsm cartrige paper (with one exception), using akua intaglio inks, a 15 x 24 cm print plate (cut from a sheet meant for drypoint etching), a chopstick as drawing tool and a baren for the ghost prints.

Print p4-52

Sketch 20141114

Sketch 20141114
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My focus drawing was a brush and ink sketch done last year, not previously blogged. I did a number of “absolute beginner” workshops with Brenda Tye at the Art Gallery of NSW last year – pastels, coloured pencils, ink and watercolour. This sketch is based on some inspiration photocopies provided by Brenda, but I don’t have an attribution. Given the proportions of my plate I focused on the figure on the left hand side.

My ink mix was similar to the last couple of prints – around 50/50 ink and extender, quite a lot of blender added, thoroughly mixed.

Print p4-52

Print p4-52

The paper quickly soaked up the ink where-ever it touched. Looking very carefully a few lines can be distinguished, marginally more solid than the heavy mottling around them.

Referring back to the akua website, I should have used the ink thicker, with no blender.

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Print p4-53

Print p4-53

Print p4-53

The next attempt used around 70/30 ink to extender, with no blender.
Once again there was very heavy transfer of ink even in areas with no pressure used – and I was extremely careful not to touch or rest my hand on the paper where it was over the plate. The paper lifted and shifted slightly at the beginning, so I held it down on the left edge.
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Print p4-54
Perhaps it was the cartridge paper, too absorbent. I quickly did some backdrawing using dry stonehenge paper on the ink left on the glass rolling area.
Print p4-54

Print p4-54

I tried to work very quickly, allowing no time for accidental absorption. There is a lot more variation in tone, but still a lot of unintentional transfer.

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Print p4-55
Perhaps the ink needed to be thicker. Looking to what I had at hand, I used akua tack thickener, which is intended to thicken akua liquid pigment rather than the intaglio inks I have. There is a “modifier mag mix” product available which would be more appropriate. Still, wanting heavier roll-up it seemed worth a try. The tack thickener was like runny honey and slightly loosened the ink if anything.

Print p4-55

Print p4-55

The result is paler than seen here, but there is a glimmer of hope. The lines are clearer, there is variation in tone. There is still too much unintentional transfer, but it is reduced. The lines I can see look wonderful and free.

Interestingly, I had mixed and used much less ink than usual. I have been trying to roll very thin layers of ink on the plate, but lots of thin layers trying to build a depth of colour. Was I using too much ink? Also perhaps the border lines I was drawing pressed the entire page down too much.

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Print p4-56
This print introduced two changes. First much less ink on the plate – still thin layers, but fewer of them, a mix of intaglio ink and extender with no modifiers.

Secondly I omitted the border framing lines. Still wanting to fill space, I added wing effects to my figure. I tried to work quickly and not too densely.

Print p4-56

Print p4-56

Print p4-56 detail

Print p4-56 detail
Click image for larger view

I was, and remain, excited by this print. It is still patchy, the effect is totally uncontrolled, but there is variation in tone, a fine and energetic line, and I like the way my motif fits on the page.

There is additional transfer of ink where lines run closely together, but perhaps with care and experience this could be used to positive effect.

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Print p4-57
I took the ghost print using the bamboo baren.

Print p4-57

Print p4-57

There was still a lot of ink on the plate after the initial print. Although the colour isn’t solid I think for my purposes the lightly mottled effect works. There is a clear, fine, white line where the back drawing was done, with a rather blotchy effect in the areas of unintentional transfer.

I would like to have a bit more control of tone overall to add to the interest of the image, but I’m happy with the consistent, energetic, fine lines. The figure (if you perceive it as that) is solid, still, but not static.

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Print p4-58
Next I introduced more colour, rolling in bands of red and blue across the plate. I turned it to a horizontal format, and as inspiration turned to the middle group of figures in my initial brush and ink sketch.

I was interrupted at this point, and it was wonderful to realise how keen I was to get back to work now the initial frustrations seemed resolved and I could move on from technical issues to a wider exploration.

Print p4-58 detail

Print p4-58 detail

Print p4-58

Print p4-58
Click image for larger view

The image is quite unbalanced. I actually like it better upside down but have left the photograph in this orientation as a reminder to myself that a little more consideration and less spontaneity could be worthwhile.

There are some areas of line that are light and varied, almost springy. I need to move beyond my trusty chopstick. There is very little accidental transfer away from the drawn lines. Lighter, faster rolling, fewer layers and not overworking in an attempt to get a totally even distribution is working well for me.

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Print p4-59

Print p4-59

Print p4-59

The ghost print, taken with the baren. The lines, the placement and filling of the page, the blending of the lines of colour all work well. The slight diagonals give movement without sliding off the page.

I see three ladies knitting and chatting as they bob on their raft in the evening light, but I’m open to other interpretations.

I’ve been cropping the images to show more detail, so it’s not apparent how crooked the printed area is on the page. When I was just trying to get an image I liked that seemed unimportant, but a little more care and craftsmanship is called for.

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Print p4-60

Sample p3-33

Sample p3-33
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It was time to use printmaking as a tool in developing my work. I brought out sample p3-33 (14-September-2015) as my sketch subject.

I was thinking of layers in a few different ways. One was the exciting layered prints OCA student Claire achieved recently in a workshop with Gary Shinfield (her post). I’m very interested in the process of going from a sketch to overlaying different sections to create an abstract but coherent work.

I was also intrigued by a comment Lottie, another OCA student, left about sculpting with time in a print “Layers of time on the glass plate” (her comment here, her blog here). Added to this was the exploration of space by Braque, whose work I studied during Understanding Western Art (9-February-2014). Even more, there is Duchamp’s study of gravity and the indeterminate nature of things in 3 Standard Stoppages, which could also be seen as a layering of time (14-December-2014).

Print p4-60 layer 1

Print p4-60 layer 1
Click image for larger view

A jumble of influences, but I decided to make two prints each of three layers, first yellow then red then blue. Rather than one page being three initial prints and the second three ghost prints I would mix them up. Each layer would be a line sketch based on the resin sample, but from different angles and different scales.

Print p4-60 detail

Print p4-60 detail

Print p4-60

Print p4-60
Click image for larger view

This print had the initial yellow line, the ghost of the red (I forgot to take a progress shot) and the final blue line.

The is complex interaction of line and colour. It’s not quite right as a complete image. There’s a lot of noise and no coherence. As a tool for re-seeing and further understanding the original sample it was very effective. I also think there are multiple areas that could be isolated and used as the basis of further design development. The process was purposeful and exciting. I like the way lines fit and sometimes go beyond the print area. As a record of a process, an overlaid series of times and points of view, I find this very interesting.

I placed the print plate and paper by eye and there is clear mis-registration of the layers. In one sense I don’t mind this, but it’s a distraction and complication that doesn’t add anything to the result.

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Print p4-61

Print p4-61 layer 2

Print p4-61 layer 2
Click image for larger view

This detail shows the first two layers of the sibling print. I really like those lines. To me they have purpose, tension, a spring and point of view, bursting out of the print area as they try to describe the form of the resin “elephant”.

Print p4-61

Print p4-61

Print p4-61 detail

Print p4-61 detail
Click image for larger view

The third layer confuses the image. The registration issues are very obvious.

My perception of depth is confused by this print in a way that I find slightly unsettling and unpleasant but intriguing. The red line seems to push forward – mostly. I would expect the mixed green to move backwards but instead the bottom yellow seems to be clambering forward over the overlaid blue. It doesn’t work, but I keep looking at it trying to understand it.
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Thoughts for the next set of experiments:
* set up a registration system
* try different tools, different marks
* attempt to shade by pressing areas by hand
* I love working freely – drawing directly on the paper without being able to see the line or the edges of the plate is exciting. However I should attempt a more planned, controlled effect and see what it gives me.
* different papers
* different plates – what happens if the plate has texture?
* layering / combining with other monotype methods.

T1-MMT-P4-p1-e3 Initial back drawing
Part 4: Mono and collatype printing
Project 1: Monoprinting
Exercise 3: Back drawing
Initial back drawing

7 Responses to “T1-MMT-P4-p1-e3 Initial back drawing”


  1. 1 Lottie November 15, 2015 at 12:00 am

    Forgive me- I might have missed you trying this having been wrapped up in finishing my assignment, but I’ve been thinking of you and your unease…Gelli printing? Just come across some layered works. Might be a medium that offers you something the plates are not.
    http://medwayfineprintmakers.co.uk/2015/03/21/gelli-prints-monoprinting-with-a-jelly-plate/

  2. 3 karenwoodfield November 16, 2015 at 1:59 am

    I think a lighter weight paper would be a good starting point for your next set of samples. I got some good results with cheap copier type paper before trying out my more special papers next week.

    • 4 fibresofbeing November 16, 2015 at 6:12 am

      Interesting idea Karen. I’ve been nervous of thinner paper just soaking up without pressure – but how can I know without trying it. I also want to try some handmade paper.


  1. 1 T1-MMT-P4-p1-e3 Back drawing continued | Fibres of Being Trackback on November 21, 2015 at 1:35 pm
  2. 2 T1-MMT-P4 Mono and collatype printing: Sorting | Fibres of Being Trackback on January 2, 2016 at 7:27 pm
  3. 3 T1-MMT-P4 Mono and collatype printing: Review | Fibres of Being Trackback on January 3, 2016 at 4:56 pm

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Fabulous figure sculpting workshop with Kassandra Bossell!

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