Archive for the '4 – Mono & collatype printing' Category



T1-MMT-P4-p2-e3 Collatype collage prints – block 1

The final exercise of the assignment asks for a number of collage blocks, bringing together previous learning to create visually textural prints.

I decided to start with a polyfilla block. Looking at my own samples I find the results less obvious than the plates with glued material. There’s more of a transformation, more space for serendipity. I wanted to continue making prints with the gelatin plate and again I preferred the textures from the polyfilla block. I also thought continuity of the plaster across the block allowed for more integration of different areas of texture.

For subject material I turned to my sketchbook and photographs from a trip to Western Australia, travelling from Broome to Perth (see blog post 6-August-2014). We saw a lot of big, open country that I thought would translate well in a collatype.

pinnacles sketch 1

pinnacles sketch 1
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First I thought of a small watercolour, about 17 x 12.5 cm, that I did based on photographs prior to the trip as a test of my travelling sketch kit. This shows the Pinnacles, weathered columns of limestone rising from yellow sand dunes.

pinnacles sketch 2

pinnacles sketch 2
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I didn’t have much time for sketching when we got there, but tried to quickly capture colour and shapes with a glue stick and the coarse sand we stood on.

pinnacles sketch 3

pinnacles sketch 3

However I took many photographs.

Sketch 20151218 - 1

Sketch 20151218 – 1
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An initial rough sketch in pencil suggested the landscape could be simplified into a few zones – sky, background sand, stone, shadow, foreground sand. At this point I was considering overlaying a faint striped monoprint in earth colours, making the image more abstract and suggesting the layers of material deposited in the stone (it was fascinating standing amongst the stones, tracing the same layer across the separated spires).

pinnacles rejected plan

pinnacles rejected plan
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I considered using woven textiles as texture for stones and shadow. I was thinking of some of Sarah Ross-Thompson’s works, such as Loch Light (link), but the sketch showed peculiar blobs tobogganing off the page, not sensitively integrated texture.

The earlier sketch was refined to emphasize the geometry and converted to a form to suit an A4 page.

pinnacles_plan

pinnacles_plan

I referred to my library of textures in previous prints.
Sample p1-70 After

Sample p1-70 After
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The roughness given by heat treated plastic seemed a good match for the stone. For the ripples of foreground sand I chose plastic netting. The heat treated acrylic felt of sample p1-70 (21-Apr-2015) can be seen in print p4-111 (17-Dec-2015) and although that used embossed pvc foam I thought it could translate into the sandy shadows.

Sample p1-71 After

Sample p1-71 After
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While getting out that sample I noticed p1-71, which seemed a good match for a cloudy sky.

collatype plate 4 texture materials in place

collatype plate 4 texture materials in place
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A4 mountboard was used for the base. A photocopy of the final sketch was cut up to create templates. I worked very hard to get the initial layer of polyfilla as flat and even as possible.

The chosen materials were then placed in the setting plaster. I had intended to use two sizes of plastic net in the foreground to create variation in the diagonal lines, then thought the lines would run in the wrong direction so filled the space using the side of a pop stick.

collatype plate 4 in progress

collatype plate 4 in progress
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It was a nasty surprise when I removed the net and discovered a grid instead of the expected diagonals (as seen in the top right of print p4-105, 17-Dec-2015). The plaster was still quite soft, and remedial work with the pop stick followed.

The completed plate was left to dry.

collatype plate 4

collatype plate 4

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Print p4-116

Print p4-116

Print p4-116
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While waiting for the plate to be ready I did some small experiments with some new earthy colours of akua liquid pigment. Red oxide, burnt umber and lamp black were rolled on the gelatine plate. Torn strips of different grades of sandpaper were pressed in and removed before a print was taken on cartridge paper, pressing by hand.

The colours are soft and the textures subtle. They could be useful in Australian landscapes.
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Print p4-117

Print p4-117

Print p4-117
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Print p4-117 detail

Print p4-117 detail
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In a second experiment I rolled ink directly on the sandpaper, then pressed the strips ink-side down onto the gelatin plate. The print was taken on cartridge paper using a baren.

The texture and colour is slightly different using this method.
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Print p4-118
Ultramarine blue akua intaglio ink was rolled across the sky area. Hansa yellow intaglio ink was modified with a few drops of burnt umber liquid pigment and rolled over the landscape area of the plaster plate.

The print was taken on cartridge paper using a brayer.

Print p4-118

Print p4-118

A disappointing result – very little colour transferred.
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Print p4-119
Colours were rolled onto the plate as before. Additional liquid pigment colours were brushed onto the plate in selected areas.

The print was taken on cartridge paper using a baren, then I made heavy use of a variety of wooden clay modelling tools in an attempt to pick up colour from the textured areas.

Print p4-119

Print p4-119

Print p4-119 detail

Print p4-119 detail
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Colour is better balanced in the print than in the photograph, the yellow more an ochre and more integrated.

The different textures are now apparent – the sky is particularly busy. I find individual elements promising but am not convinced by the print as a whole. There is a lot of white and the different parts don’t integrate as well as I’d hoped. The strong pattern and contrast of values in the sky is too dominant. There is no clear focus or path for the eye through the image.
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Print p4-120
Colour was again rolled and painted onto the plate.

I printed onto dry cartridge paper using the ezicut press.

Print p4-120

Print p4-120

The paper is embossed but I think the pressure of the press was insufficient. Colour transfer is very patchy.

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Print p4-121
There is no pressure control on the press itself. Any adjustment has to be in the sandwich of materials passed through.

Given so little colour had transferred on the previous print I decided not to re-ink. I printed again onto dry cartridge paper with additional layers of wool batting to increase the pressure of the press.

Print p4-121

Print p4-121

The results of this print are very poor. The paper is more heavily embossed but colour is patchy.

I was concerned about damage to press and/or plate if pushed further and I decided not to pursue this method.
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Print p4-122
Pthalo blue and burnt umber liquid pigment was rolled onto the gelatin plate using newsprint masks to create an area for the high point of the stone.

The plaster plate, not cleaned but no ink added, was pressed into the gelatin and removed. The print was on cartridge paper, pressed by hand.

Print p4-122

Print p4-122

Print p4-122 detail

Print p4-122 detail
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The burnt umber is very light and the combination of colours plain, but I am pleased with the texture that is visible.

This seemed a method worth pushing.
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Print p4-123
I began by rolling burnt umber liquid pigment on the gelatin plate, using a newsprint mask over the sky area. The un-inked plaster plate was pressed into the gelatin and removed. This left marks in the inked gelatin which I used as guides for further rolling and dabbing of liquid pigments on the gelatin – lamp black, burnt umber and phthalo blue.

The plaster plate was rolled with hansa yellow intaglio ink mixed with burnt umber liquid pigment and ultramarine blue in the sky. The plaster was once more pressed into the gelatin plate. The idea was that the gelatin would be completely covered in inks – from the plaster plate in the high areas of texture and already on the gelatin where the plaster did not touch the surface.

The print was taken on cartridge paper using hand pressure.

Print p4-123

Print p4-123

Print p4-123 detail

Print p4-123 detail
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Although patchy, much more colour was transferred to the print. The sky is textured without the distracting high contrast of earlier prints. There is some nice variation and strong dirction in the foreground sand. The background sand is patchy, but in a way I find of interest and potentially an attractive feature in the right context. Poor registration of the sky texture can be seen in the upper sand area, but it is not intrusive.

The stone columns and shadows are clumsy, shapeless lumps. The setting is there, but what should be the focal point is drab and uninteresting. There is also a poor transition from foreground to background sand in the lower right of the print.

I see elements of promise in an unsatisfactory print.
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Print p4-124
Considerable ink seemed to remain on the gelatin plate. I rolled with akua release agent, waited a few minutes, then printed onto cartridge paper using a baren.

Print p4-124

Print p4-124

The result is pale and there are prominent roller marks. I can’t claim it is a satisfactory print. However I find the extra level of abstraction improves the composition. There are a variety of shapes, not lumpy rocks and shadows gone wrong. There is variety in value without loss of integration over the image. Elements aren’t fighting for attention.
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Print p4-125
The cleaned gelatin plate was rolled with diarylide yellow and phthalo blue, using simple newsprint masks to define areas of land and sky. Newsprint was used to lift some of the blue. The plaster plate was rolled with intaglio hansa yellow mixed with burnt umber liquid pigment and was pressed into the gelatin.

The felt shapes used in texturing the plaster plate were inked with lamp black liquid pigment and stamped in the appropriate positions. The heat treated plastic pieces were roughly painted burnt umber and stamped on the gelatin. Finally a little more lamp black was painted at the base of the columns in an attempt to get better separation from the foreground sand.

The print was taken on cartridge paper using the baren.

Print p4-125

Print p4-125

I was pleased with the sky – a good colour, interesting patterning, contrast not too high. A registration problem around the tall stone was distracting.

The shadows have crisp edges which is one of the features in the inspiration photograph and sketches. The shadow is not too heavy, not too intrusive.

The foreground sand has variation, texture and interest. There is more white than anticipated, but the overall effect is the best achieved in all the prints.

The background sand is patchy. The areas towards the horizon could work as highlights of sunshine in the distance, but the large central blank is distracting.

With better contrast to a background the stone columns might have worked. As is they do not have the presence to hold the image together. The black shadows at the base of the stones are clumsy and awkward.

Overall the print doesn’t work, but I thought with a few adjustments it might.
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Print p4-126
In my final attempt the inking and printing method was basically the same, followed by more extensive touching up to address issues identified.

Print p4-126

Print p4-126

Print p4-126 detail

Print p4-126 detail
Click image for larger view


The attempt to improve the shadows at the base of the stones by increasing them was a poor choice. The touch-up of the smaller stone resulted in a loss of texture and cohesion.

There is an overprint of sky and land, but this has given a sense of vegetation in the distance which is true to the inspiration source and also adds an effective layer of interest to that area of the print. There is a better sense of distance and depth which is effective.

The larger stone is overall lighter than the background which in this case brings it forward. There is still not quite enough definition but I think it is much improved. I like the colour and the variation of coverage in the background sand. It is not bland but it give a resting place in a busy image.
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None of the prints is entirely satisfactory but many have points of interest. I would be curious to try the plaster plate in a proper printing press. Although I tried not to create great variation in depth in the plaster the textured areas proved very difficult to apply adequate ink and to print onto the paper. I will explore other techniques in my next block.

T1-MMT-P4-p2-e3 Collatype collage prints – block 1
Part 4: Mono and collatype printing
Project 2: Collatype printing
Exercise 3: Collatype collage prints
Collatype collage prints – block 1

T1-MMT-P4-p2-e2 Polyfilla block

The task for this exercise was to cover card with Polyfilla and while it was still moist use mark-making tools to create textures. The dried block can be used multiple times.

I used a different brand product, but the same idea of a pre-mixed plaster, with an A4 piece of mountboard as the base. A lot of time was spent with a wallpaper smoother and the smaller tool provided by the manufacturer, trying to get a smooth and even layer of filler on the card. I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the result, but felt the need to move on before the plaster set too much. Next I used a variety of tools and materials to make marks, naturally basing much of my choice on materials used in previous assignments.

collatype plate 3 in progress

collatype plate 3 in progress

Top row from the left: marks drawn with chopstick; corrugated cardboard; non-skid plastic mat; hessian; marks drawn with a couple of the plastic grouting or adhesive spreading tools.
Bottom row: marks made with the side and ends of pop sticks; pressing and lifting a small triangular headed palette knife (similar to that used in print p4-16); plastic bath mat; heat gun treated plastic; plastic netting.
Areas were divided using a range of different strings, twine and braid.

collatype plate 3 finally dry

collatype plate 3 finally dry
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Working when the plaster is at just the right stage of setting is critical, and I would need more experience to get it right. Most I did too soon. Instead of leaving a clear mark the palette knife just squelched around – I suspect a matter of surface tension. I was able to lift corners of the hessian etc and check they came away clear before removing entirely. I left the heat treated plastic longest of all, but eventually was going away for a few hours and chose to risk taking it up too soon rather than risk the plastic setting in the plaster.

Drying was slow. Temperature was mid-20s celcius, humidity mid 50s when I was working on it, the next day was almost 30 degrees, and it still took over 24 hours to dry. The board had curved and there were more high and low points than I wanted. I brushed the plate to remove stray loose bits then set to work.

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Print p4-105
The plate was rolled with akua crimson red intaglio ink. Given the uneveness of the surface it was difficult to get ink on the plate. I rotated the plate and rolled from all directions.

The print was taken on cartridge paper. I started using my hand and a baren, but peeking showed that very little colour transferred. Wooden clay shaping tools were then used to press into small, detailed areas.

Print p4-105

Print p4-105

The print is much better than I anticipated, with a good range of marks in all the sample areas. I think everything there has potential to be useful in a composition or exploration.

None of the dividing lines gave any detail.

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Print p4-106
There were a number of areas with light coverage in the previous print. I wanted to get more colour, so applied the same ink with a dabber, trying to work into the crevices of the plate.

The printing method was the same as that used in p4-105.

Print p4-106

Print p4-106

There is slightly better coverage to the edge of the plate but overall the print is a little lighter. The dabber didn’t deposit as much ink as the roller.

I wondered if the plaster was absorbing ink.
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Print p4-107
I was even more determined to get a more complete print.

Akua diarylide yellow liquid pigment was applied using a smallish bristle paint brush across the plate including all the crevices. I wiped the yellow off the high surfaces with telephone book paper, then rolled akua crimson red intaglio ink over the plate.

The print was taken on very slightly damp Arches 88 paper. Using the wooden shaping tools I worked for a long time, trying to press the paper deep into every part of the plate.

Print p4-107

Print p4-107

Print p4-107 detail

Print p4-107 detail
Click image for larger view

There is a lot more, richer colour. In some areas I was able to reach the yellow, particularly where the heat treated plastic had been used.

It still wasn’t the coverage I wanted. Possibly a printing press and slightly damper paper might have got a better result.

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Print p4-108
Next I rolled phthalo blue liquid pigment on the gelatin plate. I pressed the plaster plate onto the gelatin, working my way across the surface and then rocking back and forward slightly – most but not all of the bend in the plaster board had worked out in previous prints.

The print was taken on cartridge paper.

Print p4-108

Print p4-108

The heavy pressing and rocking of the plaster plate both blurred the impression and transferred a lot of the ink to the plaster. The print is almost without ink in the high areas of plaster.

The blurring is most pronounced in the upper right area where the notched adhesive spreader was used. A visual depth and vibration has resulted which is quite striking. I like the contrast of the evenly spaced zig-zags blending into shimmering tentacles. There is less dramatic interest in the other textured areas, although once again I see promise for the right application.

The plaster hadn’t been cleaned before this use, and traces of previous red have printed. I wondered if there would be substantial amounts of the old colour and some colour mixing, but there is not enough for major impact.
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Print p4-109
I repeated the previous method, with less forceful pressing of the plaster collage plate. The print was again taken on cartridge paper.

Print p4-109

Print p4-109

Print p4-109 detail

Print p4-109 detail
Click image for larger view

Colour is stronger overall, and there has been more transfer of the old red and yellow, particularly in the upper right section where a little green can be seen.

The detail of the print is sharp and clear and very interesting. In the gelatin prints of collage plate 1, such as print p4-97 (14-Dec-2015) the precision and detail of the print was almost too much for my taste. The boundaries were crisp, not hesitant or provisional. There was a flatness and uniformity.

In the current print there is great variation in value, there is a lot of movement and the marks seem more assertive, more individual. I look at the results and see more than just suitability if the right need comes up. The marks excite me, make me want to use them, to explore further. The roughness of the plaster and the smooth reflection of the gelatin has combined to open new possibilities.
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Print p4-110
The plaster collage plate by this time was dense with colour. I printed it onto cartridge paper without the heavy working with the wooden shapers used in the earlier prints.

Print p4-110

Print p4-110

The result at first appears very light, but there are small areas of dark tones. There are hints of the red, especially around the borders. To me there is an austere elegance, with the flecks of red giving a little energy.

I am very interested by all the variations in printing that one plate can provide.

collatype plate 3 after printing

collatype plate 3 after printing

The plate itself has become a source of interest. I wondered earlier if the plaster was absorbing ink. That’s possible, but a few days later the plate still inks my fingers when I touch it. If it dries enough I would like to seal it with a gloss varnish to enrich the colours even more, and hang it as it is. That thought certainly suggests action to take in later plates with more considered compositions.

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experimental collagraph at home

experimental collagraph at home

There was still another material for collagraph plates that I wanted to print – pvc foam board, using the techniques learnt in the workshop with Jet James earlier this year (16-July-2015). In the class we used a large printing press and I don’t have regular access to such equipment. However after the class I made a test plate with my little ezicut press. To print I used cheap acrylic paints with some gel retarder and the results were poor. Could I get better results with my akua inks?

Print p4-111
I rolled akua crimson red intaglio ink on the pvc plate. The print was taken on cartridge paper user a brayer.

Print p4-111

Print p4-111

The result is light and patchy, but the texture of the embossed area is clear. An encouraging start.
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Print p4-112
The same ink and inking method was used. I again printed on cartridge paper, but this time through the ezicut press.

Print p4-112

Print p4-112

The actual colour is more crimson and less scarlet as it appears in the photograph. There are areas of flat, strong colour. I think the pressure of the press was too heavy and detail on the plate was lost. I do like the pinpricks of white created by the insect mesh impression in the centre.

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Print p4-113
I next tried an intaglio print. The red ink was pressed across the surface and into all depressions. The surface was then wiped with phone book paper.

The print was taken on damp Arches 88 paper using the ezicut press.

Print p4-113

Print p4-113

Much more detail is visible in this plate, including shadows where texture items shifted when the plate was first created.

The print itself is not exciting, but I am pleased to have the option of creating embossed pvc plates and printing in this style. I think the material and technique is worth developing in the future.
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Print p4-114
The gelatin plate was once more rolled with phthalo blue liquid pigment. The pvc plate was pressed into the ink and removed. The print was taken on cartridge paper.

Print p4-114 detail

Print p4-114 detail

Print p4-114

Print p4-114
Click image for larger view

I don’t feel I learnt anything new from this print. The pvc was originally created as a quick experiment, a proof of concept that my little craft press was up to the task. It’s not an engaging design.

The gelatin plate picked up what detail there is, but the flaws (clumps in the original mixing of the gelatin) are becoming more pronounced.
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Print p4-115
The final print is a ghost on cartridge paper.

Print p4-115

Print p4-115

Bland and uninformative. As I’ve stated above, it’s not an interesting design. In addition I don’t feel the gelatin printing method has revealed any new or different character in the pvc plate. This is quite different to the result with the plaster plate above where the rough and smooth combined to bring something new to print p4-109.

I’ve built up a good range of materials and techniques. In the next exercise, the last for this assignment, I need to bring things together and put my new skills to use.

T1-MMT-P4-p2-e2 Polyfilla block
Part 4: Mono and collatype printing
Project 2: Collatype printing
Exercise 2: Polyfilla block

T1-MMT-P4-p2-e1 Collage block extension

Polymorph and composimold molding samples

Polymorph and composimold molding samples

I wondered if some of the materials I used for molding in Assignment 3 could be used as alternative collage print blocks – specifically composimold and polymorph.

Print p4-94
I rolled akua intaglio ink onto four of the original samples and placed them in a group on the work table. I printed them onto cartridge paper using a baren.

Print p4-94

Print p4-94


Top row: Sample p3-6, polymorph (23-Aug-2015); Sample p3-9, composimold (26-Aug-2015).
Bottom row: Sample p3-5, polymorph (23-Aug-2015); Sample p3-13, polymorph joined to composimold (1-Sep-2015).

Both materials picked up colour during rolling and released colour when printing. There was some movement of the separate samples while printing which could have caused blurring, especially of the polymorph samples which have uneven bases and tended to skitter across the table surface.

The composimold in particular printed strongly and with good detail.
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Print series p4-95
Each of the samples was rolled with colour again, then printed onto dry stonehenge paper. I printed each sample separately, to avoid the movement issues.

Print p4-95a

Print p4-95a

The first print of sample p3-9 is shown upper right. Transfer using a baren was uneven. I used both hand and baren in the second print on the sheet.

The resulting pattern is strong but not detailed. The mold had been bent during storage, causing a flaw in both prints. The darker, more complete print has striking patterning which could be used as the starting point or a layer in an abstract design.

Print p4-95b

Print p4-95b

The mix of materials in sample p3-13 has produced a range of textures and tonal value. The print is neither sharp nor detailed, but it is visually interesting.

Print p4-95c

Print p4-95c

The composimold circuit board of sample p3-5 has printed more clearly than in the previous group print but is still indistinct. The texture reminds me of an old, decaying plaster wall. I think if muted in colour it could be a useful background texture.

Print p4-95d

Print p4-95d

Sample p3-6 has some deep indentations, in particular the impression of round plastic braid. I found this print unsatisfying, with much of the texture of the original sample lost.
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Print p4-96
Dissatisfied with the previous print p4-95d, I decided to print the sample again on damp stonehenge paper. Intaglio ink was pushed into the sample then wiped off and I used wooden clay shaping tools to encourage the paper into the shape of the mold.

Print p4-96

Print p4-96

The paper was very damp, which I think led to the blurring of colour. One or more of my inking, wiping and printing methods were ineffective, with little detail captured from the heavily indented area. I think more could be done with this.
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Print p4-97
Next I combined the composimold and polymorph samples with the gelatin plate.

The plate was rolled with phthalo blue akua liquid pigment. Each of the molding samples was pressed into the plate then removed. The print was taken on cartridge paper using a baren.

Print p4-97

Print p4-97


The crisp, intricate detail is amazing.
Print p4-97 detail 1

Print p4-97 detail 1

Print p4-97 detail 2

Print p4-97 detail 2

The plate itself is slowly degrading. Little lumps of undissolved gelatin powder mark the surface with more slowly appearing. Ignoring that, the quality of the print is very good.

The composimold picked up more of the ink than the polymorph, giving a range of values. This difference could be exploited in a design.
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Print p4-98
I took a ghost print on copy paper using a baren.

Print p4-98 detail

Print p4-98 detail

Detail remains good and I remain excited about the possibilities of this combination of materials and techniques.
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Print p4-99
There was a lot of ink transferred from the gelatin plate to the samples.

I printed sample p3-13 onto very damp stonehenge paper using hand and brayer.

Print p4-99

Print p4-99


The result is indistinct and watery, like a puddle on a rainy afternoon. I rate it a failure.
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Print p4-100
Next I printed all four samples one by one on a strip of dry stonehenge paper, without adding more ink. On sample p3-6 in particular I worked with the wooden tools to capture as much detail as possible.

Print p4-100

Print p4-100


Sample p3-13 is very faint, to be expected given no more ink was added after print p4-99.

The print of sample p3-6 shows the most detail of any of my attempts. I can clearly see the original webbing, the original round braid. I can see all of these as background texturing or context-giving material.
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Print p4-101
Using the gelatin plate gave entirely different results to printing the samples directly onto paper. Wanting to explore this further I re-rolled liquid pigment on the plate, then pressed collatype plate 1 into the gelatin, working across all sections of the plate to ensure contact.

Print p4-101

Print p4-101

Print p4-101 detail

Print p4-101 detail

The results are highly detailed. The plaster chips, round braid and balsa wood are all much clearer than in any earlier prints. I wouldn’t necessarily want this level of detail for all prints, but it’s a great option.

Some of the rough materials on the collatype plate broke the surface of the gelatin plate. I haven’t yet tried but I believe it is possible to melt and re-make gelatin plates.

In the final exercise of the assignment we are asked to make more collatype prints. I definitely want to include these materials and techniques in the mix.
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My final extension work returned to the earlier monotype projects. I would like to find a stencil material that allows me to build a library of personal patterns and motifs, created in more durable stencils. I also wanted to try again the stencil colouring and registration techniques I attempted in print p4-77 (7-Dec-2015).

In previous exercises I have used copy paper, freezer paper and bristol board to make stencils. To these I added wet media acetate (a very thin acetate sheet which is treated by the manufacturer to allow liquid media to be applied without beading and cleans up in water) and yupo stencil paper (plastic coated paper).

Print p4-102
Phthalo blue akua liquid pigment was rolled onto the gelatin plate. Fish shapes cut with a scalpel from each of the five materials were rolled with orange liquid pigment and placed ink side down on the plate. Cartridge paper was placed on the plate and stencils and printed with a baren. Keeping the cartridge paper basically in place, corners were lifted and the stencils removed. The baren was used again to make the final print.

Print p4-102

Print p4-102

Stencil placement:
Top row: freezer paper; bristol board.
Bottom row: wet media acetate; yupo stencil paper; copy paper.

Some of the stencils shifted as I was rolling on the orange, leaving traces of colour on the non-inked sides. I think this is the source of the only clear orange seen on the print.

Both the copy paper and the bristol board absorbed virtually all the orange during the initial press, leaving none deposited on the print.

The other three all produced a mixing of orange and blue with different textures depending on the stencil material. The wet media acetate left the most orange in the mix. The granularity of the colour mix is much finer from the yupo stencil.
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Print p4-103
It seems to me that this technique must always leave a mix of colour. When the stencil is removed there will be some of the original colour rolled on the plate and some of the colour rolled on the stencil.

I cleaned and re-inked the gelatin plate. I then placed and removed an uninked fish stencil in four places. The idea was to lift off some of the blue. I then placed on four stencils of different materials, each inked in orange. The printing process was the same as the previous print.

Print p4-103

Print p4-103

Stencil placement:
Top row: yupo stencil paper; freezer paper.
Bottom row: wet media acetate; bristol board.

The same “blotting” stencil was used four times, and was less effective in removing ink in the later uses. The four stencils printed had all been used in the previous print. They had all been wiped clean, but both the freezer paper and the bristol board remained damp.

It was difficult to avoid accidental marking of the ink when removing the blotting stencil. Placement of the inked stencils was close but not fully registered.

The colour on all fish is much less textured – much of what is visible is caused by flaws developing in the plate. Once again the wet media acetate produced the strongest orange, but it is not a pure colour. While not what I was looking for, the colouring on all the fish is attractive.
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Print p4-104
This is the ghost of the previous print, made on copy paper.

Print p4-104

Print p4-104

The colour overall is more consistent in value. The colour effects are pretty but not striking or dramatic.

The is a wide halo effect around the bristol board fish, which I think relates to the relatively thick and absorbent material.

By the end the freezer paper stencil was tightly curled and unusable. Both the yupo and the wet media acetate remained in good shape. The acetate washed clean, the yupo was slightly stained. Time is needed for a real test of longevity. In the meantime I plan to use yupo and acetate in future stencils.

I remain unsatisfied with the technique I was trying. In a future experiment I will place the stencils ink side up.

A number of new materials with lots of potential have been identified in these experiments. I hope to take as many as possible further in coming projects.

T1-MMT-P4-p2-e1 Collage block extension
Part 4: Mono and collatype printing
Project 2: Collatype printing
Exercise 1: Create a collage block
Collage block extension

T1-MMT-P4-p2-e1 Collage blocks

In this exercise we are to create a collage block and print from it.

I used an A4 piece of mountboard for my base and PVA both to glue on materials and as protective coating for the completed block. From my research (yet to be posted) there are generally all sorts of practical considerations for the items to be collaged, most related to suitability for printing on a press – not too thick, no overhangs that could break, no sharp edges that could damage the press or blankets… Most is not relevant to printing by hand, and if my materials started breaking down during use it could be interesting in its own right – there are lots of potential themes that relate to decay and the passage of time.

The materials chosen have all been used in previous samples in this course.

collatype plate 1

collatype plate 1

Row 1: Computer circuit board (wrapping samples, including p2-75 28-Jul-2015); Corrugated cardboard and cocktail sticks (multiple uses, including p2-2 6-Jun-2015);
Row 2: Fragments of plaster (from sample p3-53, 1-Oct-2015); Plastic braid (used in molding in p3-10, 27-Aug-2015);
Row 3: Balsa wood (an offcut from joining sample p2-20, 22-Jun-2015); Cork mat – the two pieces on the right have been roughened to vary the surface (from sample p2-20, 22-Jun-2015);
Row 4: Paper clips (used in extended join sample, 2-Jul-2015); Resin (mentioned in passing in Sorting of molding and casting, 11-Oct-2015. I drilled holes in resin while experimenting with display options, as seen in the photograph combining samples p3-24, p3-35 and p3-33. The resin shavings from the drilling are used in the collage block);
Row 5: Insect screen mesh (a recurring favourite, including the curl in joining sample p2-18, 19-Jun-2015); Hessian (joining sample p2-24, 22-Jun-2015).
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Print p4-87
For the first print I used akua intaglio ultramarine blue ink. I started the application with a cut-down housepainting brush, an idea found in Bill Chambers notes (http://www.billchambers.org/images/artists%20notes/collagraph_printmaking.pdf), thinking this would help push ink into the complex and often small spaces in the plate. Coverage was very mottled so I combined this with use of a dabber made from polyester fill covered by a plain weave mid-weight cotton. The combination seemed to work well, pushing colour into crevices but avoiding buildup of ink.

The print was taken on A3 copy paper, pressed by hand and brayer. I worked from the thinner materials up to the thicker ones.

Print p4-87

Print p4-87

Overall the colour is quite light and uneven. The paper is slightly distorted, particularly in the area in row 2, around the plaster pieces. There is some ghosting and blurring around some of the thinner pieces, pressed again after the paper had shifted while printing the thicker areas. There are large white gaps around most of the materials.

I was pleased that all the materials did print at least something. The speckled line of the braid in row 2 is attractive if a little messy. It is reminiscent of a snake. The insect mesh in row 5 is the clearest print and the slight ghosting gives an extra flicker of movement.
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Print p4-88
I inked up the plate again, using the same tools but with more energy and force.

The plate was printed onto lightly damped stonehenge paper (245 gsm, 100% cotton). The paper was damped using a method seen on a demonstration video by Tyrus Clutter (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fO2G56hC5Fs). He sprays the one side of each sheet a few times, then stacks the paper and stores it in a plastic bag.

I pressed on the paper by hand and brayer, working from thick areas to thin, trying to mold the paper around the plate materials.

Print p4-88

Print p4-88

The heavier inking and heavy, damp paper has resulted in richer colour on the print. Working around the thick areas first has avoided the ghosting and movement of the previous print. The dried paper is unevenly embossed around some of the thicker materials, however nothing quite broke through the surface of the paper.

Most of the textures produced could be useful in the right context. The plastic braid and plaster pieces were more effective in the previous print.
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Print p4-89
In this print I experimented with using two colours. I was thinking of prints that combine relief and intaglio printing.

First I inked the plate again with blue akua intaglio ink. I wiped “surface” areas with a pad of synthetic organza (a substitute of the tarlatan I’ve read of printers using). I then rolled on orange akua liquid pigment, not avoiding but not particularly trying to get into any of the spaces between the different collaged elements.

I printed onto lightly damp stonehenge paper, working from thick areas to thin.

Partway through row 2 I started using wooden clay modelling tools to help in molding the paper around the collaged items. I didn’t go back to the top because of the likelihood of shifting the paper.

Print p4-89

Print p4-89

The result is full of areas of interest. On most elements the blue and orange remain distinct rather than mixing to sludge. Ink reached additional areas due to the increased embossing with the wooden tools. The dried paper is heavily embossed, with a few small breakages.

Print p4-89 detail

Print p4-89 detail

My favourite areas are the circuit board and the insect mesh. In both there is complex interaction of the two colours, providing a lot of interest and detail.
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My second collage block experimented with mark-making on the mountboard itself. I was also interested in comparing different types of sealant. Most of the artists I have researched use shellac (where sealing material is mentioned), but that involves methylated spirits which I would rather avoid.

I didn’t attempt the scratching exercise of Assignment 1 – this felt like filling in that gap.

I wasn’t able to get a good photograph of the finished board ready to print.

collatype plate 2

collatype plate 2


Markings, left to right:
Column 1: Scoring with a stanley knife.
Column 2: Attempts with a lino cutting knife. This became frustrating and the marks “stabby”. I suspect poor quality, blunt, cheap tools – but then a poor workman blames her tools.
Column 3: Channels cut with an x-acto x2000 knife. This is described by the manufacturer as “the ultimate cutting tool for precision and accuracy” and it was a joy to use, especially after column 2. I cut v-shaped channels, one side at a time. Cutting was smooth and responsive – with practice I think one could create some very sensitive, varied lines with this tool.
Column 4: I tore off the upper layers of the mountboard. Each tear was begun with a small slit with the x-acto knife, then I tried to tear varying widths and densities.
Column 5: Stabbing and scratching with the sharp nose of a small pair of scissors.
Column 6: A fork was dragged across the board, denting but not cutting the surface.

Different media were painted in rows across the board to seal it. Looking from the top down:
Row 1: Mod-podge.
Row 2: Acrylic matt medium.
Row 3: Acrylic heavy structure gel.
Row 4: Acrylic gesso.
The media were thinned with water and two layers were used.
I made two unfortunate errors in this process. First, I used a poor quality brush I had to hand, getting a streaky result and some broken fibres in the paint. Second, I got my media confused and painted heavy structure gel as layer two of the mod-podge row. A third layer – mod-podge this time – was added in an attempt to rectify the problem.
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Print p4-90
The board was rolled with ultramarine blue akua intaglio ink. It was printed onto copy paper with a baren.

Print p4-90

Print p4-90


Failure.
The result is patchy and bland. There is slightly more colour in the matt medium row. I see no interesting marks.
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Print p4-91
The plate was rolled with ink as in the previous print. It was printed using the ezicut press onto cartridge paper.

Print p4-91

Print p4-91

The colour overall is better, but now it is clear that there are uneven brushmarks from applying the sealant across the block. Once again the matt medium has given a deeper result.

The energy of the lino cutting and the scissor stabbing is now apparent and I think give the most interesting areas. The lines from the x-acto knife are smooth, distinct and flowing. I am disappointed by the area where the mountboard was torn. From my research this should give darker areas. This is one of the techniques used by Sarah Ross-Thompson (http://www.rossthompsonprints.com/techniques). Possibly my sealant was too thick, losing the texture of the torn board. I believe Ross-Thompson uses one thin layer of shellac. Possibly I did not tear deeply enough.
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Print p4-92
In this print I attempted an intaglio effect, similar to that learnt in the workshop with Jet James earlier this year (16-July-2015). I pressed akua intaglio ink into the board using a wallpaper smoother and an old plastic membership card. I then wiped ink off the surface of the plate with synthetic organza and phone-book paper.

I thought the spray-dampened paper used in earlier prints was too dry, so this time soaked the stonehenge paper in a water bath, blotted dry between towels, then stored in a plastic bag. I printed using the ezicut press.

Print p4-92

Print p4-92

The paper was very damp, and I think this has led to come spreading of the ink. The unevenness of the sealant application is still apparent. The surface ink was more effectively removed from the mod-podge areas.

The marks previously identified remain the most promising. The striation of the painted sealant has become more interesting in a shabby chic way. It could become an effective background texture, and a more varied range of brush mark could be explored.
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Print p4-93
Blue intaglio ink was applied and wiped as in the previous print. Orange akua liquid pigment was then applied using a roller.

The print was taken on very damp stonehenge paper using the ezicut press.

Print p4-93

Print p4-93


There is more spreading of the ink than in the previous print. Possibly the paper was even damper than before. Possibly the liquid pigment is more sensitive to damp in the paper.

The incised x-acto lines are the only sharp and well-defined elements, with good contrast between wiped surface and incised marks. There is little clear orange to be seen, although I suspect some of the mixing is optical rather than mixing of the inks themselves. Personally I find the complex colour more interesting than variations of blue and white. The orange gives a glowing effect. It would be interesting to use analogous rather than near-complementary colours in a print. I’m not sure if that would serve to reduce the impact of the mark-making or enhance and enrich the print overall.

T1-MMT-P4-p2-e1 Collage blocks
Part 4: Mono and collatype printing
Project 2: Collatype printing
Exercise 1: Create a collage block
T1-MMT-P4-p2-e1 Collage blocks

T1-MMT-P4-p1 Extension with gelatin plate

At the end of my last post (22-November-2015) it seemed I had a pocket of time to stop ticking boxes and start experimenting more freely. Following a suggestion from Lottie I researched gelatin plates, which appeared to offer great textural and layering opportunities working in a very free and spontaneous way. My chosen goals:

  • Make a glycerin and gelatin plate
  • Continue using the jug as my initial design source
  • Produce a sequence of prints as if in the early sketchbook stage of design development
  • Use materials, techniques and maybe samples from earlier in the course as stencils and texturing agents
  • Mix techniques from all exercises – marking making on an inked plate; drawing onto the plate; back drawing; stencils.
  • I’ve attempted to make and use a gelatin plate in the past, as part of the printing project of A Creative Approach (13-April-2012). That went very badly and was soon abandoned. I ignored that experience and researched from scratch but came back to the same technical resource, Linda Germain’s website http://www.lindagermain.com/. Detailed information on her method of making a gelatin plate is available via a simple free signup. This time the recipe was adjusted to include glycerin and I used a new (non-rusty) pan, achieving a plate with just a few small flaws.

    Germain and the Akua website both advised that the Akua intaglio inks I’ve been using were not suitable for a gelatin plate. I chose to purchase some akua liquid pigments – diarylide yellow, quinacridone red and phthalo blue. These pigments were originally developed specifically for monotype printmaking and among other benefits can be used for colour mixing with the intaglio range.

    Print p4-76

    Print p4-76 layer 1

    Print p4-76 layer 1
    Click image for larger view

    First steps using the akua liquid pigments were to familiarise myself with the new medium and new colours. I started with yellow, building up multiple layers on ink on the gelatin plate, using a couple of drops of retarder in the initial layer as recommended on the akua website.

    I used torn strips of newsprint as a stencil to create lines, then printed onto cartridge paper using a brayer. I got good, smooth colour. The edges are crisp between the newsprint-masked and unmasked areas, possibly because there is some give in the plate.

    Print p4-76 layer 2

    Print p4-76 layer 2
    Click image for larger view

    For the second layer I used quinacridone red, again adding retarder on layer 1. Despite waiting some minutes before adding the second layer of pigment the roller picked up the first layer as I was working. The weather was quite mild that day, perhaps low 20s celcius, and I’ve read that the gelatin plate can slow drying of paints. I have not used retarder in later layers.

    Torn newsprint was used as a mask, with some care taken to ensure areas of pure yellow, pure red, unprinted white, and mixed yellow and red.

    I like this combination of colours, although for a final stripe design I would want to break up that rather heavy red and orange area towards the left. Just a thin squiggle of white would bring a spark of life.

    Print p4-76 layer 3

    Print p4-76 layer 3
    Click image for larger view

    The third layer was printed using phthalo blue with newsprint strips as stencils. An interesting mix of colours resulted. The blue is very strong. Given the red used is more a soft purple-pink, it mixed to a purple blue. A very dark green resulted from the yellow and blue mix. The three colours come together in an inky blue purple.

    If trimmed the print is bright, interesting, lively irregular stripes. I think it would be successful as a printed textile length and can imagine a child’s summer dress made from it.

    However I wanted to relate back to my fish jug theme and to push further. The concept was to use fish stencils, thinking of colourful tropical stripes, and deepen the colour around to highlight them. I then intended to use back-drawing to create elegant flowing lines, the incomplete outline of the jug, with the fish swimming onto and off it. I would have the striped fish, a deeper medium value background, and the darker lines of the jug.

    I started with the gelatin plate rolled in red and fish stencils placed.

    Print p4-76 layer 4

    Print p4-76 layer 4


    My complex plan hadn’t taken into account that the new layer of the soft quinacridone red would only marginally deepen the red areas already printed and would not show up at all on the darker, richer colours. There is some patterning, but basically it just dulled the lively stripes already achieved. In addition the whole thing was getting too busy, with too many ideas. The original stripes were too strong to work with such clumsy additions. I didn’t continue to the jug stage of the plan.
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    Print p4-77

    Print p4-77 layer 1

    Print p4-77 layer 1
    Click image for larger view

    Layer 1 is the ghost of layer 1 of print p4-78. Before removing the paper strips I used some waste newsprint to pick up some of the colour remaining on the plate, hoping in the ghost to get more differentiation between masked and unmasked areas (rather than a thin outline of the border and similar colouring on both sides). However on the ghost print I got almost no colour from the areas originally masked. Virtually all colour had transferred to the masking strips themselves.

    Print p4-77 layer 2

    Print p4-77 layer 2
    Click image for larger view

    Layer 2 is the ghost of layer 2 of print p4-78. The whole page looks looks like shades of orange, with no white remaining.

    At this point it’s not particularly interesting.

    Print p4-77 layer 3

    Print p4-77 layer 3
    Click image for larger view

    Layer 3 continued the pattern, the ghost of layer 3 of print p4-78.

    The whole page is shades of blue, but quite interesting blues with a kind of dirty glow from the complementary orange beneath. This seemed a good background to accept the addition of my earlier plan for fish with jug outline.

    I decided to experiment with a stencil technique seen in a video on Linda Germain’s website. Colour is rolled on the plate. A different colour is rolled onto the stencil, which is then placed ink-side down on the plate. The print paper is placed on and pressed, getting the background plate colour and voids in the stencil areas. Next the print paper is lifted just enough to allow removal of the stencils without shifting the overall position of the paper, and pressed again. The final print should have excellent registration, with different colours in background and stencil areas.

    In previous samples the newsprint stencils picked up almost all the colour beneath and copy paper stencils absorbed the major part of the colour. Wanting to leave as much colour as possible I decided to make stencils from freezer paper and use the plasticky, presumably non-absorbent side down. A secondary purpose was to find a thin but longer-lasting stencil material.

    I rolled quinacridone red on the gelatin plate and pyrrole orange onto freezer paper stencils, cut to fish shapes based on the inspiration jug. Little rings of machine-embroidered lace placed as additional stencils, to suggest air bubbles.

    Print p4-77 layer 4

    Print p4-77 layer 4

    The registration of the fish is very good using this method. There is a fine, even boundary of blue around each shape due to the fairly thin freezer paper used.

    The orange of the fish is textured, presumably due to the orange liquid pigment smooshing around on the non-absorbent plastic coated stencil during the initial press. The texture created could be interpreted as watery, so in keeping with an underwater fish theme. The stitched rings were quite thick and the open centres didn’t print. They have given a clear blue bubble look which links well to the textured blue areas in the fish. The soft red used has mixed to give a blue to violet background, marred by roller lines in the colour.

    I find the result intriguing. It doesn’t work as a standalone image. There is no focus and insufficient variation in value. However there is a lot of interest, I would say even beauty, at the detail level. If I was actually developing a design, as in my initial premise to this extension work, this print would be taken through the Sorting stage as having potential for further development.

    I did not act on the jug outline idea. Possibly it would provide the focus and variation in value that the image lacks, but I just can’t see it. If I wanted to go ahead with that I would want to add a jug stencil when the fish background was added, to preserve the original background and differentiate jug and non-jug areas.

    The freezer paper stencil curled tightly after use. Pressed flat during drying it could be used again in another session, but it’s not really suitable for multiple uses in the same session.
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    Print p4-78

    Print p4-78 layer 1

    Print p4-78 layer 1
    Click image for larger view

    I wanted to make a comparison of the two printing plates, so rolled out the same ink on my standard etching plastic plate and again used torn newsprint strips for masking. I unintentionally put on a lot of ink the first layer, so did not add more. I took the print on cartridge paper, pressing hard with a baren. Very little ink came onto the paper and the colour is very light. Given this the boundary between masked and unmasked areas is soft and undefined.

    Print p4-78 layer 2 detail

    Print p4-78 layer 2 detail

    Print p4-78 layer 2

    Print p4-78 layer 2
    Click image for larger view

    A couple of later layers were added, ghosts of layer 4 of print p4-77. The result is overall a pale, bland mottling with little definition.

    The rings look like some kind of pox, with a red centre and a red border. However there is something about the combination in the detail shown above, where I think a stencil had been reused with some colour still on it, next to a stencil leaving a void. For me there is a tentative communication of here and not-here, which could be interesting in the right context.

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    Print p4-79

    Print p4-79

    Print p4-79

    I used a small bristle paintbrush and the akua liquid pigment and drew a fish onto etching plastic. A baren was used lightly to take the print onto cartridge paper. The printed fish is quite light, but I like the quality of marks created and I found it easy to move the brush over the plate.

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    Print p4-80

    Print p4-80 layer 1

    Print p4-80 layer 1
    Click image for larger view

    This print was an experiment using akua intaglio inks on the gelatin plate. This was advised against by both my sources, but I wanted to see the results myself. I used a couple of drops of blender to loosen the ink, then tried to roll it on. It just wouldn’t stick cleanly. It picked up, it textured, it just didn’t work at all.

    Newsprint torn strips were used as a mask, and cartridge paper to take the print. I was intending to take a back-drawing. Wherever the paper touched the plate it picked up the colour immediately, with no pressure applied at all.

    Print p4-80 layer 2

    Print p4-80 layer 2


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    A brief illness forced a break in my explorations at this point. More than a week later I returned with energy for just a short final session for this project.

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    Print p4-81

    Print p4-81 layer 1

    Print p4-81 layer 1
    Click image for larger view

    In print p4-80 I experienced anticipated problems using the akua intaglio ink on the gelatin plate. I wanted to push this further as it would allow greater flexibility in colour mixing. I have a set of red, yellow and blue in both products, but different reds, different blues, and slightly different yellows. On this layer I used the intaglio yellow again, but applied it to the gelatin plate using a silk screen and squeegee. The screen lifted off cleanly and I had a fairly even but rather thick coverage of ink. With a little practice and refinement I think this could be an effective alternative to rolling when using problem inks. As a further experiment in colour distribution I used a home-made dabber of polyester fill covered by felt. This added some potentially interesting localised texture to the yellow.

    On the left of the photograph is the plate, complete with garden weeds as stencils. The print on the right is on cartridge paper. The patterning has a lovely bold, organic character, linear but rich, which pleases me.

    Print p4-81 layer 2

    Print p4-81 layer 2
    Click image for larger view

    On the second layer more plant material and some fish stencils. This time the stencils were cut from bristol board, a thick, smooth 180 gsm card. The phthalo blue was rolled quite thinly, as I didn’t want it to overwhelm in the colour mixing as in print p4-76.

    There is a texturing where the blue overlays the yellow – potentially due to the different ink types (akua intaglio under liquid pigment), or to the thick yellow not being entirely dry.

    The patterning is very busy, and all the colours jostle for attention. My initial plan for this print was a variation of the same plan as print p4-76, and it seemed that once again I was trying to do too much in a single print.

    I decided to go ahead with the next intended layer of red on the fish areas. The print as it stood was unsuccessful and if the red didn’t help it would just be a different kind of fail. I used the negative stencil of the fish used in layer 1.

    Print p4-81

    Print p4-81

    I see this as a save. The noise of layer 2 has been sent to the background with the fish the clear focus of the image. The stencil was just a little misplaced, giving a purple trailing edge to the fish moving through the water – a happy accident. The border around the fish is quite wide, presumably related to the thickness of the stencils. For the two larger fish this results in a leading edge of yellow, fortunately not complicated by any weeds, which further supports the visual dominance of the fish and their sense of movement. The weed areas are a background relatively low value blue, or a mix of yellow and white which clearly sit behind the pink fish and therefore become a middle ground, although normally you would expect the yellow to push forward. All this combines to create a sense of depth in a graphic design. I should note that on my screen the photograph is misleading, with the blue and yellow much brighter than in life.

    The red on the fish is textured, mottled over the yellow as noted in the blue layer, and towards the edges there are what might be suction marks from picking the paper off the plate and covering stencil. I decided I liked the print as it was. The planned backdrawing of marks on the fish was unnecessary given the texture and pattern already achieved, and it would work against the graphic quality of the image. With so much happening adding any jug element was out of the question.

    I regard this as one of my more successful prints. It also has a number of features, for example the leading and trailing yellow and purple and the layering and depth of those complex weeds, which could be of great interest if actually working in design development.
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    Print p4-82

    Print p4-82 layer 1

    Print p4-82 layer 1
    Click image for larger view

    This print is on newsprint, the first ghost from print p4-81. It was taken with the stencils still in place, to take up some of the excess ink still on the plate. There is more white on the page and the yellow is a little less intense, a little less bold.

    Print p4-82 layer 2

    Print p4-82 layer 2
    Click image for larger view

    The second layer was the first ghost of layer 2 on print p4-81. Once again the stencils were left in place. At this stage it appears a much softer version of the previous print.

    Unfortunately I didn’t take a photograph of the third layer, but once again it was the first ghost of layer 3 of print p4-81. There wasn’t much of the soft red colour left and the outcome was bland and unsatisfying.

    I decided it was time to action the idea of back-drawing to add detail on the fish. I rolled violet intaglio ink onto a glass plate and laid down the print paper. I used the negative fish stencil to give approximate shape and placement references.

    First I used a stencil brush along the lower edge of the body to add some shading and hopefully some volume to the basic fish shape. I used the wrong end of a small brush to add lines for fins, tail and on the body plus an indication of an eye. A peek showed the fish forms were still indistinct, so I tried to place a little more shading around the upper bodies. In the process an unfortunate splodge was added to the lower right corner.

    Print p4-82

    Print p4-82

    I regard the result as a messy failure with many points of interest and potential. I think the result would have been much better if I had pushed the back-drawing and shading further to give the fish better definition and to allow them to act as focal points unifying the image. This would have needed some greater accuracy in my working.

    The back-drawing that was done is a good mixture of soft shading and distinct lines which I think could contribute positively if I got the balance right. Again the photograph is more highly coloured than the original which is much softer and more integrated. There are some lines in the tail of the largest fish which I like and there is a fizz towards the right midway down where the blue didn’t cover the yellow, a great effect for a watery scene. There is also some background patterning that could be isolated and used in design development.
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    Print p4-83

    Print p4-83 layer 1

    Print p4-83 layer 1
    Click image for larger view

    The first layer of this print is the second ghost print from layer 1 of p4-81, and here for the first time the stencil weeds have been removed. Using the newsprint p4-82 first means the areas previously exposed are now quite light and an effective foil to the stronger colour of the positive weed print. At this point there seemed a lot of light, life and energy in the image.

    I decided not to add a blue layer to this print. I wanted to move away from the complexity of the previous two images. Instead, the second layer was the second ghost of layer 3 of print p4-81, the first use with the stencil removed. Unfortunately I don’t have a photograph, but the result was a thin, crisp red outline of the fish shapes, not much change to the interior of the fish, and a rosy glow to the background area. Altogether it was insipid.

    I thought I would add some line, texture and definition to the fish by using the ghost of the purple back-drawing layer 4 of print p4-83.

    Print p4-83

    Print p4-83

    O dear! Perhaps this would have worked if I had used the negative stencil. You can with some effort see light lines on the fish, especially the larger one at the bottom, although badly registered. However all is lost in a unifying haze of violet.

    A definite failure.
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    Print p4-84

    Print p4-84 layer 1

    Print p4-84 layer 1
    Click image for larger view

    More ghosting! The first layer of this print is the third ghost of layer 1 of print p4-81. It was the second taken after removal of the stencil weeds. The original line of the weed is now light with boundaries of yellow. There is still a reasonable amount of colour, a lot of movement, and it seemed a reasonable start for a print.
    Print p4-84 layer 2

    Print p4-84 layer 2
    Click image for larger view

    Layer 2 is the third ghost of layer 2 of print p4-81, the second after the fish stencils were removed. There is a fine, crisp blue outline to the fish and slightly textured lighter blue on the body. The blue weed has some lovely definition and detail, and there is a lot of variation in depth of colour on different stems. The yellow is not well balanced and is harsh against the soft blues.

    Layer 3 on this print is red, the third ghost of layer 3 of print p4-81.

    Print p4-84

    Print p4-84

    There was little red left on the plate for the final layer. In places a fine red outline of the fish can be discerned, but it is faint. In the background the red can hardly be seen, but it acts to knock back the white of the paper and integrate the image. Overall the end result is mediocre, not a success, not a total disaster, not providing any particular insights to take forward.
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    Print p4-85
    The description of multiple layers and so many ghosts may be getting repetitive and confusing, but this print is quite simple. One layer, the second ghost print of print p4-81, the first ghost with the stencil weeds removed.

    Print p4-85

    Print p4-85


    Print p4-85 detail

    Print p4-85 detail

    Simple and elegant in tones of blue and white. The outlines of the fish are quite complex, an internal white, sometimes a fine line, sometimes a wider area of very pale blue, and then an uneven shadow of darker blue all around.

    The weed is wonderful. I’ve included a detail of one of the very crisp, darker strands but there are also a couple of pale spikes that sit behind all. These and some bubbly texture give a level of variation to virtually the entire image. With this print I feel vindicated in my decision to experiment with the gelatin plate. The slight give in the plate allows fairly thick materials to be used to create texture with a great level of detail.
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    Print p4-86
    The final print of the session was actually made quite early, while I waited for the initials layers of yellow to dry on the other prints. This is an exploration of capturing texture and harks back to exercise 1 of this project, creating marks in a plate rolled with ink. All these marks were made by materials used in earlier assignments.

    Print p4-86

    Print p4-86

    In the image as seen:
    Top row: Left – fibreglass insect screen mesh. Right – pieces broken from cork tablemat.
    Middle row: Left – hessian. Right – thin plastic tablecloth, heat treated.
    Bottom row: Left – plastic braid. Right – corrugated cardboard.

    There are flaws in the print – I was working in a quick, off-hand way, filling in time. The cork is underwhelming, of interest mostly for the irregular edges. All the others could be very effective in the right context. These could be useful in future monotypes, but there is also potential for collatype printing, the subject of the next exercise.
    break

    At this point I will move on to the next project. In some ways it is disappointing. After a rocky start with monotypes I am feeling much more positive and confident about the recent results. I’ve made good progress on the goals listed at the beginning of this post. I’m beginning to experiment more, make my own tools, ask and answer questions, work fluidly in a series, respond spontaneously. The proportion of successes or at least partial successes to failures is improving, and while I understand that this course invites risk-taking and an acceptance of failure there needs to be a balance. Perhaps I should have moved more quickly through the structured exercises and spent more time combining techniques. This may be possible near the end of the assignment, but for now I need to keep moving or risk even my extended deadline.
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    Research
    My enforced rest period allowed some time for extra research on artists using gelatin plates.

    Ruth Alice Kosnick. One video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H0jw3N7a0Go) shows work based on a large photograph of hands working at a loom, which is placed underneath the gelatin plate and used as a guide for placement of stencils and colour. Yarn and stencils of hands taken from the original photograph are used in different layers. Kosnick has a very free approach with colour mixing and placement, with the occasional mark-making into the inked plate. The results are lively and complex.

    In another video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8uH6rkvsdko) a simple fish stencil is the focus of a series. The size of the plate has been carefully matched to the stencil size. Texturing materials create marks suggestive of nets and scales. Once again colour use and layering is of great interest, and the rough and ready approach to registration is appealing to me. In this case printing is just one step in the process. Kosnick uses drawing and painting to further develop the images, then collages them together to create the final artwork.

    Gerda Lipski. In https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4n7baCAFpe0 Lipski uses acrylic paints and a very simple stencil – a “stone”. Using colour mixing on the plate, limited mark making into the paint, layering and a central irregular circle stencil a wide variety of attractive with lots of surface interest is generated.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ai1Vk0p7rZY uses brighter, clearer colours, basically a set of primaries. I saw this video after my initial work session (see above), and the colours appear very similar.

    Andy Skinner. This artist also uses complex mixtures of colour and many layers. As can be seen in the video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m7mAJkcY45M Skinner makes extensive use of stencils. Skinner’s website http://www.andyskinnercrafts.com/ has links to tutorials on a wide variety of products and techniques useful in mixed media.

    T1-MMT-P4-p1 Extension with gelatin plate
    Part 4: Mono and collatype printing
    Project 1: Monoprinting
    Extension with gelatin plate

    T1-MMT-P4-p1-e4 Working with stencils (mostly)

    Sample p2-61

    Sample p2-61
    Click image for larger view

    Sketch 2015121

    Sketch 2015121
    Click image for larger view

    This exercise calls for working with stencils, requiring a simplified shape with no surface detail. I chose the jug previously involved in a series of wrapping experiments (22-July-2015). I traced the outline of a photograph using gimp, adjusting the handle shape to avoid an internal space.

    I printed the result a number of times on copy paper, and cut out the jug shape – initially using a scalpel, then one version carefully torn.

    All prints in this series were on white A4 copy paper.

    Print p4-68

    Print p4-68 layer 1

    Print p4-68 layer 1
    Click image for larger view

    First I printed in a red mix of akua intaglio inks. The copy paper with a void jug shape was placed over the plate, then a print taken. The print is fine in that the shape is recognisable and there were no issues with tearing on the finer sections of the design. It is very static, and there is a problem in placement that is not apparent in the cropped process image.

    To create a second layer I inked the cleaned plate in blue, and used the cut-out jug shape as a mask over the red already printed. Getting the mask and the paper in the right position was tricky!

    Print p4-68

    Print p4-68

    The full image shows the poor placement of the jug in my original stencil preparation, much too high on the page.

    I deliberately rolled a solid base of blue for the jug to “sit” on, thinking back to issues with my still-life attempt in print p4-44 (11-November-2015), with light and broken colour in the top two thirds of the page. I think the idea is sound, but the high jug just floats in this attempt.

    When printing I pressed through the paper by hand, trying to ensure good transfer of colour around the edges of the stencil. The gap is uneven, suggesting inaccurate placement of the stencil, but there is no actual overlap. Perhaps with crisp, dry paper there isn’t the stretch needed to bend into the corner formed by the thin paper stencil.

    Overall this is not satisfactory as a print, but I find some good technical pointers.

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    Print p4-69

    Print p4-69 layer 1

    Print p4-69 layer 1
    Click image for larger view

    This is the ghost of the previous print. The dark outline is the inverse of that little gap around the edge of the stencil. There is not much difference in the colour in the jug shape or the surrounds. Red in the jug area already printed on print p4-68. Red in the surrounds printed onto the paper stencil. Given I used similar pressure over the page as a whole in the initial print, the remainder left for the ghost is similar.

    This observation suggests two possibilities – experimenting with the thickness of the stencil material and the resulting gap, distortions etc; and varying pressure in the initial print. There is no need for colour on the stencil, so perhaps I can try to leave more, at least in parts, available to the ghost.

    Print p4-69 detail

    Print p4-69 detail

    Print p4-69

    Print p4-69
    Click image for larger view

    It’s not surprising given the reasoning above that the blue ghost is very similar to the red – a strong outline of the stencil shape and similar light colour from both the printed and the masked areas. Registration was slightly off, giving the doubled edge effect. If it was perfect there would be a single purple line. I find the offset more interesting.

    There is the same high placement issue with the jug on the page.

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    Print p4-70

    Print p4-70 layer 1

    Print p4-70 layer 1
    Click image for larger view

    Wanting to avoid the placement problem I started this print with the background first. Once again the ink was varied on the plate. In the top two thirds the ink was rolled more thinly and unevenly to create broken colour. Ink was heavier across the bottom third.

    When printing I used back drawing to create some broad, flowing wave lines in the bottom third. This was based on my experience with the plastic grouting tools in print p4-66 (21-November-2015). Their flexible plastic was easy to move smoothly across the paper. I dug out a small plastic tool, I think originally sold to help transfer ointments between small pots. Re-purposed, it flexed rather than jerked as the line changed direction. I created three dark lines, then peeked and found them too crisp and stark, so used the stencil brush to get some lighter shading between the lines.

    For the second layer, adding colour to the jug, I placed the stencil underneath the plastic printing plate and rolled colour only where needed. Full disclosure – on the first attempt I had the stencil the wrong way around, so had to clean off and re-ink.

    To generate more interest I wanted two colours in the jug, and to keep the handle a single colour. Placing the stencil with the jug cut-out on the inked areas of the plate was straight-forward. Putting the print paper down on the plate was once again awkward, but reasonably accurate.

    Print p4-70

    Print p4-70

    I find more to like than to dislike in the final print.

    I was successful in correcting the jug placement, although the masks used still had the original problem.
    My new tool gave the broad wavy line I’ve been looking for.
    Pressing around the stencil by hand in the blue layer gave a darker edge which suggests a shadow and gives just a little depth.
    The blending of colours on the jug work, and I particularly like the transition which is quite smooth and not muddy.

    Print p4-70 detail

    Print p4-70 detail

    It’s not a print I would frame and hang, but for once I feel encouraged by my progress.

    break
    Print p4-71

    Print p4-71 layer 1

    Print p4-71 layer 1
    Click image for larger view

    This is the ghost of the previous print. The first layer shows the impact of the back drawing combined with the masking. I think in drawing the wavy lines I must have used uneven pressure on the jug stencil area. This has left some uneven ink near the base of the jug, which I rather like as suggesting thicker glass at the base.
    Print p4-71

    Print p4-71

    Print p4-71 detail

    Print p4-71 detail
    Click image for larger view

    As a result of varying placement of the masks, plus multi-coloured, uneven and incomplete inking of the plate on the second layer, there is a lot of variation in the ghost. Registration could be seen as technically poor, but as mentioned above I like this effect in the ghost and see little value in perfect registration in these matched mask ghosts.

    The result is a much more dynamic and interesting print. There is variation in line, colour and value. The jug outline is still central and the blue outline static, but the lighter line in red and green creates movement. The central area of focus is reinforced by the additional colouring. When transferring the jug colours in the previous print pressure was focused on the jug area. In the ghost the jug is lighter than its surrounds, allowing it to stand in front of a slightly darker background.

    break
    Print p4-72
    Pleased with the success of my new plastic tool, I wanted to be able to vary the width of my broad lines. I cut a strip from an old plastic membership card, and slightly rounded the corners to avoid a catch point.
    Following up the blended colour of the previous prints, I rolled the plate with a combination of the blue, red and green that were on the work area.
    I am in the process of researching Paul Klee’s traced prints, and this quick, spontaneous back drawn print shows a slight influence of that.

    Print p4-72

    Print p4-72

    Print p4-72 detail

    Print p4-72 detail
    Click image for larger view

    The lines created with my new tool, the whole genesis of this print, can be seen in the lower right corner. The jagged lines on the left used a fine-toothed grouting tool. Birds and bird-house were drawn with a metal skewer – I feel it gave a firmer, finer line than the wooden tools I have tried previously. The clouds were finger-pressed.

    As an image it doesn’t quite work. I think you can see I started by experimenting with tools then felt I had to fill some gaps with something. So the composition is clumsy and two of my baby birds seem to be tumbling to the ground.

    Still, I like the variation in colour. It gives a simple scene some vitality. I like the variation in lines and texture. The process was free and fun and I think the energy shows.

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    Print p4-73
    This is the ghost of the previous print.

    Print p4-73

    Print p4-73

    Print p4-73 detail

    Print p4-73 detail
    Click image for larger view

    The colours look fine. The overall composition has similar strengths and weaknesses. The white lines just don’t work for me.

    I wonder if this is a candidate for re-working with pen. I could add some extra details, perhaps vary the line or colours. I’m not currently enthused but may come back to it.

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    Print p4-74
    The earlier jug masks were cut with a scalpel with a clean, smooth line. Thinking back to the tearing exercises of assignment 1 (see for example 26-April-2015), I wondered what impact torn edges would have in a stencil. In this print I used a red background, again with uneven colour. The jug was blue and green still on the work area, mixed on the plate.

    Print p4-74

    Print p4-74

    The registration is quite good. I’d started to take advantage of the see-through print plate, placing it onto the paper and then turning the bundle over to press. The colour mixing is dull and the uneven line isn’t effective to suggest the smooth glass jug. The jug and background colours are too close in value, making the result very flat.

    However I feel the line itself has a lot of interest and character – it’s just not suitable for this application. I am mindful of the exhibition of Julie Paterson’s work seen earlier this year (13-September-2015). Paterson frequently uses torn or cut paper stencils with screen printing as part of her design process. I think it could be very productive to use some of my assignment one samples as stencils in print-making.

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    Print p4-75

    Print p4-75

    Print p4-75


    The ghost of the previous print. With all its imperfections, it excites me.
    Print p4-75 detail

    Print p4-75 detail

    Print p4-75 wider view

    Print p4-75 wider view
    Click image for larger view

    Here the uneven line, wobbly and provisional, comes into its own. It sits hesitantly on the page, blurred, inconsistent. The two layers are far from aligned, creating a visual vibration. They fill the space well. I struggle to focus, to see what is there, and pick up details that don’t fit together.

    I’ve included a thumbnail of the whole page – full disclosure of my messy work. The red lines at the bottom are annoying, but I like the breakout of blue on the right margin. This is a force that is going somewhere.

    I can quite understand people seeing this as a messy nothing, a failure. But it speaks to my interest in boundaries, in open possibilities and uncertainty. It isn’t flat. It can’t be taken in at a glance. It has personality.

    break
    Having done the basic monotype exercises I now have the opportunity to mix them up and take my printing explorations a bit further.

  • The course notes suggest looking at Paul Klee, using blocks of colour and quirky back drawing (a touch of that above).
  • I could use some of the assignment 1 samples as stencils, working in a more fluid and spontaneous way.
  • I’ve read up on gell printing plates, and also a home-made version using jelly and glycerin. It seems to support a more textured, informal, layered approach and could be an interesting contrast to the hard plate and surfaces I’ve been using.
  • I’d like to take my jug motif further. There are some interesting surface designs on the original, which could be used as a basis for back drawing and stencil combinations.
  • These aren’t all mutually exclusive. I’ve made working through the exercises, ticking the boxes, a laborious process. I’m hoping to find a mix which makes monotype printing work for me.

    T1-MMT-P4-p1-e4 Working with stencils (mostly)
    Part 4: Mono and collatype printing
    Project 1: Monoprinting
    Exercise 4: Working with stencils
    Working with stencils (mostly)

    T1-MMT-P4-p1-e3 Back drawing continued

    Print p4-62

    Sample p2-73

    Sample p2-73
    Click image for larger view

    The plan:

  • Continue using printmaking as a way of exploring other work – in this case wrapping sample p2-73 (28-July-2015)
  • Multiple layers with improved registration
  • Use varied mark-making to express the different materials in the original sample
  • Use lighter paper – in this case 80 gsm copy paper (thanks to Karen for that suggestion)
  • Print p4-62 layer 1

    Print p4-62 layer 1
    Click image for larger view

    Layer 1 shows the ribbon. I mixed just a little violet into the yellow rolled onto the plate. Colour was transferred pressing with my finger for a broad and soft line. Wanting a little more definition I also used a tapered colour shaper.

    Print p4-62 layer 2

    Print p4-62 layer 2
    Click image for larger view

    Layer 2 represents the wide, flat cable wound around in the sample. Attempting with a variety of wooden shaping tools, I couldn’t get the broad, smoothly flowing line I intended. My experiments with different tools held at different angles are jagged and jarring.

    Print p4-62 layer 2 a

    Print p4-62 layer 2 a
    Click image for larger view

    I took the ghost print (see next print), then used the plate one more time. The idea was to bring the image together, reducing that jumble-of-lines effect.

    As well as lightly rolling all over with a brayer, I used my finger to give some shading to the yellow of layer 1. While I think the print as a whole was improved, the multiple peeks and replacing of paper and plate has led to registration issues.

    The final layer was violet, in fine, sharp, jagged lines to represent the black synthetic horsehair in the sample. It still looked very stark, so I added some extra shading along the original ribbon lines by soft pressing with my finger.

    Print p4-62 detail

    Print p4-62 detail

    Print p4-62

    Print p4-62
    Click image for larger view

    My various interventions improved but did not save the print. That red line is too messy, too plonked ungracefully in the middle. Looking back at print p4-61 (14-November-2015) I should have expected this.

    Looking at positives, I like the way the ink sits on the copy paper. The crisp white brings light to the colours and the smooth surface in some way allows the print itself to have more depth. At the detail level the shading with finger-pressed red is attractive without being intrusive.

    Reflecting now, I wonder if I’d get a better result using more of a green in layer 1, providing a balance to the red. I could also reduce the amount of red, making it a point of interest in just one corner of the image. I’ll park that idea for now, as it might be more appropriate later when I combine monotype techniques.
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    Print p4-63

    Print p4-63 layer 1

    Print p4-63 layer 1
    Click image for larger view

    Print p4-63 layer 2

    Print p4-63 layer 2
    Click image for larger view

    Print p4-63 layer 3

    Print p4-63 layer 3
    Click image for larger view

    This print is the layers of ghost prints from p4-62, printed onto 100 gsm white cartridge paper. On layer 1 I used a brayer first, then followed with the baren to get some extra colour. I was using 100% akua intaglio ink, no extender and no blender added, to get colour as rich as possible and to reduce accidental transfer during back drawing.

    The second layer, in red, looks much less clumsy in the ghost print. Partly the colour isn’t as strong and solid, but I think also the layering with larger areas of yellow underneath is more interesting.

    However with the addition of the third layer I was less satisfied. Perhaps the print could provide an interesting background to something, but the overall effect was indistinct and dull. I attempted to add at least a little interest by doing some more backdrawing and varied pressure using palm and fingers without adding any extra ink to the plate.

    Print p4-63

    Print p4-63

    Many of my prints seem to end as overall vague patterning – dull. The process did lead me to some close observation of the original joining sample, so it is effective in that sense.
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    Print p4-64
    Print p4-23

    Print p4-23
    Click image for larger view

    I refined my plan for the next two prints:

  • Even lighter paper – a japanese rice paper.
  • Using a previous print as my source material. This is print p4-23 (25-October-2015). In my original post I noted that the detail in this print was easy to overlook, dominated by the major line. Could I see something new by creating a print interpretation of the print?
  • Varied mark-making would remain key
  • Print p4-64 layer 1

    Print p4-64 layer 1
    Click image for larger view

    There was still just a little violet left on the plate from the previous print. I decided to use this to create the first layer. This didn’t provide a lot of colour, but gave some texture and variation to the print area.

    The second layer was yellow. In previous prints virtually all my mark-making was blind. The tools I used might slightly emboss the back of the paper but none left a drawn mark so placement or repeats of line were very approximate. This time I drew a rough line first on scrap paper, then traced over that while back drawing. The initial line was traced with the wrong end of a paint brush, sometimes backtracking and repeating when I accidentally left the line.

    Print p4-64 layer 2

    Print p4-64 layer 2
    Click image for larger view

    Peeking, I like the stranded effect so I repeated the tracing multiple times to build up a network of marks. The photos I take while working are on my tablet and in awkward lighting so not great quality, but below you may get a sense of what was interesting me.
    Print p4-64 layer 2 detail

    Print p4-64 layer 2 detail


    The next layer was a red-violet mix. I wanted to surround the network of yellow with more solid lines of colour.

    I tried a number of wooden shaping tools but couldn’t get the width and solidity I wanted. There are areas of back and forward scribble, of little overlapping loops, of finger nails, skewers, chopsticks… The outlines looked awful, so in a flurry I started scribbling down the centres and lost my lovely yellow network.

    Print p4-64 detail

    Print p4-64 detail

    Print p4-64

    Print p4-64
    Click image for larger view

    The lines were looking very messy and stark. I used a stencil brush, tapping over and near the lines. I really like the light mottling effect this created, and it’s a technique I am likely to use again.

    Working on the light paper was helpful, as after a time I could see the overall lines through the paper. However the paper really needs a backing to bring more light and give a clear view of the marks.

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    Print p4-65

    Print p4-65 detail

    Print p4-65 detail

    Print p4-65

    Print p4-65
    Click image for larger view

    This is the ghost of the previous print, and is also on rice paper. While still not a great result I prefer this print.

    The darker background gives a better sense of presence on the light paper. The complexity of the network of lines is clearer and unified, being a mix of yellow (the gaps in the lines of the previous print) and white.

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    Print p4-66
    Wanting to experiment with printing on a more distinct background, I chose a page from an old harmonica instruction manual.

    Print p4-66 layer 1

    Print p4-66 layer 1
    Click image for larger view

    Responding to the strong repeated lines, I used plastic grouting tools of varying sizes to create my marks – one of the tools can be seen in the bottom corner of the photograph.

    I’ve read a number of times that it’s best to start with a light colour, and I realise on reflection that I have accepted this as a given rather than experimenting. However in this case I mixed red into the yellow which makes it visually stronger, although still quite transparent. I think the old, dense, soft and absorbent paper could be a factor, plus the stiff but flexible plastic was easy to drag across the page with a quite heavy pressure. Perhaps I can make a tool that would assist with broad flowing lines, like the ones I wanted in print p4-62 layer 2.

    Print p4-66 layer 2

    Print p4-66 layer 2
    Click image for larger view

    In the second layer I used narrower notches and the red which has caused issues by dominating some earlier prints. It was rolled slightly thinner on the plate plus the overall pattern of lines doesn’t pull the eye in the same way. In addition the strong music print on the original page remains the main interest.

    The registration on this layer is particularly poor. Although nominated as a focus for the work session my results have not improved. When drawing up a template on gridded paper I confirmed that my original plastic plate was not a true rectangle – not all corners were square or sides straight. I tend to lose focus and get a bit messy as a work session progresses, and finally printing is unforgiving – a careless moment and the result is changed.

    Print p4-66 layer 3

    Print p4-66 layer 3
    Click image for larger view

    The third layer, in a red-violet mix, is an example. From my sequence of photographs I can identify when that unintended mark top right appeared. However I have no idea what happened. One response would be to push for heightened awareness, to cut new plates, make new templates. I would prefer to move towards more spontaneous, forgiving methods, where accidents are opportunities and not ruination. Through these exercises I admire good print-making, craftsmanship as well as composition etc, much more. But I don’t aspire to it. I would prefer to find methods that fit more naturally with my own style, that I can turn to my own purposes.

    Print p4-66 preparation

    Print p4-66 preparation
    Click image for larger view

    I had intended a fourth layer, darker again, in finer lines. At this point I decided that would be counter-productive. Some focus was needed. Wanting to link to the original material on the paper, I did a quick sketch of a woman playing a harmonica, based on a photograph in the harmonica manual. You can see I worked on the same page used during print p4-64. I traced over this to create the final layer.
    Print p4-66

    Print p4-66

    The drawn lines are lost in the final print. There is too much going on, the page is messy, and I really needed to make a better sized plate that worked with the original page layout. Cropping around the printed area is more satisfactory, removing distractions and focusing the eye.

    Print p4-66 detail

    Print p4-66 detail

    I like the mixing of colour at the detail level, although I don’t think anyone could tell that the dark area over the lower face is cupped hands around an harmonica.

    Printing on old book pages has many possibilities. This paper was nice to work on, and there could be many books with more interesting layouts.

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    Print p4-67
    The final print is the ghost layers of p4-66, printed on rice paper.


    The build up of colour is attractive if not exciting. Perhaps using different colours it could suggest something like crocodile skin.
    Print p4-67

    Print p4-67

    The final print is … bland, odd. No major highs or lows.

    break
    On some level I scored on a number of my goals for this work session.

  • Working from both a three dimensional sample and a previous print, I was able to observe them more closely, to consider form, colour, contrasts of materials and textures.
  • Registration of layers didn’t improve, but my attitude to it has refined. I would like to have more control, so that when I break “rules” it is clearly a deliberate, considered choice rather than a sloppy accident. However precise, controlled, refined print-making is not my end goal. Where appropriate I will attempt to improve my techniques, but that remains a subsidiary task.
  • I introduced a number of new tools for mark-making. The stencil brush and my own hands and fingers hold a lot of promise. I also have some ideas for making a tool that helps with broad, more flowing lines.
  • Copy paper and rice paper provided interesting results and I’d like to continue with both. Old books could be a wonderful resource, although I find it a wrench to destroy any book, no matter the content or how many decades it has languished on a shelf.
  • None of the final images excite me. Working through the exercises has given me some base techniques, but I think benefit will come with more experience and also with mixing techniques – starting with an idea and question and choosing one or more techniques, rather than being technique based. On my original schedule I planned to submit this assignment on 21 December. However my tutor will be taking a break over the Christmas / New Year period. I’ve decided to continue with the exercises at my planned pace, but take some extra time at the end to mix things up.

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

    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
    Click image for larger view

    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.

    break

    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.

    break

    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.

    break

    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.

    break

    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.

    break

    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.

    break

    Print p4-60

    Sample p3-33

    Sample p3-33
    Click image for larger view

    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.

    break

    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.
    break
    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

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

    Print p4-42

    sketch_20150914 b

    sketch_20150914 b
    Click image for larger view

    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
    Click image for larger view

    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.

    break

    Print p4-43

    Print p4-43

    Print p4-43

    Print p4-43 detail

    Print p4-43 detail
    Click image for larger view

    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.

    break

    Print p4-44

    Print p4-44 detail 1

    Print p4-44 detail 1

    20140120 poster

    20140120 poster
    Click image for larger view

    Print p4-44

    Print p4-44
    Click image for larger view

    Print p4-44 detail 2

    Print p4-44 detail 2
    Click image for larger view

    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.

    break
    Print p4-45

    Print p4-45

    Print p4-45

    Felt tip pens, sample p2-76

    Felt tip pens, sample p2-76
    Click image for larger view

    Print p4-45 preparation

    Print p4-45 preparation
    Click image for larger view

    Print p4-45 partial transfer

    Print p4-45 partial transfer
    Click image for larger view

    Print p4-45 detail

    Print p4-45 detail
    Click image for larger view

    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.

    break
    Print p4-46

    Print p4-46 detail

    Print p4-46 detail

    Print p4-46

    Print p4-46
    Click image for larger view

    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.

    break
    Print p4-47

    Print p4-47 in progress

    Print p4-47 in progress

    Print p4-47

    Print p4-47
    Click image for larger view

    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.

    break
    Print p4-48

    Print p4-48

    Print p4-48

    Print p4-48 in progress

    Print p4-48 in progress
    Click image for larger view

    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.

    break
    Print p4-49

    Print p4-49 detail

    Print p4-49 detail

    Print p4-49

    Print p4-49
    Click image for larger view

    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.

    break
    Print p4-50

    Print p4-50

    Print p4-50

    sketch 20131107

    sketch 20131107
    Click image for larger view

    Print p4-50 detail

    Print p4-50 detail
    Click image for larger view

    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.

    break
    Print p4-51

    Print p4-51 detail

    Print p4-51 detail

    Print p4-51

    Print p4-51
    Click image for larger view

    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.

    break

    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

    T1-MMT-P4 Reflection on tutor feedback for Assignment 3, glorious failure and suspended disbelief

    A long title, and it’s taken me a few weeks to sit down and type it.

    In my own review of assignment 3 (12-October-2015) I described the exercises as absorbing, fascinating, and I was proud of my work. I wrote of my new and fragile sense of accomplishment.

    The feedback from my tutor was very positive, with comments on exciting ideas, curiosity and energy in approach, and “a good mixture of successes and failures”. In her report Rebecca identified strengths exhibited, with specific examples and an explanation of why they are important. This was a wonderful confirmation of my own sense of achievement, and it makes the general course expectations clearer and more personal – I know the behaviours to pursue, repeat, strengthen.

    Positives include:

  • Returning to previous parts of the course for materials and techniques, building on knowledge;
  • Using a range of drawing techniques and media to explore samples, getting the most information I can from them;
  • Embracing failure – interesting things happen when we take risks;
  • A consideration of composition, helping me to make decisions about the direction to take;
  • Taking a technique and exploring it further.
  • My writing is articulate and analytical, my research is varied, my blog is organised, my photos good.

    So far so wonderful. But…

    it arrived just as I was coming to a thudding crash in printmaking (not really sure “thudding crash” makes sense, but it certainly captures the feeling).

  • I’ve found only minor purpose from previous materials, a little printing on cardboard or texturing with a previous sample.
  • So far I haven’t found a way to draw or extend what I have printed. In the last assignment I was exploring a three dimensional sample in two dimensional media, which is a very open process. Everything currently is so flat.
  • Prints are so familiar I’ve found it difficult to let go of expectations. I haven’t been able to treat a failure as a discovery of new possibilities.
  • I’m experiencing printmaking as something very technical, and finding it difficult to attend to compositional and aesthetic concerns.
  • Stuck in the fundamentals I don’t feel close to finding new territory.
  • Previously I had some great, new materials. Now I’m using very nice mainstream printing inks. Nothing seems quirky, fresh or experimental. It’s all so flat – physically and emotionally. Getting a great report for previous work just seemed to highlight how off-track I’ve got.

    I’m continuing to challenge my mindset. Right at the beginning of the assignment I noted the different focus of this course to a printmaking course (18-October-2015). Even when I don’t like a print as a whole I’ve tried to find a detail or something positive about each one. In some work yet to be posted I’ve tried to follow up or develop ideas. Also yet to be posted is more research, very focused on little details from other artists which I might be able to adapt to my use.

    Perhaps the most important challenge-to-mindset relates to my tutor’s remarks on the vulnerability of the artist. “It was very interesting to read your understanding of how vulnerable the artist is. Even though this is scary it is also very positive. It means you are at the point where interesting and exciting art/design can be made. It is evidence that you are taking risks and perhaps challenging preconceived ideas. The balance of not being too precious yet taking your work seriously is important. In my experience many artists, even very successful ones feel vulnerable when their work is first out in the world. Some avoid preview exhibitions nights in case the work is viewed negatively.” (Rebecca Fairley).

    How much more vulnerable we are to our own inner critic? My old harridan seemed transformed. I could look at an apparent failure and find it glorious, or if not glorious then shrug and move on to pursuing all the other possibilities being generated. Now I’m not finding exciting possibilities. I’m not being open, letting go of expectations. It’s harder to nurture that vulnerability.

    I need to let go, find fresh eyes, lighten up. A favourite story – in maths at school the teacher would introduce some new, bizarre topic and say lots of things that didn’t mean anything and didn’t hang together. Others in the class would interrupt with lots of questions, trying to make sense of all that new information. I’d sit back and accept everything as a given. I suspended disbelief. Later when we’d had the complete presentation, worked examples, etc, it would make sense (or not, in which case just following the instructions usually worked). It was effective, and overall I got further than the ones who needed results straight away.

    I need to suspend disbelief. I need to see what is happening in front of me, challenge those preconceived ideas and the inner critic. Maybe I’ll find the potential, find new paths, new risks to take. Worst case I do an adequate job, just following instructions. Turning up and doing the work is a good thing, and maybe if I give myself a chance it will lead to better things.

    T1-MMT-P4 Reflection on tutor feedback for Assignment 3, glorious failure and suspended disbelief
    Textiles 1 – Mixed Media for Textiles
    Part 4: Mono and collatype printing
    Reflection on tutor feedback for Assignment 3, glorious failure and suspended disbelief


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