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31 December 2016

There has been procrastination and sloth. It’s too hot, too humid, too much seasonal food and drink. Now there’s not enough time – tomorrow I’m off for my first week of summer school. So this post is a brief overview, a couple of bits already written, and a line drawn underneath ready for the new year.

Exhibition: Tatsuo Miyajima: Connect with Everything
This exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art is part of the Sydney International Art Series. A wonderful experience. A very solid philosophical base, incredible variety in working within chosen area.

Tatsuo Miyajima began as a performance artist, but felt it wasn’t generous to viewers – it existed only in the moment. He turned to objects. I’m distorting to keep brief, but he presents/explores the cycle/spiral/sine wave of counting down 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 (light, life), then not zero but void, (dark, death, but full of energy) and the countdown repeats.

Another concept is “Art in You” artwork exists so people, the audience, can discover the arts in themselves.

Works reflect on the importance of life, the slaughter of the 20th century (MegaDeath), the irreversible direction of time or life (Arrow of time).

It was serene, hypnotic, deeply thought and felt.

Unfortunately my photos are rubbish, particularly those of works involving led lights (the majority, the most mesmerising). I’ll include a couple and hope you follow the link to the MCA website instead.

Collage
I’ve mentioned Elwyn Lynn a few times, including some of his collage works (2-Oct-2016) and a response work of mine (16-Oct-2016). I’ve since been reading Peter Pinson’s book Elwyn Lynn: metaphor + texture, and learnt some more not only about the artist but also about the history of some Sydney art institutions, society and politics.

After a long period painting with heavy textural and material effects, Lynn turned to collaged elements when he became interested in (relative) flatness, the way meaning could be established simply through contiguity. There was often a central motif set against rhythmic horizontal bands. Pinson suggests that “perhaps the central challenge of his collages [was] getting right the balance between the opposing imperatives of order and (the appearance of) urgency.” A critic as well as an artist, Lyn was conscious of theoretical possibilities such as collage’s disruption of the picture plane and the often surreal intent in juxtaposition of images. As an artist it allowed him to play with references and themes, veiled, obliquely, amusingly…

Lynn collected and used ephemera from his own travels and life and gifted by others. These could be interpreted as private diarist collections, but Lynn saw them as his environment, shared and known by others, just as the landscapes explored by other artists can be. Pinson writes “his environment was books, travel, exhibitions, museum visits, and images and impressions from print and screen.” That excites me, an Australian who feels alien at the beach (thoroughly screened and anointed to fend off the sun) and released and at home in dim caverns of polished concrete and careful lit art.

Later in life Lynn continued to use collage. Pinson suggests he was interested in formal contraditions, combining careful geometric shapes with roughly torn forms. To my eyes there is still a rigidity in the compositions, with limited and deliberate breakage of a structural grid.

First of a number of pages, based on Lynn's compositions

First of a number of pages, based on Lynn’s compositions

In my collage project the brief combined ideas of the body (from Sally Smart) and the formal enquiries of John Nixon (see 27-Nov-2016). Mining the images of Lynn’s work suggested some new frameworks of composition. With this I wanted to combine a revitalized view of “the body”, inspired by my reading of Susan Best and her insights on Eva Hesse.

Having got this far in my thinking, I woke early one morning and decided to play. I looked at what I’d written and sketched, then ignored it. Over the days since I’ve worked quickly, with whatever popped into my head and hands. There’s a few thinking of Lynn, a return to some of the formal investigation with different papers… From the initial brief (27-Nov-2016) the only points completely met were the daily average and the manner of work – quick and intuitive. I’m happy with that – especially given previous dislike of collage.

Altered book
Also stretching collage skills was a day spent with Claire (TactualTextiles), starting an altered book. There was cutting out and gluing of pages, watercolours, collage, monoprinting, talking… Much more to be done.

Drawing
On to chapter 2 of Daniela Brambilla Human Figure Drawing: Drawing gestures, postures and movements – Seeing Contours. It began with some experiments with different media, then a session drawing my son (slouched on the couch watching TV in the heat, more movement of arms and legs than I’d like).

Trying out different lines and marks with different drawing materials, I didn’t get through all I’ve collected, but feel enough to be getting on with and my brain filled. The most surprising/interesting was wax pastel lines with charcoal rubbed over. It caught the charcoal, the line darkens and seems sharper, with still a hint of the colour underneath. In fact that whole page – rubbed over with charcoal to give a base mid grey, lights added using eraser, white charcoal, white chalk pencil, darks with different charcoals and that altered crayon – is exciting.

I’d like to do much more life contour drawing, but finding it tricky when wanting longer poses – ie, not just people moving about their daily life. A few opportunities coming up.

Reading
Three books being read in tandem. The idea is that they all throw light on each other. More another post.

No reflection in this post. No time. Also conscious that my 5 month plan is in its final weeks – so there’ll be more detailed review after that.

4 December 2016

Art from Milingimbi : taking memories back

This exhibition at AGNSW (link) resurfaced some of my recent concerns about museums, their collections and the politics and power imbalance of groups (20-Nov-2016).

Tom Djawa Djarrka (water goanna)

Tom Djawa
Djarrka (water goanna)

The descriptions of individual works mix personal and clan group significance with formal critical concepts. For example of Djarrka (water goanna)
by Tom Djawa we are informed:
In ‘Djarrka (water goanna)’ c1959 Djäwa provides an image of the black and yellow Mertens’ water monitor that relates to his mother’s clan group. The animated forms of the goannas are exquisitely realised, with intricate detailing of fine dots, dashes, line work and cross-hatching. Set against a plain ground, their dynamic forms give a sense of dimensionality, their seemingly suspended bodies anchored by the assured yellow line that dissects the composition, dividing the male goannas from the female.

There are placards with images and biographical information on each of the identified artists. According to the signage at the entrance many of the works were collected 1949 to 1959 by the mission superintendent. The sign concludes “Working with the Milingimbi community to realise this exhibition and the accompanying publication, has also allowed the artists’ descendants to reclaim their cultural inheritance and play an active role in the interpretation and presentation of the artworks … to take their memories back”. Presumably that’s reflected in those descriptions mentioned earlier. I didn’t detect other active participation in the exhibition space.

Am I too cynical, too negative, too guilty? During the week I finished reading the simplest words: a storyletter’s journey by Alex Miller. In the life experiences of this Australian immigrant from the UK, the friendships he has formed, the stories he tells, there is hope – that the story isn’t finished. It’s probably still true the best I can do is keep out of peoples’ way, but maybe I should add some trust and hope.

Nude: art from the Tate collection
I did a quick reconnoiter of this exhibition the day it opened, and two more visits this week. Still lots to see – there are around 100 items (the magic number at the moment, including from the British Museum (20-Nov-2016) and in Sculpture by the sea (6-Nov-2016). I suppose it’s needed for “blockbuster” status.)

sketch20161202_01Nude: Fitzroy Street no. 1 (1916) by Matthew Smith has captured me every visit. I’ve been excited by his work before – in AGNSW’s collection (31-Jan-2014) and at Carrick Hill (16-Oct-2016). Wonderful red in all of them – making photographs particularly disappointing.

In this painting the strong complementary colours could riot, but the spine of the nude anchors the composition. The body stretches, expands to more than fill the canvas from the elbow extending beyond the frame to the tip-toe feet. Complex angles in bands of colour create a space to hold the volume of the nude. The relatively subdued yellow of the chair stabilizes, provides rest. On the same wall in the gallery space are Pablo Picasso’s Nude woman in a red armchair (Femme nue dans un fauteuil rouge) (1932) (link) and Matisse’s Draped nude (Femme nue drapée) (1936) (link) – both fascinating, but don’t demand my attention in the same way.

Actually I think it would be easy to spend a few days sitting looking at that wall. The way the body has been placed within each picture, relating to the space…

When working on my related collage (below) it occurred to me the lost elbow avoided a disruptive pointed angle – a distracting flaw and loss of flow in my quick sketches.

Repetition Collage
Quickly apparent that it was a good idea to include the word average in the brief for this investigation (see 27-Nov-2016). I’m keeping quick and intuitive, waiting for more experience and a body of examples before looking critically at results.

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2. Matthew. Printed out section of life drawing. Paper strip stencil, roughly painted corners in black (attempted monoprint, but forgot how quickly this paint dries.
3. Fingerprint. Stenciled repeated thumb prints (very directly identity and body) through a circular stencil. Played with the idea of a medal on a ribbon, ended playing with different sides and orientations of patterned paper.
4. Nancy’s burden. The shape keeps reminding me of a cross. Fabric from an old dress – the owner has been in high level care for almost 6 years now. The background was scrap from an earlier day – another quick decision.
5. Kiss. An image of Rodin’s The Kiss from AGNSW publicity material. Distorted hessian overlaid to reveal and conceal.
6. Presence or absence? Slices of John Currin’s Honeymoon nude, again from publicity for Nude:art from the Tate collection.
Practice version

Practice version

7. From Matthew Smith. Based on my examination of Nude: Fitzroy Street no. 1 in the exhibition. Sadly this version is weaker than my first impression or the practice version.
7. Ascending. A variation on the shapes and imagery I’ve been playing with so far.

Drawing
I started the week still working with croquis cafe, but began to lose confidence in basic shapes and proportions (have mislaid a handout from Matthew). This is why I’ve started and stopped before – repeating the same thing didn’t seem to be getting anywhere. Quite suddenly remembered a recently purchased book on human figure drawing (how did that slip my mind?) – Daniela Brambilla Human Figure Drawing: Drawing gestures, postures and movements.. Could I work with that?

On Tuesday night I tried to find some energy, looking at the model posing on the screen, trying to surround the shape. There was no energy – not in me, after the work day, but also not in the static pose of the model.

Wednesday morning bus I was reading John Berger’s Bento’s sketchbook, a bit about drawing María Muñoz, a description of the dancer’s preparatory position, the Bridge, …”between those two fixed points the whole body is expectant, waiting, suspended.”

Parts from both Berger and Brambilla seemed to click, I was seeing people moving around me differently. In the food court at lunch, the next day in the local plaza, I tried to see fleeting moments, bodies in space.

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They don’t look like much, nothing different – but my energy and attitude were.

Then another shift of gear – a last minute opportunity for a day’s Life Drawing Workshop with Sue Vesely at Sydney Community College. It’s now late Sunday and no time for a detailed story, but a few quick notes I want to remember:

The importance of grounding with feet; the vaguer you are the move the viewer will read something into it; pair lines that echo|answer each other; editing lighting – choose what you want to use, simplify; measure, check, accuracy – or poetic, the grace of the figure, the emotional response; find the line of the spine, then shoulders and hips, then stick figure, and build on framework.

Sue gave demonstrations and her own notes on that last part, also tips on drawing the head (see the eggs she’d made for the class in the slideshow), handling light, drawing eyes and hands… We had a male model in the morning and a female in the afternoon. I used charcoal and a full A2 sheet each attempt. An intense and satisfying day. Unfortunately I didn’t have any fixative, and wouldn’t have wanted to use it in the confines of the class, so everything is already a bit extra blurred and messy.

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Reading: Joke Robaard How do you repair a weaving flaw
http://makebelieve.ie/how-do-you-repair-a-weaving-flaw.html
This reading is from http://makebelieve.ie/, one of the links given by Jessica Hemmings (27-Nov-2016). I’m not going to discuss the ideas presented in the article. Instead this is a list of questions and ideas that occurred to me while reading. The quotes included are taken out of context and re-interpreted according to my personal interests.

“The gap is the very essence of weaving.” I’ve been focused on the orthogonal warp and weft, but this could lead to presence and absence, literal or metaphorical gaps.
Purposefully leaving holes, the choice of whether to make connections. A hole is not equal to a flaw. (hole or whole?)
“fastening off the edges in a good manner” How could one explore “a good manner”?
“Weaving” – an object; an (ongoing?) activity
“the idea of manipulability” ???
“the level of pure chaos” – is it suggesting that is at a macro level? In weaving the detail is controlled, placed. Also at the level of the spun thread, fibres aligned. We can (can we?) choose to give space to chaos.
Each participant speaking with expertise and subjectivity.

Too late. Too incoherent. Darn.
Try again next week 🙂

Weekly roundup 25 September 2016

Lecture: Glenn Barkley The Laverty and Ann Lewis Collections (part of the AGNSW Collectors & Collections series).
This was a heart-felt and very personal lecture, as much about people and relationships as the art. Some staggering images of homes filled with mainly Australian art. Glenn Barkley’s musings as a curator about the combinations of works were particularly fascinating.

Exhibition: Jonathan Jones barrangal dyara (skin and bones)
This Kaldor public art program provides an amazing and varied experience. It’s impossible to sum up, I don’t have words – yet language is one of the most moving parts.

Jonathan Jones has reminded Sydney of its history – the 19th century Garden Palace building in our Royal Botanic Garden, built to house the Sydney International Exhibition in 1879, burnt to the ground in just a few hours in 1882. Among the losses was a huge collection of indigenous artifacts as well as early records of European Australians.

jonathanjones_01Jones has recreated the physical footprint of the building. Aerial photographs here show the massive scale of the project. At the heart of the space, where the dome once soared, is a circular garden now planted with kangaroo grass. A soundscape suggests the grinding of seeds into flour, voices of women teaching children, then a whoosh of fire. Most of the artifacts lost were related to men, presenting an image of savages overcome. Here women are the core of the community, peoples who cultivated land, made bread, used controlled fire as a means of rebirth of plant-life.

jonathanjones_02The perimeter of the building is marked by thousands of white shields. Made of gypsum they suggest ceremony as well as war. There are a variety of shapes, reflecting many clans, but they don’t have individual markings.

jonathanjones_03I particularly liked areas where the shields had grass growing up around them, and where they balanced at all angles on enormous tree roots, becoming an integral part of the land. It was such a powerful statement of place – this exhibition could only ever be here. There was also a powerful sense of being welcomed – by the elders of the Gadigal clan to Gadigal land, Aboriginal land, and also by the many invigilators and volunteers, some of whom share that heritage.

jonathanjones_04With one young man with a personal connection we discussed the importance of language. He was so proud and happy to share with us. There are eight soundscapes within the area, and Jones collaborated with various language groups, contemporary Aboriginal voices in the landscape.

There is an extensive range of talks and events included in the project. The breadth and depth of thought and attention is impressive. Also impressive is the positive vision shared. While traumatic, the devastating fire can be seen as a cultural burn, cleansing, providing space for regeneration of a more complex, inclusive culture.

Other art I’ve been seeing lately I’ve ended by looking for learning for my own work. This event is so far beyond that. My lesson is not to always analyse, glean, plan, take inspiration. Experience, feel, live.

Practical project

Kangaroo grass

Kangaroo grass

Early reading and experiment with collage was recorded 22-Sept-2016. I planned a mono-printing session, building a collection of related patterned papers for future collage use.

While exploring barrangal dyara (skin and bones) I collected some pieces of dried kangaroo grass that had fallen on the path, thinking they could be used in the printing.

Knotless net

Knotless net

Thinking of the dilly-bags that might have been used to collect seed heads, I wanted to try knotless netting again as another texturing device for mono-printing. The net would have to be quite open to ensure the pattern printed and didn’t create a total resist. It would also need to be flat. A recent experiment with that didn’t go so well (11-Sep-2016). This time, rather than trying to modify the stitch to go backwards and forwards across the work I attached the centre of a new length of thread every second row and worked in my natural left-to-right direction for every row. The ends of the thread were worked into a thick braid down the right-hand side, although perhaps in a future attempt I will try creating a fringe. I used a commercial waxed linen thread, which is very obedient and easy to use.

monoprint_20160924_01Mono-printing, all sorts of oddments of paper were used – paper bags, tissue, coloured card, various weights… I used the gelatin plate, akua pigments, the kangaroo grass, netting, a couple of texturing things. Ink colours were lamp black, red oxide and burnt umber – they seemed to fit with the fire and earth of the Garden Palace.

The prints are still drying, but the next and very big question is will I be able to make sense of it all in a collage???

A few closeups:

Reading: Laura Breede “ArchiTextile: Clothed walls from the middle ages to today” In Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg Art & Textiles: Fabric as material and concept in modern art from Klimt to the present Art & Textiles Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz Verlag.

There is reference to Gottfried Semper in 1860, placing textile art as a primeval art, a source for all other arts. Yurts, tapestry wall coverings, curtain walls of glass.

Most of the modern examples are use by artists of Jacquard weaving. I always have trouble with this – what does weaving bring to the artwork beyond the original source painting or photograph? Here at least part appears to be the deception or surprise at close examination. Still, I want textiles to have some unique edge or reason, not just a double-take by the viewer. It shouldn’t be a simple translation – and from the photos it’s hard to tell what transformation the weave ha provided.

Collage: Not mine. Some wonderful examples of digital collage with a surreal edge at https://lemanshots.wordpress.com/.

Finally I went to the opening of another exhibition today, Tracey Deep’s Shadow Poem at Sturt Gallery. A wonderful exhibition and experience which needs its own post.

Collage

Collage. The very word makes me nervously check my fingers for stickiness.

Some initial reading and investigation has broadened my understanding of the widely varying ends supported by collage and assemblage.

A whole range of materials, real world elements – fabric, paper, bits of ephemera – all arranged and glued on a surface. The potential for invention. Transforming. Tension of previous and changed states.

Mary Delany Poinciana Pulcherrima (Decandria Monogynia) © Trustees of the British Museum

Mary Delany
Poinciana Pulcherrima (Decandria Monogynia)
© Trustees of the British Museum

Examples known from 12th century Japan, crafts and folk arts, the garden of Mary Delaney (see 28-Aug-2016).

  • Used by cubists to emphasise the flatness of the surface. Incongruity – serious art using folk art technique. Breaking boundaries.
  • Picasso, Braque, Juan Gris.
    Eric Wilson.
    What would it be like to play with a non-flat supporting surface – corrugated cardboard or an apple tray?

  • Dada – absurd, satirical
  • Kurt Schwitters
    Raoul Hausmann

  • Surrealists – a strange new reality. Chance, juxtaposition, unfamiliar
  • Max Ernst, Roland Penrose
    James Gleeson
    Sidney Nolan, quilted engravings

  • Pop art – exploring imagery of popular culture, parody
  • Eduardo Paolozzi, Richard Hamilton (note later digital work)

  • nouveau réalisme – torn poster technique. Layers. Compositional unity. Capturing a place and time. Typography. Of the street. Spontaneous. Link to readymades. Anonymous public expression (in tearing of posters). Implicitly political.
  • Jacques Mahé de la Villeglé, Raymond Hains, François Dufrêne, Arman, Yves Klein, Jean Tinguely

  • Contemporary. Approaches include altering to challenge assumptions of viewer; a formal exploration; political.
  • Formal exploration:
    David Aspden. Colour and shape arrangements. Use of torn edge – three dimensional quality.
    Rosalie Gascoigne (assemblages). Imaginative associations, evocative.

    Spiritual realm:
    Rose Nolan, Eugene Carchesio

    Political themes:
    Katherine Hattam (autobiographical, feminist), Tony Albert

    Layla Curtis

    Barry Martin Movement Collage (1965) Representations of movement – selection of images, orientation and placement circling the centre, torn edges, angles all build speed and motion, sculptural potential of the surface. links to pop art and nouveau réalisme.

    Nigel Henderson http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/henderson-collage-t01915. Really drawn to this work, and to the explanation of the artist’s process and ideas in the full catalogue entry. Scrutinising or looking into something that has caught his attention, disturbed him. Building up fields of interesting visual data from which you may assemble later. Enlarging, stacking, linking up lines in oil paint… Fits with my intention of creating base materials with printing, but with additional depth of relationship.

    Robert Klippel. Sculpture and collage symbiotic.

    Response
    I’m definitely drawn to the more abstract formal explorations. Nigel Henderson’s work and that of Elwyn Lewis which I saw at AGNSW last night particularly excite.

    To break the ice I decided to use known source material and focus on pattern. A plain background with textured but flat collage materials.
    * Base: a large buff yellow envelope, opened out.
    * Collage materials: mono-printed brushmarks on newspaper. Painted lines based on previous nude sketches. Lines cut out with a scalpel (I briefly tried tearing them out, but with all the texture of the newsprint and the brushmarks a crisper line looked better).

    collage 20160922

    collage 20160922

    I like the flat texture. Much time was spent trying out arrangements and there was some unintended shifting during the pasting process. Overall it’s quite lively and some interesting shapes created. There’s some flow and movement. I tried an overall arrangement but marginally preferred leaving that area on the left so I could move up to the right. Not entirely successful.

    There is some lifting in a couple of places creating shadow lines which detract from the flatness. Some of the combinations where different pieces of paper overlap are clumsy. That piece of coloured newsprint centre right was unintended. I quite like it – just wish it was intentional.

    collage 20160922 detail

    collage 20160922 detail

    The nude sketching lines and monoprinting process produces very attractive texture. I’ll use this idea again.

    Having an initial overview of the terrain, I’ll start researching artists whose work particularly attracts me. I’d like to devise a brief based on each, making my own explorations.

    Resources
    Helen Campbell (2016 a) “Stuck on you” In Look Art Gallery Society of New South Wales 0916
    Helen Campbell (2016 b) Art of parts: collage and assemblage from the collection Art Gallery NSW [online] http://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/artsets/6mga1g
    Tate Collage http://www.tate.org.uk/learn/online-resources/glossary/c/collage

    Weekly roundup 28 August 2016

    Lecture: Michael Hill Cardinal Scipione Borghese (part of the AGNSW Collectors & Collections series).

    A lot of material surrounding this lecture is available online – articles by Michael Hill https://nassydney.academia.edu/MichaelHill, “The Patronage of a Disenfranchised Nephew: Scipione Borghese and San Crisogono, 1618-28”, Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, 2001, 432-449 and “Cardinal Dying: Bernini’s Bust of Scipione Borghese”, Australian Journal of Art, vol. 14, 1998, 9-26. Some great visual material too – 360 panoramas of San Crisogono http://panoramy.zbooy.pl/360/pan/rzym-san-crisogono/e and Santa Maria della Vittoria http://panoramy.zbooy.pl/360/pan/rzym-kosciol-santa-maria-della-vittoria/e. Enough reading and looking for many weeks!

    A couple of particular points for me. First ideas of “restoration”. Nowadays we focus on the material of the item, keeping and supporting as much original material as possible, maybe reversing earlier renovations. In Borghese’s time restoration was of the symbolic significance, and a major upgrade or change could enhance that.

    Second, Bernini’s Apollo and Daphne. It reveals everything at once but there is still a sequence, a narrative. Poetic.

    Almost basketry
    I’ve finished the project introduced 14-Aug-2016.

    Coiled mulberry paper basket with felted paper rim

    Coiled mulberry paper basket with felted paper rim


    Coiled baskets, crochet and felted paper rims

    Coiled baskets, crochet and felted paper rims

    The view to the left shows some of the technical issues. Although wanting a lightly stitched vessel with the paper dominant, I created way too many stitches at the beginning of coiling. I thought I needed more, as I was making a wider vessel, but grossly missed the mark. So no nice spiraling lines. Still, I was able to match sizes and join the paper rim reasonably neatly, and the proportion of rim to coiling looks fine.

    Given the initial, smaller vessel missed out on the lacy paper, I gave it a crocheted picot edge using the same cottolin as stitched the coiling.

    The end results in the colours chosen are rather too pretty and flowery for my taste. And technically weak. Still, a serviceable proof of concept and some ideas I would like to take further. The current thought is to add in another new technique, some strong, graphic monoprinting on the paper before coiling and felting, and be a bit more adventurous in the shaping.

    Reading

    Mary Delany Poinciana Pulcherrima (Decandria Monogynia) © Trustees of the British Museum

    Mary Delany
    Poinciana Pulcherrima (Decandria Monogynia)
    © Trustees of the British Museum

    Molly Peacock The Paper Garden: Mrs Delany [Begins her life’s work] at 72.

    I’ve been reading this book over the past few weeks. It’s partly biography, partly autobiography, partly musings on creativity, relationships, life…

    Mary Delany (1700 – 1788) lived a life sometimes difficult, sometimes joyful, almost always it seems busy and determined. She drew, designed, stitched, made grottoes of shells, and at the age of 72 started making collages of coloured papers, often adding detail in watercolours. It reminds me of Ruth Hadlow’s strands of investigation (25-Feb-2016), coming together in a moment’s observation of a fallen petal to become something new.

    Enjoyable, thought-provoking reading.

    Sketching
    In my previous post (27-Aug-2016) I described my renewed excitement in mark-making following a class with Vivien Haley.

    A tricky question in found pockets of time is “what to draw?”. I’m not currently working with samples I want to record and explore, looking around my workroom everything seems too familiar, I’m not an outdoorsy person… so I’ve chosen people, faces and bodies, as go-to subject matter. In this I’ve been influenced by some incomplete reading referring to Kevin Connor as a compulsive drawer, the basis of his art (actually in an education kit about David Fairbairn, another influence). I’m not a compulsive drawer, but maybe I can pretend a little and get marginally closer.

    So the plan has become Cafe Croquis (http://www.onairvideo.com/home.html) as often as I can, plus a small sketchbook in my bag and trying to fill those odd moments with faces – either live or from photos. So far I’ve used pencil and charcoal as well as the monoprinting, and a couple of PITT artist pens when out. I’ll never be a good draftsman, but I can improve and in any case that’s not the point. A line, a mark, may be all I need.

    At some point I may start being more selective, but tonight it feels faster just to do a mosaic dump, warts and all.

    T1-MMT-P5-s7 Reflection – Mixed Media for Textiles

    The goals I set when starting Mixed Media for Textiles (20-Mar-2015) were:

    • Make the course my own.
    • Take risks and challenge myself.
    • Surprise myself.
    • Enjoy myself.

    For me the course has been an outstanding success on all of these. I have taken sidetracks, for example into 3D printing and the 3D pen. I have interpreted various requirements to suit my own interests, such as exploring presentation as prototype/maquette-making in stage 6 of the final assignment. My attitude to risk and failure has changed dramatically, actively seeking to push boundaries and seeing failures, whether opportunities or not worth following up, as a normal part of the process. My confidence has soared. It’s been a very busy, enjoyable, engaging, revealing year.

    The working process provided in the course seems a very good fit to my personal preferences. The cycle of Research – Sample making – Recording – Sorting, always experimenting and exploring, works well. Sometimes in practice rather than a well defined sequence the different stages seem to overlap, but I think that actually there are micro-cycles of making-recording-sorting happening in virtually every work session, while research is ongoing. A workshop with Ruth Hadlow (25-Feb-2016) gave me a way of developing my own briefs, and the combination of process and self-generated briefs offers a way of working in the future that really excites me.

    One of the most satisfying parts of the course has been taking new materials and techniques and developing them across assignments. For example:

    • Failed plastic bags producing a dribbly mess plus interesting samples – p3-33 (14-Sep-2015)
    • Plus a quick sample with the dregs of resin coating a leaf – p3-37 (also 14-Sep-2015)
    • Plus a mixing stick left in the resin pot which had developed a little “foot” of resin (not photographed)
    • Was combined with a heat-distorted organza sample from an earlier assignment – p1-75 (21-Apr-015)
    • To create a new sample, p3-46 (23-Sep-2015).
    • Building to a new technique that could be used in further samples, such as p5-4 (31-Jan-2016)

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    That development merged with a different sequence:

    • Crumpling and shaping paper, for example p1-15 (30-Mar-2015)
    • Was used with mono-printing, p4-32 (27-Oct-2015), to create additional texture and pattern in the print.
    • That sample was later reformed in a vessel shape and dribbled with resin (see earlier sequence) to create sample p5-3, part of my final collection (31-Jan-2016)

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    Sketchbook work has been integral through most areas of the course from initial research (for example 20-Mar-2015), recording samples (such as sample p2-2, 6-Jun-2015), an exploration of mark-making, media and scale (28-Sep-2015), developing ideas for sample development (included on page 047 15-Feb-2016). I struggled with maintaining a sketchbook during the printing of assignment 4 (one exception was developing the design for print p4-37, 3-Nov-2015), but refocused and came back strongly during assignment 5 (for example page 015, posted 10-Jan-2016). I extended my skills in additional workshops, for example mixed media with Graham Marchant (24-Jan-2016) and a mind-opening workshop with Ruth Hadlow (25-Feb-2016, the results ongoing as seen page 054, 27-Feb-2016). Through these and more I have experimented with a wide range of media and substrates.

    Print p4-36

    Print p4-36

    Research informs and underpins a lot of the work done in this course, together with large sections which have been more materials led experimentation. Research on Degas (22-Oct-2015), including an attempt to copy directly from his work (print p4-36, posted 27-Oct-2015) helped me work through initial problems and discouragment in the printing assignment.

    p5-sketchpage 036 b; 20160129

    p5-sketchpage 036 b; 20160129

    Encouragment from my tutor, Rebecca Fairley, to really pick apart my research material to learn from it, bore fruit in my work on Gillian Lowndes (26-Feb-2016). The watercolour sketch shown here (posted 31-Jan-2016) was one of many based on Lowndes work, and shows a piece that was pivotal in my presentation efforts in the final assignment.

    Lorna Murray Making Space 2014 Detail, inset full view

    Lorna Murray
    Making Space
    2014
    Detail, inset full view

    As well as focused research based on specific coursework I enjoy going to galleries, exhibitions, museums, lectures and so on, and as well as general enrichment these often provided insights relevant to my course. For example Lorna Murray’s work seen at the 2nd Tamworth Textile Triennial (22-May-2015) became relevant research for joining straight edges with a gap (14-Jun-2016), and in this Reflection I realise would also have been of interest to my development of a collection.

    Interaction with other OCA students has been of growing importance to my experience of distance study. I read many blogs, maintaining a blog roll at http://fibresofbeing.blogspot.com.au/ and there are ongoing relationships via comments and in general discussion on the OCA textiles forum. More directly various students have assisted me during this course, for instance allowing me to include their work in research (7-Feb-2016), responding to a request on the Forum for research suggestions, and after another request giving thoughtful feedback on my video attempts (including 5-Feb-2016).

    My time management has been strong throughout this course and I believe that is both a cause and an effect of relatively low stress levels and high enjoyment factor over the year. The course promotes experimentation and sampling, which really has no defined end. From the start I have had an overall timetable, which has become more detailed when working on a particular section, down to weekly and sometimes daily goals. I stop when I run out of time (making sure there’s sufficient time left to complete wrap-up, blog posts etc). I’ll be submitting this assignment two weeks after the original date set, a follow-on from an extra two weeks taken on printing and year end break. There will always be loose ends, more I wish I’d done, more ideas and enticing paths to explore. I could always do better – but at the cost of not doing something else. I think this is worth recording, because it’s something I want to hold on to.

    Assessment criteria
    Demonstration of technical and visual skills
    Throughout the course I have tried to give care and attention to my making. I have a range of textile skills built up over the years and working in mixed media gave me the opportunity to adapt those and develop more.

    Sample p5-12 In progress

    Sample p5-12 In progress

    Not all experiments have been successful. An interim stage of sample p5-12 (23-Feb-2016) had a beautiful simplicity, an intriguing shape, and I was very tempted to stop at that point. However I had further development planned and felt impelled to take the risk. The final result is problematic. It was useful to give height in group presentation, it provides a link between plaster, resin and organza samples. However there are technical flaws and clumsy elements. It is much less satisfying as an object in itself.

    Sample p2-3 a

    Sample p2-3 a

    Composition and attractive presentation of work, especially using photography in this blog, has been a goal from the beginning of the course (shown is joining sample p2-3, 6-Jun-2015).

    Sample p5-43

    Sample p5-43

    This led to the decision to make photographic and video presentation of my collection of samples the final work in Assignment 5, including photo sample p5-43 (12-Mar-2016).

    Quality of outcome
    This blog has remained the mainstay of my presentation of work. Feedback on its organisation and ease of navigation has been positive, and it’s certainly a central part of my creative work, recording almost eight years of explorations.

    Recently I have added video to my presentation methods and I see that as a valuable addition to writing and photographs. During the course I have also created a series of pinterest boards, which allow easy collation of inspiration and potential research subjects and also a quick method for me to trace back to specific samples.

    Demonstration of creativity

    p5-sketch with 3D pen - sample p5-7

    p5-sketch with 3D pen – sample p5-7

    Sample p2-6 Side view

    Sample p2-6 Side view

    Mixed media for textiles has provided a lot of opportunities to experiment with materials. My approach has been to work repeatedly with a relatively small set, finding new variations. For example drawing in plastic filament with a 3D pen allowed creation of new work, such as p2-6 (11-Jun-2015) and provided a means of sketching / recording / focusing on other samples, as seen in a sketch of sample p5-7 (6-Mar-2016). I believe this approach both stretches and deepens my skills and knowledge.

    As well as exploring a particular material it has been rewarding to use multiple materials creating related visual effects. For example there are many samples using corrugations. There were holes cut and shadow lines in cardboard in assignment 1 (including p1-129, 7-May-2015), corners in assignment 2 (p2-25, 27-Jun-2015), a similarity of form in a more ambitious join in p2-5 (7-Jun-2015), molded, distorted, stitched corrugations in composimold in assignment 3 (p3-33, 6-Sep-2015), at a stretch one could include the accordion pleated printing of p4-32 in assignment 4 (27-Oct-2015) but actual printing on corrugated cardboard (28-Sep-2015) is a better fit with the theme, and finally, in my opinion most beautifully, in plaster in assignment 5 (p5-11, 23-Feb-2016).

    Context
    I find the process of reflection in this blog an important part of seeing, focusing, on work done. During the final Part of the course I used a physical sketchbook in a more consistent way, but also periodically uploaded and reflected on each page. I have found it very useful to look at the work after a short break, with fresh eyes.

    Sample p2-79_Completed

    Sample p2-79_Completed

    As described above my research has included both in-depth analyses and more casual influences. One interesting exercise which was based on a combination of multiple fragments of research was wrapping an outdoor space, marking the changing boundary of light and shadow (sample p2-79, 31-Jul-2015). The link to the wrapping topic was perhaps tenuous, but it led to some intriguing ideas and outcome. With hindsight one can detect my ongoing interest in exploring space.

    Sample p2-4 Front and backlit views

    Sample p2-4 Front and backlit views

    Another ongoing thread is based in the work of Eva Hesse. I did initial research on this artist in the context of joining and wrapping (7-Jun-2015) and a response to her work can be seen in sample p2-4 (a separate post 7-Jun-2015). Hesse’s work was again relevant to my research in Part 5, looking at collections of vessels. As detailed in my reflection of that Part (27-Mar-2016) that research is ongoing.

    “Ongoing”. Having reflected on the past year’s work it feels very appropriate to finish with that word, because that is what I want to do. Go on. It’s just not clear to me on what path. As described previously there are loose ends (20-Mar-2016), and as detailed above I feel this course has equipped me with a process to continue explorations. I know I am interested in objects and space. There’s another strand around art movements of the 20th century, both mainstream art history and the fibre arts movement. On the other hand I am not at all interested in working in fashion or furnishings, nor in colour forecasts which seem relevant primarily in those fields. I have learnt and grown so much studying with OCA, and in particular in this course. I enjoy structured learning, partly because I often discover more than I expect in things I thought I wasn’t interested in. But there is only so much time. I’m not sure which way ongoing lies.

    T1-MMT-P5-s7 Reflection – Mixed Media for Textiles
    Textiles 1 – Mixed Media for Textiles
    Part 5: A final piece
    Stage 7: Reflection – Mixed Media for Textiles

    T1-MMT-P4 Mono and collatype printing: Review

    In my review of assignment 3 (12-Oct-2015) I noted the different rhythm of work. Assignment 2 was a buzz of one sample leading quickly to another as ideas kept generating. Assignment 3 had technical constraints, took time to set up, time to see results – but from the beginning I had interesting materials producing more success than failure.

    Printmaking in assignment 4 was different again. There were technical skills to learn, but early results were not exciting. The project exercises felt compartmentalised, the majority of prints were dull. At the end of the Sorting post (2-Jan-2015) I’ve written about dealing with those challenges because I want to take forward and develop the skills gained. By exercise 4 of project 1 the balance changed. There was setup time – masks, stencils, later collatype plates – but once done the flowing, immediate, one attempt leading to another buzz began. The early exercises had provided the basic skills to be able to respond to and develop what I saw happening.

    The Introduction to this part of the course states “you’ll explore printmaking as one stage in the creation of an art piece.”

    Sample p3-33

    Sample p3-33

    Print p4-61 layer 2

    Print p4-61 layer 2

    I used printmaking to examine and record previous samples, taking p3-33 out to the print area as a backdrawing subject. I combined and overlaid perspectives and while the final print is muddled the process offers value. (14-Nov-2015)

    Sample p2-61

    Sample p2-61

    Print p4-75 detail

    Print p4-75 detail

    A jug used in wrapping explorations in assignment 2 became the inspiration source for design development. The jug shape was used as a stencil, and a smudged poorly registered print was one of my more exciting results. (22-Nov-2015)

    Print p4-82

    Print p4-82

    I intended to take that shape further and combine it with work using a fish motif developed from the jug decoration. My design ideas became too complex and I pulled them back, but I think the attempts show the value of printmaking for design development. Once masks and stencils were created they could be used in different combinations and with different printing methods, quickly building up a varied group of potential imagery.(7-Dec-2015)

    Print p4-95b

    Print p4-95b

    Print p4-97 detail 2

    Print p4-97 detail 2

    I have an ongoing desire to integrate work from previous assignments as the prints above demonstrate. Other examples included use of torn paper as a mask (p4-76, 7-Dec-2015) and crumpled paper as the print and display surface (p4-32, 27-Oct-2015). I was also successful in using molding samples from assignment 3 to create texture on the gelatin plate and as the print matrix itself. Polymorph and composimold produced interesting and quite different results.(14-Dec-2015)

    Demonstration of technical and visual skills
    As described above my focus was on using printmaking as a tool rather than traditional, formal printmaking technical skills. There are smudges, there aren’t always borders, I used extremely bulky materials on a collage block (computer components and plaster chunks).

    Print p4-162

    Print p4-162

    Print p4-163

    Print p4-163

    Over the final project I developed processes and technical skills that I believe will prove of great value to me in my ongoing creative work. Using combinations of a gelatin plate and collage blocks I could build complex textures and shapes that allowed me to explore my subject material in different ways, as shown in the banded ironstone formation collage block prints shown above.

    Print p4-160 detail

    Print p4-160 detail

    The newspaper text visible in print p4-160 resulted from my observation and exploration of an unintended effect during work on the previous print. Legible print like this could have huge potential, which I hope to exploit in the future.(31-Dec-2015)

    Print p4-145

    Print p4-145

    My compositional skills continue to develop. For example I find the curving wave and busyness of plant growth in p4-145 balances with the calm horizontals in a satisfying image. (27-Dec-2015)

    Quality of outcome
    This blog continues to be the core of my presentation of all my course work. A contents page provides an easy way to navigate to different sections of work (link, also reached via the menu bar). Images of all prints produced are on a pinterest board (link) and a second board holds research images (link).

    I have been considering presentation of work for assessment. To date my tutor has accepted entirely digital submissions. Postage from and to Australia is expensive, slow and has limitations on dimensions as well as weight. Many samples are too fragile, too heavy or too large to post. Many samples were recorded then dismantled. Most items can’t be mounted for presentation in any sensible way. I don’t want to send an unbalanced selection based on what is easy to post rather than what is of interest, and I don’t want to send a box of jumbled bits and pieces. I need to discuss this with my tutor, but my current thought is either entirely digital, or a very small ruthlessly edited number of samples with associated documentation to supplement this blog.

    Demonstration of creativity

    Sample p3-48 detail

    Sample p3-48 detail

    sample p3-48 after printing

    sample p3-48 after printing

    Print p4-128 view 2

    Print p4-128 view 2

    One creative leap was to treat a plaster cast sample from assignment 3 as a printing block. The process involved transferring ink from a matrix to paper, so I argue that it fits the brief. I find the result quite effective standalone, but I think there is much more potential to create a collection of casts and what could be termed a printed cast.(25-Dec-2015)

    Print p4-140 detail

    Print p4-140 detail

    The Sample-Record-Sort process was embedded within my printmaking exploration and I see this a demonstration of a strong creative practice. When developing my 80 mile beach design I considered using yarns to create foreground foliage texture. I created a sample plate of different yarns and printed it in different ways. Recording results, I identified a number of yarns with potential. Crucially, the process led me to trim and manipulate the chosen yarns to give better scale and shape in the next cycle of work.(27-Dec-2015)

    Context
    As discussed in my Research wrapup post (1-Jan-2016) I found it difficult to embed my research in my sampling work.

    Print p4-150 detail

    Print p4-150 detail

    I took small details – the use of textiles in Sarah Ross-Thompson’s work encouraged me to push further with textile textures, creating sample collatype block 8 which produced a prints with a wonderful level of detail.(30-Dec-2015)

    Print p4-36

    Print p4-36

    I attempted a direct copy of a section of a print by Degas, which was an absorbing process. I learnt a lot about monotype markmaking and saw some details to like in the result.(27-Oct-2015)

    Sketch based on Monet's Poplars on the Epte Click for larger view

    Sketch based on Monet’s Poplars on the Epte
    Click for larger view

    My sketchbook work also faltered during this assignment. My Pinnacles collatype collage block was based on sketches before and during my visit there, augmented by a few drawings developing the design for printing (23-Dec-2015). However I wasn’t able to make sketching part of my research or in recording my own prints. I found it too difficult to draw from a print as part of developing my own prints. On reflection this makes no sense. I made a sketch based on a painting by Monet when developing a design for a series of experiments (3-Nov-2015). Somehow there was an extra level of translation which gave me space to work. Perhaps a more honest answer is that the printmaking itself was two dimensional drawing and markmaking and I resisted doing still more.

    Over the period of this course I have been exposed to a range of printmaking techniques. There was an Experimental Collagraphs workshop with Jet James, using pvc foam board as the print matrix (16-Jul-2015); Breakdown screen printing with Lin Wilson (17-Oct-2015); and a day of lino and foamex with Claire Brach (31-Dec-2015). In this assignment I have focused on some key materials, the akua intaglio inks and liquid pigment with cartridge paper. However I have ventured beyond this. A partial listing is given in an appendix below. I feel confident that printmaking will be an integral part of my creative process in the future.

    Finally, I have returned to the feedback from my tutor for assignment 3. My initial response to that, heavily influenced by the work I was doing when I received it, was posted 8-Nov-2015. I consider I have continued to build on some of the areas identified by Rebecca – returning to and integrating previous parts of the course; although I touched on a range of materials and techniques I have also focused on a core set; I was challenged by the early failures but analysed the situation and found a mindset to support progress; I’ve continued to take sidetracks which I believe have been justified by results. My main causes for concern are varied, relevant research and development of my drawing skills. I will need to prioritise those areas in the weeks to come.

    Following this process of review I feel refocused and excited by the challenges of assignment 5.

    T1-MMT-P4 Mono and collatype printing: Review
    Part 4: Mono and collatype printing
    Review

    Appendix
    A partial list of materials and techniques

    Print surfaces:
    Paper (most dry, some damp): cartridge , newsprint, arches 88, stonehenge, copy paper, rice paper (plain and pattern-cut), sheet music.
    Linen

    Pigment:
    Akua intaglio inks, Akua liquid pigment, water soluble crayons, oil pastels, combined with conte crayons

    Print matrix:
    Etching plastic, garage floor, cast plaster, glass surface, gelatin, pvc foam board, polymorph, composimold (stamped)
    Collage on mountboard – pva, polyfilla, modelling paste

    Print transfer:
    Hand pressure, baren, brayer, small craft press (relief and intaglio), burnishing with wooden clay shaping tools, metal spoons, etc.

    Mask and stencil materials:
    Lace and fabric bits, newsprint, newspaper, bristol board, freezer paper, copy paper, wet media acetate, yupo paper, weeds

    Markmaking and texturing:
    Brushes, fabrics, plastic card (cut as required), tile adhesive spreaders, corrugated cardboard, chopsticks, skewers, sticks, wooden clay shapers, fingers, paper towel, cotton buds, homemade tools from found objects, insect screen, roller, release agent, water, polystyrene, craft foam, materials from previous parts of the course including computer components, plaster chunks, heat distorted plastic and felt, etc.

    T1-MMT-P4 Mono and collatype printing: Sorting

    It’s mostly pleasant and somewhat cathartic to reach this stage of the assignment process. I’ve gone back through all my posts, looked at all my prints, and seen the journey from stumbling first steps to innovation and a level of confidence. An overview of all the prints can seen on pinterest – www.pinterest.com/fibresofbeing/mixed-media-for-textiles-assignment-4/. In Sorting I have identified a number for comment.

    print p4-8

    print p4-8

    Print p4-8 (18-Oct-2015) was an early sign of hope in the challenging first days of this assignment and combines a number of ideas to take forward – uneven colour mixing, energetic lines, repetition of simple elements – lines and swirls. It doesn’t have to be complex to be effective.
    [Project 1 Initial experimentation]
    break

    Print p4-17

    Print p4-17

    I was unhappy with print p4-17 at the time (25-Oct-2015) although it has some interesting marks. I’ve included it in Sorting because it was an attempt to copy directly marks seen in Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione’s Creation of Adam. I tend to take little bits of information from my research, but this print is a reminder of the learning value in direct copying.
    [Project 1 Exercise 1]
    break

    Print p4-22

    Print p4-22

    Print p4-22 (25-Oct-2015) includes lifting colour and texturing with crumpled foil, overlaying colour and creating a line with ink-covered string. I like the dynamic line and the way it extends just over the borders of the plate. The string would be a fast, interesting way to “draw” when recording samples in the future – a different way to see shapes.
    [Project 1 Exercise 1]
    break

    Print p4-29 detail

    Print p4-29 detail

    Print p4-29 (27-Oct-2015) used a lot of stamping and layering as well as marks drawn into the plate. Craft foam can be easily cut to shape and makes a good stamp. Breaking out of the boundary of the plate can be effective. What I most like about this print is the complexity of overlaid textured colour.
    [Project 1 Exercise 1]
    break

    Print p4-32 shaped

    Print p4-32 shaped

    Print p4-32 (27-Oct-2015) was my first attempt to break into three dimensions. It used paper crumpling and shaping learnt in Part 1. The texture created by printing then partially opening the crumples is attractive, but it’s the shaping possibilities that really interest.
    [Project 1 Exercise 1]
    break

    Print p4-34 part unfolded

    Print p4-34 part unfolded

    The move into three dimensions continued with print p4-34 (27-Oct-2015), which used paper folding to create a three colour print. When displayed partly folded the print shows different colours and patterning depending on the angle of viewing.
    [Project 1 Exercise 1]
    break

    Print p4-37

    Print p4-37

    Print p4-37 (3-Nov-2015) is included here not for any particular ideas to take forward but because despite flaws I see it as my first satisfying image. There is depth but it isn’t overly realistic. The colours are limited but effective. A range of mark making techniques were used, and they combine well to create a variety of textures. This is one of three variations of the same design, based on a painting by Monet. The other versions used water soluble crayons and oil pastels and were not successful.
    [Project 1 Exercise 2]
    break

    Print p4-45

    Print p4-45

    Print p4-46 detail

    Print p4-46 detail

    Prints p4-45 and p4-46 (11-Nov-2015) both record a sample from earlier in the course, p2-76. In fact they respond to a sketch based on that sample. I have chosen them for their exuberance, as an example of using printmaking as part of the creation process, and because of the problem-solving shown working towards the energetic lines I wanted.
    [Project 1 Exercise 2]
    break

    Print p4-60

    Print p4-60

    Print p4-60 and its companion p4-61 used layer of backdrawing and ghost printing to examine one of my favourite samples, p3-33. The print evolved from a number of ideas, explained in the original post (14-Nov-2015). As an image it’s a bit of a mess, but it’s a great success in terms of seeing the sample and developing material that could be taken further.
    [Project 1 Exercise 3]
    break

    Print p4-70

    Print p4-70

    Print p4-70 is one of a series of prints using stencils in project 1 exercise 4 (22-Nov-2015). The image is based on a jug used earlier in wrapping exercises. This print shows interesting colour work, mark making using a tool I devised and decent registration. At the time I was encouraged by this as showing my progress. I like the graphic qualities with just the smallest suggestion of depth. The wave lines respond to the water theme of the jug itself. I see this as a good response to the brief.
    [Project 1 Exercise 4]
    break

    Print p4-72 detail

    Print p4-72 detail

    Print p4-72 from the same work session was influenced by my research on Paul Klee. There is a freedom and quirkiness in the line achieved that I like. There is a range of markmaking with various devised tools that works well with the imagery shown. With the mix of colours it is altogether more light hearted than much of my work.
    [Project 1 Exercise 4 – a return to exercise 3]
    break

    Print p4-75

    Print p4-75

    Print p4-75 (also 22-Nov-2015) is the ghost of earlier jug prints. I’ve included it in Sorting because from a printmaking perspective it is poor, but for me as an image and idea starter it is rich. There are interesting lines and textures, a kind of vibration – it isn’t flat. It speaks to my interest in boundaries, in open possibilities and uncertainty.
    [Project 1 Exercise 4]
    break

    Print p4-76 layer 4

    Print p4-76 layer 4

    Print p4-76 (7-Dec-2015) was my first print created using a gelatin plate (thanks to fellow student Lottie for the suggestion). It’s an example of risk – these plates aren’t part of the course. It’s an example of failure – I pushed a step too far in an elaborate plan and “ruined” some very exciting stripes. It’s an example of influence from research – I was thinking of stripes and textile development by Julie Paterson (missed in the blog writeup – see 13-Sep-2015). Plus nice use of masks and an interesting test of new-to-me products and colours.
    [Project 1 Extension with gelatin plate]
    break

    Print p4-77 layer 4

    Print p4-77 layer 4

    Print p4-77 from the same session is the ghost of the previous print and better shows the imagery I was working towards – although even this is simplified compared to the original plan. The design is based on the same jug as the earlier mask. Here it’s interpreted in fish stencils swimming in a stripy sea. More good techniques for developing ideas and quite an attractive result in itself.
    [Project 1 Extension]
    break

    Print p4-81

    Print p4-81

    Print p4-85

    Print p4-85

    I’ve included two more prints from the gelatin plate fish sequence – prints p4-81 and p4-85 (7-Dec-2015). They show the wide range of results that can come from a single idea. In my earlier printmaking attempts I repeated slightly different things trying to make something work. By this stage I repeated to learn something new each time. Perhaps in future design development that will be one of printmaking’s strengths – after a little setup time, a fairly fast way of generating choices and variations.
    [Project 1 Extension]
    break

    Print p4-89

    Print p4-89

    Print p4-89 (13-Dec-2015) uses my first collage block. Keen to bring forward materials from earlier in the course I risked thick, rigid materials such as computer components and plaster chips. This two colour version took hard work to print manually and is deeply embossed. The circuit card top right and insect screen bottom right are standout results with complex colour mixing. I think this is a good example of risk and reward when not following standard guidelines.
    [Project 2 Exercise 1]
    break

    Print p4-97 detail 1

    Print p4-97 detail 1

    I find print p4-97 (14-Dec-2015) thrilling. Part of another series of experiments, it uses composimold and polymorph samples from assignment 3 as stamps lifting colour from the gelatin plate. There is crisp, intricate detail, particularly from the composimold. There is so much potential in these new materials. I can take molds of anything that can stand a bit of heat and print in fine detail. A further experiment would be to mold a shaped surface and see if the mold could be flattened or cut open to use as a stamp. Could a plate be made from composimold then warmed and textured to create a semi-permanent plate? I tried something similar later with polymorph (27-Dec-2015) but didn’t have time to work through teething issues.
    [Project 2 within Exercise 1]
    break

    Print p4-104

    Print p4-104

    Print p4-104 (14-Dec-2015) is unfinished business. I was testing a variety of stencil materials and a particular method of inking, pressing and removing to use multiple colours. As a result I see yupo paper and to a lesser extent wet media acetate as potentially very useful materials. The colour combination didn’t work, but I have ideas for my next attempt.
    [Project 2 within Exercise 1]
    break

    Print p4-109

    Print p4-109

    Print p4-109 (17-Dec-2015) represents a pivotal point in the development of a printing process in which I see huge potential. It took a lot of effort to get a reasonable print on paper from my polyfilla collage block. In p4-109 I rolled colour on the gelatin plate then pressed in and removed the polyfilla block. The print that resulted shows great texture. It’s not as crisp as the earlier example using composimold but in many situations that would be an advantge. Being able to print a plate direct or via the gelatin gives a lot of flexibility and more opportunity for developing variations.
    [Project 2 Exercise 2]
    break

    Print p4-126

    Print p4-126

    My first plate for project 2 exercise 3 didn’t really work as a design, but I’ve included print p4-126 (23-Dec-2015) as a later example of the developing print process. The gelatin plate was rolled with colour. The polyfilla plate was also rolled with colour then pressed into the gelatin, both adding and removing colour. There was some further manipulation then the print taken.
    [Project 2 Exercise 3]
    break

    Print p4-128 view 2

    Print p4-128 view 2

    It seems a logical extension that if I can print from flatish textured plaster then it’s worth trying shaped textured plaster. I chose cast plaster sample p3-48 as my three dimensional printing block. Print p4-128 (25-Dec-2015) was the better of two results. It could be very interesting to create a series of forms, some the original cast, some the printed shapes. I’d like to make a smoother cast and carve into it as a form of markmaking. Or perhaps in an grouping carve into the plaster which is now coloured to reveal the white underneath. An idea for the next assignment perhaps.
    [Project 2 Exercise 3]
    break

    Print p4-137 detail

    Print p4-137 detail

    Print p4-137 (27-Dec-2015) is a chance by-product of yarn texture sampling for the next collage block. I haven’t examined quite what happened to get that effect, perhaps related to the strength of the ink and how the collage plate was pressed into the gelatin. It would be useful to be able to reproduce this, but experimentation is required.
    [Project 2 Exercise 3]
    break

    Print p4-145

    Print p4-145

    Print p4-146

    Print p4-146

    Prints p4-145 and p4-146 (27-Dec-2015) are two versions of a collagraph block inspired by a beach in Western Australia. They are a good example of the printing options developing. Both were printed in two layers, the first being colour rolled and textured on the gelatin plate. Both use the same collatype plate for the second layer. P4-145 was printed direct from the mountboard plate, with lots of hand burnishing. P4-146 was printed via the gelatin plate, with an excess of ink. Quite different results.
    [Project 2 Exercise 3]
    break

    Print p4-150

    Print p4-150

    Print p4-152

    Print p4-152

    Another interesting comparison is provided by p4-150 and p4-152 (30-Dec-2015). The collatype block used was mountboard with modelling paste used as both glue and support for a range of textiles, with acrylic matt medium used as sealant. The idea was that by embedding the texture sources rather than just gluing them on I could get more consistency in the height of the plate and thereby easier printing. P4-150 was printed on my little craft press and shows good texture from fine silk up to coarse hessian sacking. P4-152 was printed using the gelatin plate, rolled with yellow then pressed with the collatype plate which carried residual blue ink from another print. Very different results with different but interesting textures, using the same collatype plate.
    [Project 2 Exercise 3]
    break

    Print p4-160 detail

    Print p4-160 detail

    This detail from print p4-160 (31-Dec-2015) is included because of that faint trace of newspaper classified advertisements. This came from observation of the gelatin plate when excess ink was blotted using an old newspaper. The barely visible text is legible because it has been reversed twice – pressed into the gelatin then printed on paper. Will this work with darker inks? The newspaper was a few years old. Will newer editions work? What an interesting way that would be to integrate current events. Or shapes could be torn from the newspaper, perhaps forming text with text…
    [Project 2 Exercise 3]
    break

    Print p4-162

    Print p4-162

    Print p4-163

    Print p4-163

    Prints p4-162 and p4-163 (31-Dec-2015) are in my opinion the best of a series inspired by banded ironstone formations. P4-162 was a complex affair involving the gelatin plate rolled with colour, textured with heat distorted plastic (from earlier assignments), colour partially lifted using newsprint, modelling paste collagraph plate separately inked, dabbing with two colours, then pressed into the gelatin, and finally a print taken. P4-163 was the result when I cleaned the collagraph plate by putting it through the ezicut press. I like them both.
    [Project 2 Exercise 3]
    break

    That feels like rather a large Sort, but I see them as presenting different areas of interest and it’s actually less than 20% of the prints produced.

    The last item I would like to include is attitudinal rather than a physical print.

    I found the earlier exercises very difficult. I examined some of the reasons for this in my reflection of tutor feedback on assignment 3 (8-Nov-2015). I was finding getting ink on the page very technical, I was stuck in the fundamentals, it was hard to let go of expectations of “good prints”, it was all so two dimensional. In assignment 3 my failures became glorious and there were exciting successes. Suddenly it was all failures.

    Challenging myself, I tried to keep focus on the purpose – printmaking as one stage of creation. I found positives in details, developed and followed up ideas, suspended disbelief. I tried to look at and understand the reasons underlying both negatives and positives, learn from them, and move on.

    Baldly – it worked. Over the weeks, as experience grew, work began to flow and I could be more responsive to what was happening in front of me. I have built up a foundation set of materials, processes and knowledge. The last couple of days while re-reading old posts I keep wanting to jump up and try one of the ideas that fell to the side. Why on earth did I never go back to put colour on the front of the stencil? The happy thing is there’s plenty of time, as printing becomes a standard part of my markmaking, recording and ideas development repertoire.

    Taking risks, responding to failure, feeling vulnerable – recurring themes, but I feel my resilience and eagerness continue to grow.

    T1-MMT-P4 Mono and collatype printing: Sorting
    Part 4: Mono and collatype printing
    Sorting

    T1-MMT-P4 Collatype printing research wrapup

    Sarah Ross-Thompson (www.rossthompsonprints.com/)

    Sarah Ross-Thompson Beachfront

    Sarah Ross-Thompson
    Beachfront

    creates amazing monoprints and collagraphs. Her miniprints particularly interest me because of the effective use of the small size ( 9 x 9 cm). Beachfront (link) and Moondreams (link) show how effective relatively limited colours and textures can be.

    Sarah Ross-Thompson Interlacing

    Sarah Ross-Thompson
    Interlacing

    A standout for me is Interlacing (link). Clearly a lacey knitted fabric and an open weave fabric were used. I wonder if the trees involved stripping back the top layer of board. Ross-Thompson uses glue on plates to create areas that won’t print. The colour is complex, some layered, some clear. I printed the image in its original size on glossy photo paper and continued to find it fascinating. Since first drafting this post a few weeks ago one of the edition of Interlacing has made its way from Scotland to Australia – a first for me, to act on my research.

    Sarah Ross-Thompson Chroma 2

    Sarah Ross-Thompson
    Chroma 2

    Also wonderful are Ross-Thompson’s explorations in colour in her Chroma and Chromascape monoprints. Red and green are seen in all their interatctions in Chroma 2 (link), while Chromascape 13 (link) is enlivened by textile use building energetic positive and negative space.

    Sarah is generous in giving information about her techniques (and permissions – images reproduced with permission of artist). Some links:
    Technique overview: www.rossthompsonprints.com/techniques
    Step by step photographs and explanation of collagraph block building: www.facebook.com/rossthompsonprints/posts/1069627893068427
    Inking up:www.facebook.com/rossthompsonprints/posts/1012272365470647
    Quick and easy registration: www.facebook.com/rossthompsonprints/posts/1075458012485415

    Textiles have been used in a number of Sarah Ross-Thompson’s prints. I’ve already mentioned Interlacing. In Beachfront the foreground fence looks like weaving, adjusted to give the right effect. Seeing these encouraged me to push further with textiles, experimenting in collatype plate 8 (30-Dec-2015) and in the banded ironstone formation prints (31-Dec-2015). I’ve just taken a quick photo of the two prints together and although they are completely different I can see the link.Interlaced and BIF

    Bill Chambers has PDFs on a number of printmaking techniques on his website, http://www.billchambers.org/artists%20notes.html, including intaglio collagraph and monotypes. He describes his Clothing series (http://www.billchambers.org/image%20pages/clothing.html) as “cast collagraph”, and the imagery is highly relevant to a textiles focus. Most of his prints seem to combine different printing processes, so are less relevant to my current research.

    Tyrus Clutter has a video on creating a collatype print at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z2VHD7R6rts, using layering of mountboard, carborundum and other techniques. I find his explanation of his problem-solving through a series of proofs particularly interesting.

    Lynn Bailey‘s video showing collagraph preparation and printing really had me thinking about the materials and tools I had available, and what could work in my own situation. https://vimeo.com/50941703

    I’ve experienced some challenges with research during this part of the course. Previously I’ve recorded and responded to research work in my sketchbook. When I was looking at prints with the purpose of making prints I found it too direct, there felt no space for interpretation for my own purposes. I could look at a painting by Monet, find lines, and make something my own (print p4-37 3-Nov-2015). In terms of bringing printmaking research into my own work, the focus has been on materials and techniques rather than a visual response.

    Another challenge was simply the amount of interesting information available. Limiting the enormous field of printmaking to mono and collatypes still leaves an enormous and very active field. There is so much exciting work going on in printmaking, so many artists willing to share their images and techniques. In each research session I’ve found myself following trails and ideas, getting a broad rather than in-depth view. My material on any one artist has felt too insubstantial to post. Still, this is the end of the assignment and this blog is where I store and can later find information, so here are my scattergun notes.

    Debra Luccio
    Beautiful colour and line in reductive monotypes of dancers. A helpful page with shots showing the rolling and drawing processes. http://www.debraluccio.com/howto/
    In black and white, use of rolling to add extra movement to the image.

    Niels Borch Jensen
    https://vimeo.com/143522628
    Niels Borch Jensen 01:17″you get a distance in the process, you get an unpredictability”

    Nicola Jerome
    https://vimeo.com/118207941
    Nicola Jerome combining monotypes with animation to lovely effect.

    Susan Carney
    https://vimeo.com/114251604
    http://www.susancarney.com/monotypes/
    Susan Carney showing her process. Textured, apparently absorbent plate of sacking, cuts and inks stencils over the background which varies the texture and allows clearer imagery. I wonder if she reuses the plate, with traces of earlier colour on it.

    Reff, T. The technical aspects of Degas’s art
    Reff, Theodore (1971) “Degas: A Master Among Masters.” The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, Metropolitan Museum Journal, v. 4 (1971) [online] Available from http://www.metmuseum.org/research/metpublications/The_Technical_Aspects_of_Degass_Art_The_Metropolitan_Museum_Journal_v_4_1971 (Accessed 20-October-2015)
    Reading about the unconventional, inventive, exploratory approach of Degas to materials and techniques included his use of counterproofs – putting pastel and charcoal drawings through the press onto dampened paper, in part as a means of checking and furthering a composition. ??? writes “variety of represented textures, without abandoning his principle of smooth, flat painting; and, something that was always important and that probably accounts for his predilection for pastels, monotypes, and wax sculpture, he could prolong indefinitely the process of revision, since each phase of the process was undertaken in a different medium.” (p. 150). This approach seems very relevant to my current mixed media for textiles course, including the idea of ongoing revision, of developing an idea by approaching it through different media.
    Also in this paper is an interesting section on the variety of tools and combination of techniques used by Degas in his monotypes (p. 155).

    Michael Mazur
    Layers; attracted by his use of colour; often abstract. “Artists have to be good watchers. They have to watch their work instead of pre-planning it. ” Believed in keeping it simple, spontaneous (so not stencils), no preparatory sketches. Oral history interview with Michael Mazur, 1993 Jan. 12-1995 Feb. 3, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. http://www.aaa.si.edu/collections/interviews/oral-history-interview-michael-mazur-12731

    Vinita Voogd.
    Teaches a “stacked” monotype method (account of a class taught by one of her students http://sticksstonesnpaperstew.com/2013/05/09/starting-the-monotype-process/.) Interesting for registration method for plate.

    Howard Jeffs
    http://www.howardjeffs.co.uk/
    Excited that his work includes Australian landscapes, although some that particularly resonate with me (salt pans near Hyden, which I visited a few years ago and is amazing country) are painted rather than monotypes .

    Simon Ripley
    https://vimeo.com/41523428. A flowing approach developing ideas.

    T1-MMT-P4 Collatype printing research
    Textiles 1 – Mixed Media for Textiles
    Part 4: Mono and collatype printing
    Research wrapup

    Collatype collage prints – 80 mile beach part 2

    Background on development work for this series was given in the previous post (27-Dec-2015).

    Print p4-141
    I rubbed intaglio ink into the textured surface of the collagraph plate using a toothbrush – a tool seen used by Lynn Bailey, demonstrating preparing and using a collagraph plate in a Double Elephant Print Workshop video (https://vimeo.com/50941703). I wiped ink off around the silhouette areas.

    The print was taken on copy paper using a brayer followed by a selection of wooden clay-shaping tools.

    Print p4-141

    Print p4-141

    As I’m not printing intaglio (little make-do press with lots of plastic parts isn’t really up to it) the choice of inking method didn’t make sense. There are messy, blobby spots of ink. Most of the deep texture didn’t print. I thought it worth trying lighter paper to see how it behaved, but I think that made the blotching worse, due to limited absorption. Heavier, damp paper would be worth trying.

    Print p4-142
    A red-brown mix of intaglio ink was scrubbed in with a toothbrush, then wiped away with some polyester organza and phone-book paper. I then dabbed on a green mix of liquid pigment. The plate was printed onto dry cartridge paper using the ezicut press.

    This was an attempt to approach intaglio printing of the deep texture in the darker brown, with relief printing of high levels with the green.

    Print p4-142

    Print p4-142

    Print p4-142 detail

    Print p4-142 detail

    The method was a hybrid mix of wrong equipment and materials. The toothbrushed colour blotched badly and there’s not enough colour on the silhouette.

    However there is promise. The lines of hillocks are partly visible, giving some form. These were made with yarn 6 (trimmed) from the earlier sampler. This yarn is also the source of the tendrils of growth seen along the top edge of the sand dune. I’m also pleased with the v shaping of some of the spikes – the trimmed yarn 10 and a good representation of some of the distinctive vegetation in the source photograph. Finally on both the prints so far there is a nice curve down the slope from the left that curls back on itself in the spikes of grasses on the right.

    Print p4-143
    The mountboard plate was dabbed with a mix of akua intaglio ink. It was then pressed into the gelatin plate. The print of the gelatin was onto cartridge paper, pressed by hand.

    Print p4-143

    Print p4-143

    A lot of rich, messy texture can be seen on the image. I think it effectively suggests the growth on the sand dune. There are still blotches of ink, but they are part of the whole and integrate well. There is a halo of colour around the silhouette spikes, particularly the lower area to the left. This might be quite acceptable, depending on the interaction over a background print.

    Print p4-144
    I felt the printing was good enough to combine with a lower layer. Without re-inking I pressed the mountboard plate onto the cleaned gelatin plate. The print was taken on copy paper which I wanted to use to create a guide for the base monoprint.

    Print p4-144

    Print p4-144

    This print is successful. There is less ink, but the lines defining the dune hillocks on the right work well to give form. To me the effect suggests a dune where vegetation is just beginning to anchor the sand. There is a nice variety of texture, while remaining cohesive.

    I scanned the image, removed white areas to get just the printed shapes, and used it as an overlay of the original photo – itself adjusted to change the view orientation slightly. I was then able to define broad areas for the background layer.

    80 mile beach print-photo combination

    80 mile beach print-photo combination

    80 mile layout

    80 mile layout

    A printed copy of the overlay lines was placed under the glass of my printing area. It could still be seen with the gelatin plate on top, even when inking up. A printout of the combined photo-print-lines was pegged on the drying line above the printing table, for reference while working.

    Print p4-145
    Using the guides described above I created a monotype background print on the gelatin plate.

    Phthalo blue liquid pigment was rolled across the top for sky and sea. A piece of newsprint, torn edge towards the top, cut edge down, was used to lift colour to create a light band of colour in the sky and a distinct horizon. A length of crushed synthetic satin ribbon was rolled with more phthalo and gently pressed on the sea to create texture and movement. This was the same ribbon that was used in the polymorph experiments in the previous post and the texture created, particularly in p4-130 (27-Dec-2015),seemed appropriate. A piece of jute twine was stretched across and just above the plate, then pressed in short areas to create a break line of waves.

    A soft, indistinct shoreline where the waves advance and recede was created by wiping with a paper towel. Beach and dune sand was rolled and dabbed with mixes of diarylide yellow, burnt umbre, and red oxide. The print was taken on cartridge paper using hand pressure.

    Print p4-145 in progress

    Print p4-145 in progress

    There is obviously a technical problem with the many small white patches, most obviously in the sky. Ignoring that I was very pleased with the result from my mix of techniques.

    One beginner mistake was not thinking about the reversing of the image. I wanted to print the mountboard plate via the gelatin plate, as in print p4-144. The higher dune should have been on the right. I could still print the foreground layer, but it would have to be direct from the mountboard plate.

    I dabbed ink onto the mountboard. The print was burnished using the wooden tools and with as much pressure and intensity as I could.

    Print p4-145

    Print p4-145

    The registration of dune shapes between layers isn’t quite right. The top layer is patchy, I’ve already pointed to flaws in the background.

    Despite this I find this a very satisfying image. My eye flows around it and there is interest and detail everywhere. There is a balance my mind accepts between realism and abstraction. It is a decent way towards the idea in my head when I started.

    Print p4-146
    In this print I attempted to address errors in the last one.

    The basic sequence for inking the monotype was the same. I tried to clean the gelatin thoroughly before starting. I reversed the image. I improved the line of the sand dune. The print was onto cartridge paper using hand pressure.

    I dabbed colour onto the mountboard, pressed it into the re-cleaned gelatin plate and pressed by hand.

    Print p4-146

    Print p4-146

    Flecks are reduced, but still apparent. I have been cleaning using paper towels and I think they may be shedding a little. Also some divots are appearing in the gelatin itself, possibly because of repeated pressing with rough plaster and glued plates. It’s a straight forward process to melt and re-set the gelatin, so I may do that soon.

    Although I followed the same basic steps the monotype is weaker. The colours are less rich, the horizon line is flawed, the break line of the waves is too consistent across the image.

    The sand dune is now overwhelmed by luxuriant, rather blurry, vegetation. Looking back at the difference between p4-143 and p4-144, it may be better to do a sacrificial print first and use the ghost as the main print when using this process.

    The open area top left is not quite enough to balance the block of colour bottom right. The dune needs more variation, to be broken up. The structural lines have been absorbed.

    I would have liked to try this more times, playing a little with colours and density. Some purple in the undergrowth would suggest the shadows of a long, hot afternoon. I’d like pink sand and green sky. However most of the problems in p4-146 were due to fatigue and rush. I will have to wait for another opportunity.

    T1-MMT-P4-p2-e3 Collatype collage prints – 80 mile beach part 2
    Part 4: Mono and collatype printing
    Project 2: Collatype printing
    Exercise 3: Collatype collage prints
    Collatype collage prints – 80 mile beach part 2

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