Category Archives: Part 4

Developing printmaking samples for an exhibition

14 May 2017


The Print and Stitch Group Exhibition – developing my printed samples from Part 4


I belong to a group of printmakers and textile practitioners called The Print and Stitch Group, which was founded in July 2015. We have been working towards our first exhibition in September 2017, on the subject of “Identity”. I used my sampling with fabric stencils which I produced for Project 1 exercise 4, and developed the figure prints in conjunction with techniques of back drawing, mark-making (reductive process) and drawing onto the plate.

The prints for the exhibition are shown below:

 

The first print (above) is a rework of Project 1, exercise 4, sample 4a. First I made a print of the negative space with a burlap stencil, which also gave me the embossing in the white (masked) area. When dry, I used back drawing techniques (project 1, exercise 3, samples 3), to fill in the detail of the figure.

This second print (above) also uses the back drawing technique, this time applied over a ghost print of the stencil plate used in the first print.

The print above is taken from the one of the plates which I used for back drawing. I have used reductive technique (Project 1, exercise 1, mark-making), to remove additional ink from the background areas before printing. The results are similar to project 1, exercise 4, sample 4d, except I have managed to achieve a better transfer of the burlap fabric texture, and I have also been more consistent with my mark-making within the negative space.

This final print (above) was produced by first taking a ghost print from the inked fabric stencil (see project 1, exercise 4, sample 4c before back drawing was added). In a second stage, I then used a paper stencil to mask off and print the negative image. Finally, I used Akua liquid pigment and a needle nib to draw the figure’s outline and clothing onto an acetate sheet, which I printed from using the direct drawing method (project 1, exercise 2, sample 6).

I am really pleased with the way in which I have been able to combine the texture of the burlap into all of these prints in different ways. The common shape, colour and texture of the fabric provides unity to the set, whilst the different methods of printing and line generation provides variety and interest.

I have entitled this series “Covert figure”. In keeping with the theme of the exhibition, I wanted to portray these images in a way which left their identity open to interpretation by the viewer. The way in which the image is framed top and bottom, suggests that the figure is perhaps lurking in a recess, window or balcony. Who they are and why they are waiting is the question which is presented. Their identity is almost hidden; we know the figure is female and have an idea what clothing she is wearing, however there is little else to give us a clue as to her purpose. I hope that this adds a sense of mystery and intrigue to my prints. 

 

I have also produced a second series of mono prints, based on the techniques in project 1, exercise 3, samples 3 (back drawing), in which I used first prints and the ghost prints for background texture before adding detail by drawing into the prints with charcoal.

These three prints (above) were made by drawing into mono prints which were initially very similar to sample 3a from Project 1, exercise 3.

I also took ghost prints from the plates (similar to sample 3b of project 1, exercise 3), and once again draw into these with charcoal to add detail (see below):

I have entitled the series “Blue” (being the name of the model). Although I feel taht there are is some suggestion of domesticity and female vulnerability in the prints, I wanted to keep the title neutral so that the viewer could make their own interpretations of the possible identity and roles of the subject.

In contrast with the “Covert figure” series (A4), these prints are A3 size and are more dramatic and imposing. By incorporating the charcoal over drawing, they have become very distinctive of my artistic style, whilst still retaining some of the subtlety of line from the original printing stage. The printing helps to soften the images, add texture and a feeling of depth and shadow.

The Print and Stitch Group’s exhibition runs 14-20 September 2017 at Aldeburgh Gallery, Suffolk IP15 5AN.

 

Assignment 4 – Reflective commentary

11 May 2017

 

Measurement against assessment criteria

I used the assessment criteria as the benchmark against which to make my critique. I also referred to the course aims and outcomes on page 5 of the notes.

 

Demonstration of technical and visual skills

Before starting the assignment, I had only limited experience of mono printing and no experience of collatype. Consequently, I found project 2 more technically challenging than project 1. 

I was careful to limit the number of samples I made for this assignment, so as not to overstretch myself. This made time management easier, and when it came to writing up and analysing my results, I feel that I had achieved a good balance between practical work and analysis.

Initially, I had to overcome technical challenges of finding the right thickness of printing plate to run properly through the press and to understand how to prevent smudging with Akua liquid pigment. Through trial and error, I learnt how much ink to apply, how tacky the ink needs to be, and the correct pressure. These skills can only be acquired empirically, and as result of the exercises, I feel that I have a firm grounding on which to build knowledge and experience.

As well as techniques, the assessment criteria mentions observational skills, visual awareness, design and composition (course notes, page 11). I was pleased that I was able to begin the process of resolving quite a few of my samples, in particular, in the latter states of project 1 and in exercise 3 of project 2. I was sufficiently confident to start combining techniques and to develop multi-stage/layer prints. This proved especially fruitful, and I feel that I have a secure understanding of how to take the methods forward and use them in future in new and different ways. In the collagraph portrait and seascape prints of project 2, exercise 3, I was able to use design and compositional skills to produce balanced and visually interesting prints. 

  

Outcome

In addition to quality of visual output, outcome is also concerned with the application of knowledge, presentation of work in a coherent manner, the conceptualisation of thoughts and the communication of ideas (course notes, page 11). 

More so than in any of the assignments so far, I feel that my sampling produced pieces which were either more fully resolved, or I could see the direction that they needed to be taken/developed. Sometimes I feel that my sampling produces lots of distinct, disjoint elements without obvious connection or application, but in this assignment, the read across between techniques was clear and straightforward.

My tutor raised a question about a dissonance between my use of colour to represent the samples in my Part 3 sketchbook. I am now confident that I understand the problems and the reasons why certain combinations did not work. I have explained this in a blog post and I do not believe it to be an issue, either in Part 4 or going forward.

 

Demonstration of creativity

This criterion looks for experimentation, invention and development of a personal voice (course notes, page 11).

I found it very easy to generate ideas for this assignment. Perhaps it’s because I have a natural affinity with printmaking? I feel that the loose and expressive style of mark-making fits my creative style, whilst allowing me to exploit my drawing skills.

I have been experimental, but not as much as I would have liked. I had to spend a lot of time understanding ink behaviour, so limited most of my printing to plain paper. More experimental backgrounds I tried included envelope paper, brown paper, paper bag, Japanese paper and cotton muslin. I feel that I had only scraped the tip of the iceberg in this respect and I would desperately like to expand and experiment further.

The ‘sorting’ stage was much more straightforward this time round because the direction in which I need to take/develop samples was clearer. It was also easier to pick out samples with the most potential, because techniques like back drawing, reductive mark making and stencilling are very much in tune with my creative voice/style, so I was naturally drawn to these samples. I am beginning to make mental links between the assignments of this module, especially between printmaking, and surface distortion, joining and wrapping. There are lots of exciting avenues which could be explored in my final project.
 

Context

I have continued with the format of my previous two assignments; completing a detailed piece of research into several artists relevant to the assignment in a dedicated blog post. I have taken on board my tutor’s comment from part 3 and tried to more closely relate each artist’s work to my own practice. I have particularly considered techniques, style and composition, and the emotional response prompted by the use of colour and tone. Although my style of contextual research is quite formal, it is a process which allows me to mentally rationalise and sift the information, and to present it is a format which I can easily a quickly return to and refresh my memory.

The difficulty with presenting research in a separate post (with a password, so as not to breach copyright), is that it is not presented next to the project work/samples to which it relates. I have tried to redress this by mentioning relevant work/practitioners in my write up for stages 2 (sample-making) and 3 (recording outcomes). 

When commenting on the merits of my sampling, I have been especially careful to explain exactly why I find a piece appealing (or otherwise). I have also taken on board my tutor’s comment about recording the emotional response to each piece as well as the technical merits.

 

Part 4, Stage 4 – Sorting

10 May 2017


Part 4, Stage 4 – Sorting

Project 1 – Mono printing

Project 1 consisted of four exercises: 

  1. Mark-making (reductive, removing ink selectively from the plate) 
  2. Drawing onto the plate (additive, painting or applying ink directly onto the plate)
  3. Back drawing (using pressure to transfer a mark from an inked plate onto a piece of paper laid on top of it)
  4. Working with stencils (using simple masks to create printed shapes)
In the initial two exercises, I found that I was concentrating on learning about the behaviour of the ink and paper/fabric, rather than focusing on the images which I was producing. As I progressed to exercises 3 and 4, I felt more confident and was also able to combine techniques effectively.
 
From exercise 1, the only image which I felt was successful as a stand alone print was sample 7a (below). This was a sample which I made after completing exercise 3. 
 
Seascape_reductive.jpg
 
Exercise 3 produced another successful image using reductive technique (exercise 3, sample 4d below). This was made by reworking an inked plate that I’d used for back drawing on exercise 3, sample 4c. I am very fond of this image because it is dramatic and suggests lighting and shadow around the character. I’m sure that with more practise, I would be able to refine my marks and make them more controlled and subtle.
 
Reductive.jpg
 
Exercise 2 produced lovely simple drawn outline prints, of which my favourite is sample 7b (below). Despite it’s simplicity, the lines in the print are characterful and have a spontaneous, playful feel.
 
Character_lines.jpg
 
Also, there was the very detailed still life (exercise 2, sample 5a, below) which I consider to be a technical success due to it’s boldness, vibrancy and the way which a variety of marks have been controlled. As an image I don’t have immediate plans for how it could be developed, although I can imagine using the techniques on other projects in conjunction with perhaps with backdrawing or stitching.
 
Monoprint1_fruit.jpg
 
I had to spend a lot of time experimenting before producing bold, readable prints for exercise 3 (back drawing), many of the prints were being too feint to give meaningful images. Although I consider sample 3a (below) a technical success, for me it felt as if the print still lacked interest and character. Perhaps it was because I’d traced the image, and my mark-making needs to be more fluid and spontaneous? This characteristic is one of the reasons why Tracey Emin’s mono prints are so successful (see for example her Royal Academy bird print) (Eastaugh, 2017a)
 
First_ok_print.jpg
 
I successfully re-worked a couple of my back drawing “failures” (exercise 3, samples 1 and 2b), which contributed background depth and texture to my stencil prints (see exercise 4, samples 1 below by way of example):
 
Finished_print.jpg
 
Exercise 4 (working with stencils), was the most exciting exercise for me. This was because of the success which I had experimenting with textile samples and the exciting images I produced by combining them with back drawing techniques (see exercise 4, samples 4a and 4c below):
 
Backdrawn_over.jpg Sample_4c.jpg
I can imagine that I could develop these samples further to produce a series, perhaps combining them with a joining method, using cutting to enhance negative space (for example around the crooked arm), or by using areas of translucent material in conjunction with the prints. I could also look at introducing a second colour into image 4a (for example gold or red, as developed in my sketchbook pages 47 and 49-50).
 
Although I also made some lovely prints with plant stencils, I feel that I would need work on my composition and colour to improve on the images which I produced – by comparison see the plant stencil collage by Mary Margaret Briggs, which is much more striking, modern and appealing, and which would make an excellent cushion cover or wallpaper design (Eastaugh, 2017b). Artists like Brenda Hartill use plant stencils within her collagraphs (Eastaugh, 2017c), so this is an alternative way in which I might consider using plant material/stencils in future.
 

Project 2 – Collatype printing

Although there were three exercises in project 2, the first 2 were concerned with producing sample boards from collage and textured polyfiller, to gain knowledge and experience. From the first two exercises, I particularly liked the beautiful prints which I achieved in sample 3 (extracts from which are shown below). I’m sure I could develop these into transitioned textured surfaces, perhaps incorporating stitch and/or textile manipulation.

Cotton_bud.jpgTwig.jpgBottle.jpg

Technically, I found project 2 much more challenging than project 1 and consequently, I do not feel that many of my outcomes from exercise 3 were generally as successful as stand alone pieces. The exception being sample 2a (see below):

Fabric1.jpg

Although I felt that the outcome could have been better balanced, I would also consider developing exercise sample 3c (below), because I feel that the combination of collagraph texture and back drawn line were starting to work. I can see that with a bit more experimentation, this sample has the potential to become very engaging.

Sample3c.jpg

 

Summary:

Thinking about which techniques I would develop further from project 1, it would have to be mark-making (reductive process) and stencilling in conjunction with back drawing and extending and exploring the use of fabric stencils. In particular, I can see a lot of scope within both these processes to develop my figure prints. I would use the samples below as a starting point for refinement and development.

Reductive.jpgBackdrawn_over.jpgSample_4c.jpg

From Project 2, I would like to specifically extend my knowledge of printing with collage materials (including plants) and polyfiller textures. The beautiful outcome from exercise 2, sample 3 suggests that there is much more unexplored potential. This knowledge would help me to develop sample 3c from exercise 3 (below left) and to improve landscape prints such as sample 2a (below right).

Sample3c.jpgFabric1.jpg

  

References:

Eastaugh, N. (2017a) Tracey Emin RA Bird print. [Pinterest pin] At:http://pin.it/GefagN3 (Accessed 10 May 2017)

Eastaugh, N. (2017b) Monotype collage, Mary Margaret Briggs. [Pinterest pin] At:http://pin.it/UVvtj95 (Accessed 10 May 2017)

Eastaugh, N. (2017c) Brenda Hartill. [Pinterest pin] At:http://pin.it/KK89Dh_  (Accessed 10 May 2017)

Part 4, Stages 2&3, Project 2, Exercise 3 – Collatype collage prints

1 May 2017


Part 4, Stages 2&3, Project 2, Exercise 3 – Collatype collage prints

The course notes stated that should produce 4 collatypes using the techniques I had learnt from Project 2, exercises 1 and 2. They also suggested that I should complete the first print before going on to make the other three.

I thought about making separate collage blocks and taking multiple overlaid prints using a registration system. However, this seemed too complex and time consuming, bearing in mind that I still needed to experiment and understand how the relief surfaces would translate to print. Consequently, I made the decision to concentrate on images which could be made with a single collage block.

 

A postscript from exercises 1 and 2

It was a week since I had taken prints for exercises 1 and 2 using Akua intaglio inks, and some of the prints had still not dried, leaving a wet sticky pool of ink which still transferred onto my fingers when handled. Not surprisingly, sample 2 from exercise 2 was one of these. In addition to the ink not drying, it had visibly separated, so that the “oily” constituent formed a ring around the edge of the pigmented area (see below).

Other samples which stayed wet were those printed onto Japanese tissue (exercise 1, sample and exercise 2, sample 4). I ideally I would have repeated exercises 1 and 2 with other types/brands of ink – maybe fabric paints, acrylics or an oil-based printing ink. Unfortunately I didn’t have time. I decided to continue with the Akua intaglio because I had a good understanding of it’s viscosity, how to manipulate it and how it behaves when printing on different materials. This meant that I had to made the decision not use the Japanese tissue for this exercise. I suspected that one of the reasons why the ink hadn’t dried with the Japanese paper was because of it’s fibre content (Akua intaglio was designed to dry when it reacts with paper which is a wood pulp). I used what I had learnt about the Akua ink to select rice paper as an alternative which I thought might work (being thin, but strong and absorbent with no fabric content).

 

SAMPLE 1: Scallop semi-abstract

I decided to start with my interpretation of Maggi Hambling’s sculpture “The Scallop” (2003) (Getty images, 2014) (see sketchbook pages 22-26). I chose this because I thought it would make a good semi abstract print, and would be reasonably straightforward to simplify for a collatype.

I selected a pencil sketch in which I had used line to suggest density of light and infer contour:

It reminded me of some of Georgia O’Keeffe’s flower paintings (Phaidon, n.d.) , and I thought that simplifying the image might allow for the possibility of multiple readings.

I started by tracing and simplifying the outline, but I found that this exercise was more difficult than I was expecting:

My initial drawing had been tonal, but this was an outline. Compared with this original, the simplification seemed flat and 2D. I also had to “close” the edges of the shape – something which I had not done in my initial sketch because I had focused on an area of detail and the sculpture extended beyond my field of view (the paper). I thought that I might be able to address this with inking (by inking very lightly around the edges and not pressing firmly, so that the transfer of ink was bold in the middle of the collatype and soft and tonal around the edges).

I was obviously not going to be able to replicate all the detail, so I referred back to my samples from exercises 1 and 2 to think about how I might represent the shell texture and regions of different tone.

To cut out each section and glue it onto mount board backing would have been very difficult, because the shapes were so thin and narrow, and difficult to cut out precisely. I decided to apply fruit netting a large shape, with smaller areas of corduroy stuck on top. I chose the cord because of the naturally stripy appearance which I felt would emulate the surface ridges of a shell. 

I also used a small amount of the candlewick fabric to represent a ridge and used twigs to suggest outlines and surface contours. There were practical difficulties in sticking down the twigs with pva glue (they kept springing away from the surface), and waiting for the block to dry was time consuming.

The photo above shows the finished print block.

At this stage it didn’t seem very appealing. It was difficult to imagine the textures as distinct from the colours which were rather distracting. I wondered also if by layering my relief surfaces, the fruit net would give a print which was too faint, and visa versa, that the solid print lines from the twigs might be too bold. The only way to find out (and learn form the process) was to take a print!

The next day, once the block was dry, I inked it using Akua intaglio ink, applied with a brush. I tried to vary the colours to get a transition of related blue/green/greys across the shell surface. The inked plate is shown below:

 

The first print was made onto cotton muslin and is shown below (sample 1a):

 

I used my fingers to work the fabric into the relief surface. 

I am really pleased with the transfer of ink and particularly with the patterning from the cord fabric and fruit net. I am slightly disappointed that the colour variation was not more obvious (I feel that this image needs more contrast to add drama).

 

My second print was made onto rice paper without re-inking (sample 1b):

 

This is a bolder print which shows embossing from the relief (a really interesting textural addition). Of the two prints, however, I prefer the print onto fabric, which being softer, seems more dynamic. The white background of the paper print in particular, feels very stark and harsh. I would have preferred the image if it had been printed onto a coloured surface.

I mentioned when discussing my choice of image that I hoped that this design would have multiple readings and I think that it could be successfully interpreted as either a flower, shell or abstract. I have displayed the paper print “upside down” as I think it reads better as a flower that way around. It is quite orchid-like in shape and texture and the twig impressions could be interpreted as stamens.

 

SAMPLE 2: View from Aldeburgh beach to Sizewell – polyfiller and stencil

The sketchbook work on page 14 (see below) seemed perfectly suited to simple textural monoprint using a polyfiller block, masked by stencils.

However, if I used an un-inked paper stencil to represent the dark areas in my collage, then they would have appeared white/negative spaces on my print. Instead, I decided to use “funky foam” as the stencil and to ink it too – in effect making an almost plain print block. 

First, I started by tracing the outline of the collage onto a piece of mount board and I then made up some general purpose DIY powder filler to the consistency I wanted (the same brand that I had used in exercise 2). I spread the filler onto the areas where I wanted texture and marked into them with a stick (sea), the end of implements (shingle) and the edge or a ruler (tree-line and buildings).

 

I then cut shapes for the negative space in “funky foam” and applied these to the board whilst the polyfiller was still wet (so it acted as an adhesive). The completed board is shown below:

I waited until the next day for the print block to dry before inking the plate ready for printing (see below):

I used a paint brush to apply different colours of ink to the areas of polyfiller, then I used a roller to ink the sky and main beach areas (which were foam). Where I used the paint brush, I thinned the ink slightly by adding a few drops of Akua blender medium. 

I had reservations that the foam might be too thick compared to the height of the polyfiller relief and I felt that there was a strong risk that only marks from the foam areas would transfer. In the event, I needn’t have worried. 

The first print which I pulled from this plate was taken using cotton muslin (sample 2a). I pressed and worked the fabric into the plate using my fingers.

I am delighted with the detail, textural qualities and softness of this print. I also like the way that some of the ink from the polyfiller areas has transferred to the foam. It helps to soften the image, making it warmer and more inviting. I like the way that the print is broken and diffuse in the foam areas rather than forming a solid block of colour. I could not have hoped for a better result.

However I made one big mistake: I forgot to reverse the image on the print block! It doesn’t matter for this sample, but anybody who knows the scene would instantly realise that the view is back to front – a valuable lesson for the future.

The only other change which I might consider is to dye the background fabric first. However, I like the white areas showing though the sky which resemble clouds. An alternative might be to lay the fabric over another coloured surface. One of the aspects of using muslin which I like is that it is semi transparent and this is an opportunity where this feature could be exploited.

I feel that the image is sufficiently detailed for it to merit being a stand-along piece, but it could also be embellished further with stitching, if desired.

 

The second print I pulled from the block was using rice paper and was made without re-inking the plate (sample 2b):

Despite being a ghost print this image is brighter and more definite than the print onto fabric. Unlike the fabric print, there is some embossing from the relief surface. I love this print also, for it’s slightly different qualities, although if I had to choose a favourite it would be the slightly more subtle print onto cotton muslin. This is more an issue of personal preference.

 

SAMPLE 3: Left-handed portrait

The idea for using this image was inspired by the oil transfer (back drawings) of Paul Klee, which often have similar naive drawings as their subject. 

Left_hand.jpg

This sketch was derived from a left handed and blind drawing which I made as a warm up exercise for a portraiture class (also see sketchbook pages 51-52). Although the facial features are “symbols” and somewhat juvenile in style, I liked the freedom and spontaneity and the way that the face doesn’t quite fit together correctly, with overlapping eyes and eyebrows. It struck me as an image which would be suitable for translating into collage, so a collatype seemed a logical extension.

The image exhibits a distorted shape, with the jaw appearing large and the head receding to a small point. This is upside down to the shape which you would expect a face to be and is suggests that we are looking up at the subject from below (perhaps he/she is standing and the viewer is seated?) It adds an heir of haughtiness to the portrait as if he/she sees themselves as superior and is looking down on the viewer.

I was attracted to the use of large but subtle areas of colour to denote shading in the textile portraits of Emily Jo Gibbs, such as Slaley (2014) (Gibbs, 2017a) and Why don’t you? (2014) (Gibbs, 2017b). I incorporated these ideas into my collage printing block by using the crocheted bathmat fabric from my experiments in exercise 1 (see below):

I was intentionally not too precise about where I placed the textured materials. My intention was to do a back drawing on top of the collatype print and to use the initial print to provide depth and interest to the outline.

The next day, when the glue was dry, I inked the plate using Akua intaglio ink. I chose not to ink the background on this occasion.

For my first print (sample 3a), I used a piece of rice paper which I had previously patterned with Derwent Inktense sticks, followed by a wash of water, then allowed to dry (see below):

I was surprised just how well the paper held together when wet, however, eventually I kept working too much and produced a small hole/tear. I have learned to love such such impurities, so I used the paper regardless.

Because the background paper was quite bright and patterned, I chose muted tones for my collatype print; dark olive green, muddy pink-tinged grey for the face and sand colour for the hair. 

Once the print was dry, I used back drawing technique to add the outline of the face. I used a graphite pencil to transfer the marks because I wanted a thick, bold line. Registration was easy, because the paint from the collatype print was visible on the reverse side of the rice paper. I used a soft pink-brown ink for the back drawing, because I didn’t want it to appear too dominant nor to jar against the background colours.

The finished print is shown below:

It is an interesting print, full of character. The collar and shirt textures are crisp, but the hair is rather pale and is lost somewhat in the background. The plastic netting which I used for the hair was a new type which I hadn’t tried before and it gave a print which was too subtle. I like the contrast between the bright pink and olive green colours in the lower half of the print. Had the upper half had a similar contract then I think the print would have been very attention-grabbing. In the event, I feel that there is not enough interest in the upper half of the image.

I also took the opportunity to pull a ghost print from the back drawn plate (sample 3b) (see below):

 

The print has transferred well, being crisp and bold. The rice paper is sufficiently strong that it could be worked into with stitch, manipulated or printed over again to add extra detail.

 

The for the second collatype print (sample 3c), I used plain white rice paper. This time I re-inked the plate using different colours (see below):

I wanted to use a brighter flesh tone and more lively collar colour, as I didn’t have any interest coming from the background paper (plain white). When the collatype was dry, I inked a plate with Payne’s grey Akua intaglio ink for my back drawing. I used the same method as sample 3a). The finished print is shown below:

I feel that this image is more successful than sample 3a. I think that it is easier to “read” the portrait, and also that there is better balance of tone and hue between the collatype print and the back drawing. I like the skin and clothes texture from the collatype, but feel that the hair would have been better had I used a different material. 

This sample shows that despite not leaning my hand at all on the paper during back-drawing, quite a lot of the Payne’s grey ink has transferred to the background. It works well in this image, but in sample 3a), where there is more background pattern, it makes the portrait appear rather confused.

Once again, I took the opportunity to pull a print from the back drawn plate (sample 3d):

This is also an attractive image which could be further developed in similar ways to sample 3b).

 

When I look at these portrait prints I get a feeling of curiosity and intrigue. I think the prints are characterful, and although not as well balanced I would like, still received favourable responses from fellow OCA students and artists when uploaded to Facebook for comment. One respondent commented that she liked the image because it was “organic, loose and expressive with a narrative too”  (Eastaugh, 2017).

 

SAMPLE 4: Field near Bradfield wood

I returned to this simple image which I had used for the in project 1, exercise 2, samples 1-3 (drawing onto the plate).

Field_in_suffolk.jpg

I decided to work this image completely in polyfiller. It has similarities with the image in sample 2, and I wanted to use it as an opportunity to be responsive and reactive to the medium as I worked. 

Using a palette knife, I spread filler over the whole of the board. I worked into the field area intuitively, using sticks, edges and the palette knife itself. Working across the sky, I spread the filler thinly and drew it across to form bare patches. I used a sponge to achieve foliage textures along the tree line. The process was very enjoyable and completely absorbing, almost like applying impasto paint.

 

From the photograph of the textured board it is already possible to make out the main sections of the image. To the right, I intentionally distorted the perspective by bending the skyline, inspired by the work “Salthouse IV” by Laurie Rudling (Rudling, n.d.) I wanted to give the impression of looking through a curved lens, and by doing so to make the image more intimate.

I first inked the plate with Akua intaglio ink, using a roller, decorators’ paint brush and cotton buds for the fine detail (see below):

The first print which I took was onto white cotton muslin (sample 4a):

 

I was initially very disappointed, because I felt that there was too much white background showing. The funky foam which I had used in sample 2 had allowed me to make a very precise and detailed image, and I felt that by comparison, this print was much too loose and lacked detail. However, as this print has dried, I have given some thought to the fact that it does not have to be viewed as a “finished” and “stand alone” piece. The white areas provide the perfect opportunity for infilling with stitching to add another later of texture. Seed stitching could be used, for example to define the undergrowth along the tree line and the rooftops. All of a sudden I could see potential in this print.

 

Ideally I would have like to dye some cloth brown and use that as a background. Because I didn’t have time, I used a piece of black cotton muslin which I was able to buy. I re-inked the plate, including more white ink, which I hoped might suggest snow laying in the furrows and clouds in the sky (see sample 3b below):

I was disappointed that not much detail transferred and I find the white areas too crude and heavy-handed. Stitching into this image, might also be an option to develop it (in a similar way to that I have suggested in sample 4a), however, the detail of field texture has not transferred well on this print and the quality probably doesn’t merit further development.

 

As there was still plenty of ink on the board, I took a final print using rice paper (sample 4c below):

This is a more detailed print than sample 4a, and I like the lines in the sky and foliage texture centre left. The textures transferred much better on paper this time than fabric. I still feel that this image is too white, so I would need to use an ink wash on the field or, maybe do a two stage print where I used a stencil to lay a background colour on the field and tree-line first.

 

References:

Eastaugh, N. (2017) This is what I’ve been up to for the past 2 days – experimental printmaking. 4 May 2017. At: https://www.facebook.com/nicky.eastaugh/posts/10211358845264921 (Accessed 10 May 2017)

Getty images (2014) Scallop sculpture by artist Maggi Hambling, on shingle beach at Aldeburgh, Suffolk, England. At: http://www.getty-images.com/detail/news-photo/scallop-sculpture-by-artist-maggi-hambling-on-shingle-beach-news-photo/558237539?#scallop-sculpture-by-artist-maggi-hambling-on-shingle-beach-at-picture-id558237539 (Accessed 2 May 2017)

Gibbs, E. (2017a) Slaley, 2014. At:https://www.emilyjogibbs.co.uk/portrait1/ (Accessed 3 May 2017)

Gibbs, E. (2017b) Why don’t you, 2014. At:https://www.emilyjogibbs.co.uk/portrait1/ (Accessed 3 May 2017)

Phaidon (n.d.) What do you see in Georgia O’Keeffe’s flowers? At: http://uk.phaidon.com/agenda/art/articles/2014/february/05/what-do-you-see-in-georgia-okeeffes-flowers/ (Accessed 2 May 2017)

Rudling, L. (n.d.) Salthouse IV [collagraph] At:http://www.laurierudling.co.uk/asp-pages/etchings-and-collagraph-gallery.asp (Accessed 8 May 2017)

Part 4, Stages 2&3, Project 2, Exercise 2 – Polyfiller block

25 April 2017


Project 2, Exercise 2 – Polyfiller block

This exercise was about exploring textures for print using a Polyfiller block. As in project 2, exercise 1, I used a piece of mount-board between A4 and A3 which I was able to dive into 12 sections.

I wasn’t sure what type of polyfiller to use (there are flexible/silicone ones as well as those which are powder-based). In the end, I opted to mix up my own paste from a general purpose DIY filler powder. This gave me a large enough quantity of paste and allowed me to mix it to the correct consistency. 

Having spread the paste onto the mount-board, I had to work quickly manipulating each area with mark-making tools to achieve different textures. The finished board is shown below:

The tools which I used to create the textures were as follows:

Top row, left to right: Dabbing with a sponge, hair comb, nail brush, the circumference of a plastic bottle top, rolled in vertical stripes.

Middle row, left to right: Inscribing with a wooden kebab skewer, plant stem pressed into the filler to form ridges, woven leather and synthetic belt (the same one that I used in project 2, exercise 1), the edge of a plastic ruler.

Bottom row, left to right: The tip of a cotton bud, a plastic bottle top, section of crocheted bath mat (the same as used in project 2, exercise 1), the sole of a flip-flip (underside).

 

Because the filler tends to be powdery when dry I decided to also coat the board with a couple of layers of pva glue before taking any prints. I used different paper and fabric with Akua intaglio ink which I applied undiluted with a decorators’ paint brush. Before taking fresh prints, I replenished the block by re-inking. In all cases I worked the print by pressing and massaging the paper of fabric across the block using my thumb and fingers.

 

SAMPLE 1: 130gsm cartridge paper


I was rather disappointed with this print. Although the textures were captured, the ink only transferred to the “high points” of the polyfiller relief and consequently the print appears dot-like, rather disjoint and lacking depth.


SAMPLE 2: Brown paper

I used the type of brown paper which is used to wrap parcels and printed onto the glossy side. The coating had the effect of repelling the ink, and the transfer was sporadic and inconsistent.

It was a poor facsimile of the relief with little transfer in some areas and large pools of ink in others. For this reason it was my least favourite of the prints in this exercise.

 

SAMPLE 3: Cotton muslin

The detail and beauty of this print surprised me. In fact, the very process of working across and into the surface with my fingers was enlightening (in so much as I felt as if I was learning about the quality of the surface from the process); it was akin to throwing pottery.

The relief made by indents with a coton bud is shown below. I love the rings of ink around each of the round holes and the diffuse transfer of ink in the negative spaces between them.

Another texture which worked particularly well was the plant stem – the effect is like ripples in sand.

The final texture which I have chosen to highlight is the rolled circumference of a plastic bottle top (below). I was able to create different effects by rolling in perpendicular directions. The fine ridges gave very detailed impressions, and consequently a print with a great deal of delicacy and movement.


SAMPLE 4: Japanese tissue

The final print was taken onto Japanese tissue (see below):

Although some of the textures transferred well, it lacked the detail and depth of the print onto muslin. 

Part 4, Stages 2&3, Project 2, Exercise 1 – Create a collage block

24 April 2017


Project 2, Exercise 1 – Create a collage block

This exercise was purely about creating a collage block to explore the possibilities of collatype printing. The course notes gave detailed instructions on how to produce the sampler. 

My piece of mount-board was between A4 and A3 sized, so I was able to comfortably accommodate 12 different sections. I had lots of ideas and would have liked to experiment further, but because I was limited in time and materials, I tried to choose diverse surfaces including fabric, natural materials, synthetics, stitched materials and abrasive grit.

I started by applying a layer of pva adhesive onto the mount-board, onto which I stuck down my textured surfaces. When dry, I coated the whole board with two more layers of pva and left them to dry, to make sure my print block was waterproof (see below):

Top row, left to right: Flip-flop sole (two different sides), fruit net, crate ties, factory-make smocking.

Middle row, left to right: Crocheted bath mat, corduroy garment section (with seams), woven leather and synthetic belt, garlic net.

Bottom row, left to right: Curtain hooks, grass stem and ivy leaf, cambric fabric, 120 grit carborundum.

 

My focus was on exploring textures at this stage rather than developing patterns. I used different paper and fabric with Akua intaglio ink which I applied undiluted with a decorators’ paint brush. Before taking fresh prints, I replenished the block by re-inking. In all cases I worked the print by pressing and massaging the paper of fabric across the block using my thumb and fingers.

 

SAMPLE 1: 130gsm cartridge paper

The paper was sufficiently thin to be able to work around the relief surface of the collage block, and the print was crisp and well defined (see below):

All the surfaces were recognisable from the print. Particularly detailed was the stitching of the crocheted bath mat (centre row, right column). There was a surprising amount of detail from the ivy leaf (bottom row, centre-right column). It was an encouraging first print.


SAMPLE 2: Plain newsprint

The plain newsprint was even more lightweight than the cartridge paper and more absorbent. I was particularly interested to try this paper because I wanted to assess the effect of printing onto newspaper (thereby adding depth and texture to an already patterned surface).

In general the results were very similar to those achieved with the cartridge paper (see below):

The only slight difference is that the prints have more shadow and are therefore slightly less well defined. I prefer this because  I find it more atmospheric. The two close-ups below, illustrate the effect achieved. They are 1. Fruit net, 2. Curtain hooks. 

 

I particularly like the way that in the fruit net print, some of the negative spaces have been filled with ink whilst others have not, and the differences in tone across the surface.


SAMPLE 3: Cotton muslin


The nuances of tone are even better pronounced in this print than the paper ones in samples 1 and 2, so there is more suggestion of shadow. The detailed images below show how the threads of the fabric contribute to the beautiful textural quality of the print. There is much more of a feeling of movement of colour across the surface, unifying the different textural areas.


The above image shows the detail of the print from the crocheted bath mat.

And this image is of the fruit net print. It shows both movement and depth.

I can imagine embellishing and extending these prints with sensitive delicate stitching, perhaps in layers. Because they look great magnified, I might also consider photographing and digitally printing them to enhance the detail. Because the muslin is so delicate and translucent, there is also the possibility of layering different solid colours underneath to add additional depth and change the character of the print in different regions.


SAMPLE 4: Japanese tissue

 

The photograph above shows the print transferred onto the tissue. Most of the surfaces transferred well and gave crisp and identifiable images. It is most similar to the print onto muslin, although it lack the added detail of the fabric weave. A couple of close-ups are given below for comparison:

The crocheted bath mat print (above)

And the woven belt (above).

The character of these prints tends more towards the “powdery” whereas I would describe the prints onto fabric as being more “grainy” in texture. The prints onto Japanese tissue are almost stencil-like.

Part 4, Stages 2&3, Project 1, Exercise 4 – Working with stencils

29 March 2017


Project 1, Exercise 4 – working with stencils


SAMPLE 1: Figure stencil, 130gsm Snowdon cartridge paper, Akua intaglio ink

I wanted to start this exercise with a simple example, so I chose the figure on page 30 of my sketchbook. I started my simplifying the image, then did some sketchbook work to decide how I wanted to proceed with the stencil (see sketchbook pages 39-44). 

By simplifying the figure to a silhouette without clothing, the figure became androgynous. It is shadow-like and mysterious – there is more scope for the viewer to read the image in different ways, to relate to it in their own way and associate their own experiences and emotions.

I had to make a decision about the legs and head which were left indrawn in my optional sketch. I evaluated the options and decided that “framing” the figure top and bottom by extending the stencil worked best (see below)

 

I liked this configuration because to me it was the most meaningful; I could imagine the figure standing in a walkway of a high rise block, with the top of the head and areas below the knees obscured by concrete and just the centre area of the body visible.

Rather than use a blank, white piece of paper, I decided to rework sample 1 from project 1, exercise 3 (see below):

Poor_first_image.jpg

As well as wanting to use the lovely background texture of this sample, I recalled the figure drawing class where I had drawn the original image. Other exercises involved creating ghost-like effects by working multiple images one on top of each other (see below), which is what made me think this overlaying approach would work. The concept is developed further in pages 40 and 45-50 of my sketchbook)

 

I cut out my stencils from blank newsprint, and I laid each on top of my printed paper to see whether I preferred the positive of the negative.

It was my intention to use some opaque white Akua intaglio ink, so the white paper gave a good idea of what the finished print might look like. I preferred the dark figure and light background because it felt more shadow-like and therefore easier to relate to.

Never having used the white intaglio ink before, I was not sure just how “opaque” it was going to be, and I hoped that some of the background colour would show through my print. I inked a perspex plate with the neat ink and laid the stencil on top before laying on the paper and taking the print in the intaglio press. The result is shown below:

There are so many aspects of this print which I love; the overall feeling is one of mystery, as if we are looking at the shadowy figure through frosted glass. The white ink has partially covered the background, but is not the same colour white as the original paper, and so blotchy areas persist across the whole surface. The feint lines of the previous figure print suggest creases in clothing. This is my reading of the image, but each viewer will have their own interpretation, made possible by the lack of detail on the figure, and the suggestions made by the printed marks.

 

SAMPLE 2: Figure stencil, 130gsm Snowdon cartridge paper, Akua intaglio ink

I decided that I would rework sample 2b) from project 1, exercise 3 (see below). This was the ghost print after a back drawn monoprint had been taken from the plate.

First, I tried reusing the inked plate from sample 1 above for a second print. I removed the stencil and used the plate to print over the image. However, their was very little white ink left on the plate and the result was just a fine white outline where the stencil had been. This can be seen faintly to the right of the original outline (see below):

I decided that I would have to ink the plate again, and that white ink would be too pale to give a proper contrast with the background. Although I used the same stencil, by inking my plate in a darker colour (blue), I got the effect of a negative image (i.e. the figure was pale and the background was dark) – see sample 2a) below:

Although I love the white lines on the figure (again suggesting texture of clothes) overall I feel that it is not as successful as sample 1. For me, this is because I expect a figure with a lack of detail (silhouette) to be dark and shadowy and in the background, and there is a conflict with this figure being light and suggestive of being in the foreground.

Having completed this first sample, I thought I would extend the exercise by seeing what other interesting prints I could pull from the plate and stencil.

First, with the stencil still stuck to the inked plate, I laid some strips of etching scrim across it and took another print with the press (see sample 2b) below:

There is no detail from the fabric other than it’s outline, which I feel tends to confuse the silhouette of the figure. For this reason it is not my favourite print. However, I would probably keep it in case I thought of an opportunity where I could develop it by adding another layer of print or embellishment.

Next, I lifted the stencil and the scrim from the plate and took a third print (see sample 2c) below:

Although feint, this image has some lovely delicate features, such as subtle tonal variations between the areas of bare plate, paper stencil and fabric, and the detail of the fabric weave itself. There is also a darker line around the edge where the paper stencil was placed, providing a soft outline. The image has a ghostly quality, again invoking a sense of mystery.

Finally, I took the stencil and flipped it over on a piece of scrap paper to expose the inked surface. From this I took a final print (see sample 2d) below:

This image still retains textural detail where the scrim was placed during sample 2b). Personally, I don’t like this image quite as much as 2b) because it lacks the detail of the inked plate and residual marks of the scrim, which I feel add to the interest of the print.

 

SAMPLE 3: Fabric scraps, 130gsm Snowdon cartridge paper, Akua intaglio ink

My felt that samples 2b-2d lacked impact, and my preference would have been for them to have been bolder and the fabric weave more noticeable. However, these were ghost images taken from a plate which had already been used to produce a primary image, so I wondered whether I might get stronger results had I not already taken a print. The primary aim of this sample was to answer that question. I wanted also to understand what results I could get by using different types of fabric as stencils (see pages 42-43 of my sketchbook where I explored the concept of using fabric as a stencil for the figure prints)

I started by inking a plate and placing a selection on scraps of interesting textured fabric on top, including scrim, lace, burlap and irregular metallic mesh.

With the exception of the metallic mesh (where there was a slight ingress of ink), the ink did not penetrate through the weave and the scraps of fabric acted as solid stencils (see sample 3a below):

At the bottom of the print is the burlap, which made a lovely embossed pattern. I am drawn to the bold simplicity of this area and the contrast between the large blocks of white and the tiny thin threads at the edges of the shapes which have also acted as a mask to the ink. 

After I had carefully removed each scrap of fabric, I took a second print from the plate (sample 3b). This time I got a contrast of tones between the background of the printing plate and the areas which had been masked by the fabric. 

I was hoping for some strong impressions of the fabric textures. Burlap gave a very strong and striking print and the lace a feint one, but the texture of the scrim and metallic mesh were barely discernible. To understand this properly, I would have to do a series of experiments with different paper and ink combinations, to see how these variables might influence the print quality. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time (printmaking is a technical as well as an artistic discipline and one could spend I lifetime acquiring knowledge and experience).

Next, I took the fabric swatches, and flipped them over onto a scrap piece of paper on the print bed (sample 3c). The resulting print was very detailed, with all the fabric textures being replicated extremely well right down to the finest detail of single threads. In the case of the burlap, the “hairiness” of the cloth is also apparent, with prints of tiny loose fibres in the negative space between the weave.

 

SAMPLE 4: Burlap fabric figure stencil, 130gsm Snowdon cartridge paper, Akua intaglio ink

Following on from my experiments in sample 3, I decided to use the burlap fabric as a stencil, because it was the textile which had given the most bold and striking results on all three prints.

My burlap fabric was a wide “ribbon” made for floristry use, but it was unfortunately not wide enough to accommodate the complete stencil. As a consequence, I had to truncate parts of the strips which framed the top and bottom of the figure. In order to get the whole figure on the stencil, I also had to cut it out off the straight of the grain (see below):

The first print I took is show below (sample 4a):

I love the embossing from the burlap and the mask in the background which arose from loose fibres becoming displaced after cutting (detail below).

The edges of the mask look like edges of torn paper – another appealing characteristic, which I feel adds texture and softness to the print. I am less happy that the stencil is incomplete and that the figure shape could not be cut out precisely. I had an idea for developing this sample which I have expanded in my sketchbook (page 45) based on back drawing into the stencil area.

I used tracing paper to get an idea of how I could use back drawing to enhance the image (see below):

I think that the contrast between the bold smooth lines of the back drawing and the rough informality of the stencil outline are very strong visually. I decided to go ahead and add the backdrawing to my print, as shown below (sample 4a):

 

In hindsight, I should have known that the backdrawn lines would not show up against the dark blue background. One way of compensating for this would have been to run a print of white opaque ink over the whole print and allowing it to dry before attempting this backdrawing. This would have had the effect of making the background paler (see sample 1). When I did the backdrawing, I used a graphite stick to make the thick bold outline and the point of a cocktail stick to draw in the clothes. This worked well to give me the two different thicknesses of line which I wanted. An added benefit of the embossing was that it has picked up some of the smudges of the backdrawing to add texture to the print – a lovely subtle feature, suggesting textiles worn by the figure. 

As well as engendering a feeling of shadow and mystery, the two displaced images also make me think of the issue of identity; of being comfortable (or not) in one’s own skin. Another interpretation might be deja vu, or perhaps a feeling of social awkwardness, loneliness or being physically displaced. One of the strengths of this image is it’s multiple readings.

Next, I carefully peeled away the burlap and took another print from the plate (see sample 4b below):

The detail of the fabric and the tonal differences are beautiful; there is so much textural interest in this print.

I thought about using it for a backdrawing as I had the initial print, and developed the idea in my sketchbook (see page 45). Below is one example:

From my experience with sample 4a, however, I knew the back drawn lines would not have shown up due to insufficient contrast, so I decided to keep the print as a reference. Next time if I use a lighter ink initially I will be able to successfully back draw over it.

Using the stencil from sample 4a, I flipped it over so that the inked side was uppermost, placed it on some waste paper and took another print (see sample 3c below):

I decided that the image as it stood, was too vague and simplistic, and would be enhanced by emphasising certain parts of the outline using backdrawing. I wanted to add shading to remove the suggestion that the shape on top of the head was a hat and to emphasise certain parts of the negative space. I made several sketches of alternative ideas (see sketchbook page 47) and also thought about using either opaque or semi-transparent inks.

On this occasion, I used opaque Mars black for my backdrawing. As for sample 4a, I used a graphite stick and pointed end of a cocktail stick to transfer the ink using the backdrawing method. Above and and below the figure I used my fingers to press down and transfer marks/shading. To the left of the figure I used the edge of the graphite stick to transfer ink in a way which looks very similar to graphite stick shading. To the right of the arm are smudge marks associated with the pressure of my hand when I drew the outlines.,

I find that the variety marks and variation of tone make this image work well. It is also easily readable as a figure. Emphasising the negative space helps give the image a three dimensional quality, whilst the burlap texture reminds me of a metal mesh, perhaps suggesting an industrial setting, prison, or detention camp. The bright side of the image to the right suggests that this is where the light is coming from. This is the direction in which the figure is facing, perhaps looking to freedom, hope or a new horizon. The grey tones of this image are soothing and contemplative and overall it has a passive, reflective feel.

Finally, I just had to take a print from the inked plate which I had used for the backdrawing on sample 4c. However, before I did so, I used a paper towel and cotton buds and the edge of a credit card to remove ink from the background (thereby creating different textures and emphasising the negative space). This sample should really belong in project 1, exercise 1, because it is composed entirely of reductive process. However, it is included here because it was a logical progression from the figure stencil prints.

I love the soft tonal reductive work of Degas and the simple monoprint lines of Matisse. This print draws from both those influences. It is bold, simplistic (the figure), and yet complex and textural (the background). I think it works because it is interesting without being over detailed (see sample 4d below)

 

 

SAMPLE 5: Bamboo leaf and newsprint stencils, 130gsm Snowdon cartridge paper, Akua Intaglio ink

I wanted to do a series using plant material as a stencil, inspired by the collagraphy of Brenda Hartill, whom I had researched for my contextual studies. 

With most branches still bare, early Spring was not the best time to gather leaves. There are also very few of lovely seedpods and husks which are abundant in Autumn. Nonetheless, I managed to find some evergreen bamboo.

For added interest, I tore strips of plain newsprint to lay horizontally across the inked plate. I then laid the bamboo frond onto these strips, so that the paper stencil prevented some of the leaves from touching the plate.  

This sample was entirely materials led. It wasn’t planned from any sketchbook work – I just foraged for interesting materials and experimented with strips of paper stencils until I found a composition which I liked.

Working with Akua intaglio ink, I tried to make my plate more textural this time. In previous samples, I had inked the plate with a rubber roller, which gives a smooth, uniform covering. This time, I used the rubber roller, but purposely added colour without thoroughly blending, working in different directions to give a variable coverage of ink. The inked plate is shown below:

Below is the first print I pulled from the plate (sample 5a):

Both the paper and the bamboo have acted as solid stencil and there is some lovely embossing from the bamboo stem. This is an image which could easily be overlaid with additional prints, or perhaps used as a base for backdrawing or stitching. 

Next, I removed both the paper an bamboo stencils and took a second print from the plate (sample 5b). This print is very beautiful because of the exquisite detail of the leaves and stem. In fact it is much more visible when printed than simply looking at the leaf.

Next, I removed the leaf frond from the inked plate, and replaced the the paper stencils which I had removed for sample 5b, flipping them over so that their inked side was uppermost. I took a third print (sample 5c):

Because the newsprint is so thin, the pressure of the strips going through the intaglio press on the first print has transferred all the detail of the bamboo leaves onto them. In this print it means we have a strong but fragmented image of the plant transferred from the paper strips and a very subtle background print (because this is the third print from the plate without re-inking).

I love the composition of the three strips covering just over half of the paper and the other part being a feint image of the same subject. There is a sense of imbalance which is intriguing.

There is also a sense of distance, with the three strips being in the foreground and the rest of the image being further away (as if shrouded in mist, perhaps?). This three dimensionality makes the print interesting in it’s own right, but also as a candidate for further development. I can imagine folding the paper, and if it were printed on fabric, then pleating. Joining with other materials could be used to provide contrast; perhaps a opaque smooth material (but not shiny) in chromatic grey (unfortunately, I do not have the time or sketchbook space to follow all these ideas through, but I am recording them here for future reference). 

Next, I took the perspex plate and re-inked it using a darker colour. I then took the bamboo frond which I had used previously and flipped it, so that the inked side was uppermost. Because it had been used with the paper stencils, however, only part of the leaves were inked. The result is shown below (sample 5d):

Because the bamboo frond has been used, there is embossing from the stem. I like the two colour effect and the fact that some of the leaf print extends over the frame of the perspex plate. As a stand alone image it is striking and engaging.

Next, I removed the bamboo frond from the inked plate, flipped it over, placed it back on the plate before taking a second print. The result is shown below (sample 5e):

Although this is a single colour print, it is perhaps the one which best captures the fine detail of the leaves and stems, and for this reason I like it very much. The plant is the star, and the complexity of it’s construction is offset by the single colour and subtly different tones.

My final print using the bamboo is shown below (sample 5f):

I flipped the bamboo frond again and placed it back onto the plate. Similar to sample 5b, there are shadowy prints in the background and bold prints in the foreground. There are white areas where the tips of the bamboo leaves did not touch the ink in the previous pull. It is just as beautiful as the previous print, but slightly more complex. What I like is that all the marks are related because they are made with the same bamboo frond. This gives harmony and a sense of togetherness to the image.

 

SAMPLE 6: Dried grass stem, 130gsm Snowdon cartridge paper, Akua intaglio ink and liquid pigment

I wanted to extend the work I had done in sample 5 by seeing if I could combine the plant stencilling technique with reductive techniques and drawing using the Akua needle nib and liquid pigment. 

First, I inked a perspex plate by brushing on Akua intaglio ink and used a paper towel to remove ink in the areas that I intended to draw on the flowers. Next, I loosely sketched lilies from memory using akau liquid pigment, directly onto the same plate. I laid the plate on the bed of the intaglio press and placed grass stems on top. The print which I took is shown below (sample 6a).

I like the mark-making in this sample. The lillies have a lovely loose spontaneity about them and the intentional texture from the background brushwork is also pleasing. Because this is the first print, the shape of the grass stems appear as a resist, suggesting they are in front of the image and adding depth and interest. For me, it is analogous to a photograph where the focus is on the lillies, and the grass stems appear out of focus in the foreground; the decision has been taken to only provide visual detail to the lillies. The viewer is left to interpret the grass stems as they wish.

The only aspect of this image which I do not like is the colour scheme. The pink I have used feels slightly sickly and rather kitsch.

Next, without re-inking the plate, I removed the grass stems, turned them over and placed them inked side uppermost. The ghost print which I took is shown below (sample 6b):

This image is more subtle, with a powdery or misty feel and an added layer of tone/depth. The detail of the grasses is now visible, so the image is more prescriptive.

These two prints almost make me want to introduce another layer – tissue, stitching, a semi-transparent photograph? Any additions, however would have to be made without causing the image to become confused or muddled. Another option might be to expand small areas or particular interest and enlarge them – maybe to make a set of square tiles, related by colour and mark. These could be joined with a contrasting material, either as a flat panel or make into a three-dimensional polygon. I have thought about some ideas on page 53 of my sketchbook.