Adding Texture

Adding materials to a gelatin plate

I felt that using oil based inks for this would be a bit messy so I decided to work with watersoluble inks for this exercise.

I had enjoyed playing around with my circular gelli plate before and wanted to make a large rectangular version. I found a recipe online using gelatine and glycerine. I followed the instructions, my only issue was that our spirit level was clearly faulty and the plate set at an angle. This also meant that I couldn’t wipe the bubbles away from the surface, but considering that I was deliberately trying to create texture it was not a major concern for these experiments.

Initially I used a variety of household items to create patterns in the surface and layered the ink to produce interesting results. I found building up many layers of ink thinned with extender to increase transparency worked better than using thicker more opaque ink. It was a lot easier to get a good transfer with the gelatin plate – hand pressure was all that was needed meaning I could use cheaper cartridge paper for the prints.

I found registration a bit of a problem and the edging was a bit messy so made a frame out of plastic that I could place onto the plate to create cleaner edges. I still was using my eye for registration which was difficult initially but improved with practice.

After Louise Bourgeois

I had been browsing the works of Louise Bourgeois recently – particularly her drawings and used some of these as inspiration for a set of textural prints. The initial print was a plain orange which I then overprinted with black that I had imprinted with different materials, to create various imagined landscapes. Through this process I found that I enjoyed the accidental effects that occurred and were out of my control. I found this preference during the painting 1 course also, naturally I like that freedom and allowing the medium to do the work. My difficulty is getting the composition and structure right in a picture so that it looks like a work of art – this I hope will improve through this printing course as I focus more on the design elements.

Using texture with masks

Finally I wanted to work using my ‘falling’ stencil to build up interesting layers and texture. I had been reading about the artist Alberto Giacometti recently and also the idea of existentialism. Another tendency of mine is to be autobiographical and possibly Freudian in my approach to the art I produce. I am interested in the psychological aspects of art and how very often the work I create reflects what is going on in my life. I believe this figure particularly reflects the imbalances and state of flux that my life is in currently. Due to getting ill then losing my job and career I have suffered a bit of an identity (or “existential”) crisis. The phrase “Who Am I?” seems to be a preoccupation so I decided to use these words as part of this print – and created a stencil using these letters and overlaid these with the text.

I enjoyed this process and I was generally pleased with the result. The writing is oblique and only alludes to the underlying meaning which I think works well. The layering too is successful. On the negative side I am not sure what I think about my colour choices. I do like the colours and I suppose they add a different dimension. I think subconsciously I had images of Gary Hume’s candy colours in my mind – so there is a contemporary reference point, but perhaps these work against the general ideas and mood I am trying to convey. Perhaps the colours soften the blow or perhaps they are too far removed? This is something to consider as I progress.

Using solvents

After researching artists that use texture I wanted to have a little play adding solvent to the plates to see what effects I could produce.

1st attempt: Using watersoluble iExif_JPEG_PICTUREnks on a Perspex plate, water as solvent.

• Not successful – large splodge of ink
• Water dried in some areas and not others, disappointing effect.

2nd attempt: Oil-based ink and using alcohol.

• 1st print – droplets printed darker- wetter
• Ghost: really like the effect. Reminiscent of organic forms growing.
• Have recently been looking at Jean Dubuffet’s “Les Phenomenes” series of lithographs and the ghost print here reminds me of these.
• I find these effects of chance, these happy accidents that occur, very appealing. I am not yet sure how to embrace them and use them in a main piece of art yet but that is something I would like to consider as I develop.


Two-coloured masked prints (final session)

I started the day with more overprinting on previous prints. I was really pleased with how one was progressing, but I was using thinner, finer Japanese paper which resulted in me overburnishing a hole in it, this was very frustrating. Its interesting – I need to change the process dependent on the paper I am using.

I enjoyed building up the layers. I decided it was not necessary to be exact with the placement of the masks or alignment as I found the misalignment added to the feeling of movement. I was pleased with the registration of the plates and felt that these final prints were quite successful.

I then moved on to my final design, which had progressed from a William Blake plate. I kept simplifying the shape until it was something I could work with. I again followed the same process as before – creating a paper cut, then scanning this in and playing with different colours on the PC. In these versions I liked the greyish hues the best, and I thought it would be fun to try and colour match the ink colour through the mixing process.

The soft rubber roller had arrived which improved the process somewhat. I think this could be improved even further with a smaller roller, but this I would not be able to afford for a while so I needed to make do.

I produced a number of prints from this image. I definitely felt I had got the hang of the registration process and applying the ink successfully.

The more textured versions were definitely more appealing to me, although the lack of contrast in terms of ink colour meant that the figure was a little indescript in places, which was entirely what the brief was asking for. This might be something that I can work up with backdrawing in the future.

There was quite a lot of ink left at the end of the session so I had a quick play with back drawing just to experiment. I clearly hadn’t got to grips with it as a lot of ink was coming through onto the paper. I was too tired to keep on with this but when I come back to this process I need to:
• use less ink
• potentially use thicker paper to reduce transfer
• I also want to try with different implements to make different quality of marks.

Two-coloured masks (next session)

I wanted to use the same mask for the next session but with using different colours.

Having a read around other blogs there was one other idea to get a good registration:
Use one plate. Print the negative mask first, then put the mask onto the used plate and ink up over the mask. The instructions stated its better to use a soft rubber roller for this technique, mine hasn’t yet arrived but I had a go.

It was clear that this process would not be possible without the softer roller. Because of the lack of give in the roller that I had it was almost impossible to ink around the mask successfully. I will try this again when my other roller arrives.

The next technique I tried was to make masks out of ver thin plastic cut from plastic polyfolders and then laying this over an already inked up plate. This produced some very interesting textures but it was very hard to get a successful print.

The final technique I tried for this session was to use two plates as I had done the day before. Printing the positive image first, then laying the positive mask over that printed paper and laying the plate over the top. I didn’t have my husband available today so instead I moved the plate and paper to the floor and placed a board over the top then applied foot pressure initially.
Foot pressure wasn’t strong enough to transfer the print completely but it gave enough suction from mask to ink that it allowed me to turn the paper and plate over so that I could hand burnish the rest. And although this approach was a bit cumbersome it worked well in producing good alignment between the two masks.

For the final element of the session I tried overprinting some of the ghosts from the day before. The paper had dried and this resulted in more texture and atmosphere in the final prints.

Positive and Negative masks (Cockerel 2)

Further research and experiments in my sketchbook led to my interpretation of Picasso’s “Le Coq”.

Wanting to try out different colours I scanned the picture in and then manipulated the size and colours using the programs: Inkscape and Paintshop Pro on the PC. I decided I liked the red version best for the subject matter.

The plate was a small A5 piece of acetate and A4 paper and tried a few versions:

• Spotted ink applied to acetate stencil on black plate – result was not very successful but I liked the ghost which had created some accidental interesting textures on the surface.
• Painted Mylar and printed onto plain paper (Considered doing this after looking at the works of Jules Henri Lengrand) – I quite liked the result finding this was a useful way to get a painterly approach and yet keep clean edges.
• Produced positive and negative masked prints using red. These were OK but I found that I hadn’t cut the plate neatly which was visible on one of the prints.
• Then I tried the same on darker paper. The initial version was too dark as the ink was too transparent to counter that and increase the opacity of the paint I needed to mix white and yellow with the ink, which improved the result. This is another element that needs consideration – the transparency of the ink and how that will be affected by the paper / other printing below.

Project 3: Two-coloured masked prints

Through my prior studies I have found I like looking back into art history and I wanted to use some other artists’ work as basis for my work. I played with a number of ideas in my smaller sketchbook and then developed these further into my larger book.

Two artists that had a strong appeal to me were the figures of William Blake and Auguste Rodin.

I was particularly taken with Rodin’s drawings of dancers. I liked the shape and movement he managed to capture whilst using solid blocks of colour.

I have an anatomy book which contains large black and white photographs of dancers in different poses whilst in movement. These I found particularly dynamic and a good source for this exercise.

I made some sketches in my sketchbook and then simplified the forms. Using paper I created a papercut, and liked the result.

As before I decided to scan this in and play with colour alternatives on the PC. After a while of playing I found I liked best the examples that were close in hue: i.e. red on orange and blue on violet. These were the versions I wanted to print.

1. First attempts – Dampened Simili paper – following instructions in the coursebook. I didn’t use enough ink and the mask was misaligned.

2. Simili paper – using two plates – this time attached the second mask onto paper using masking tape, this tore the paper a bit. Also there was a line of red across the top.
This line was possibly because the mask was slightly smaller than the plate or not straight or because I hadn’t wiped the plate edges.

3. Japanese Shoji paper – this paper was wonderful – it was so much easier to get a good transfer. In fact the ink just transferred using finger pressure. If I could afford this paper I would use it all the time, but unfortunately I need to be frugal with it as I have just one sheet.
To create the print this time I printed the positive version first and then placed the mask over that covering the inked area on the paper. Then I turned the second inked plate over and placed this on top of the paper.
I needed to ask for my husband’s help in order to turn this over.
I was able to get a really good registration and alignment using this process but obviously my husband would not be available all the time to assist so I needed to find another way.

4. The ghosts I quite liked but I should have layered the red and orange and forgot to use the same paper for both ghosts, that would have produced a different better result. (I overprinted these later on and didn’t take photos of initial prints)

Project 2: Positive and negative masks. (Cockerel 1)

Initial focus was on landlord’s chickens – produced a number of sketches and took a variety of photographs.

After researching paper-cuts, I realised that for this to be successful, the shapes: positive and negative needed to be interesting.

I produced a small silhouette study in my small sketchbook, which I thought could be used as a mask.

When observing the chickens I had a thought about how chickens can often remind me of dinosaurs with their movement and also they are their closest living relatives. I found an image online from a French encyclopaedia page which I thought could be incorporated. Unfortunately the image was portrait and my mask was landscape so I manipulated it on the PC and printed out some sheets to print over.

Initially I printed over dry paper and then dampened some.

I had read about ways of dampening delicate papers here, which seemed to work successfully.

When it came to printing I had a few issues:
• When burnishing I was not being consistent across the whole plate and so the result was patchy.
• Registration was an issue, especially with the printed paper – perhaps I was trying to run before I could walk here.

On the positive side:
• Particularly liked the visual texture of the printed paper below the image, perhaps I can use this in a different way in the future so that registering the mask within exactly in the centre of the sheet isn’t such an issue.

Further Monoprints from life using oils

Feeling I hadn’t quite got to grips with oil-based inks I wanted to have another go before moving on.

I wanted to improve my use of colour and also produce a better transfer.

After my initial experiments I received some useful advice from the OCA printmaking forum on facebook. The consensus was either to use thinner paper or to slightly dampen it and for burnishing use a range of tools. I also had written to the Caligo ink support and they gave me advice to mix extender with the ink for monotype work as it changed the ink to a slightly looser consistency, making it easier to apply with a brush.

For the first little experiment I chose to keep things simple, just using a single apple. I carefully burnished the paper using a roller, wooden spoon, heavy glass paperweight, and jam jar.

This resulted in a much better transfer and even the ghost came out quite well.

Next I went back to the brief in the handbook this time paying attention to the fact that I needed to use complimentary colours. I used the initial glasses with a piece of lemon for colour variation and then used a violet grey background for contrast. The result was much more successful than the first attempt. I realise that this process also frees up my brushwork and allows me to create a looser representation of the subject, which I think is a positive. I am starting to realise that colour is an important aspect to making a print work.

After these prints I decided I was ready to move on.