Tutor Feedback: Assignment 4

Overall good- she was pleased with contextual reading and research. I do feel I am starting to find my feet with this. The critical theory learned during my English lit degree does really help as there is a lot of crossover between the two disciplines but there is still more to learn, especially as things have moved on since 1990s when I was at college.
Use of ephemeral items fits with theme of hauntology and simulcra. She recommended I revisit using a selection of feathers, which I intend to do.

Not clear why I chose the poster- to be honest neither am I. Upon reflection I think I was trying to reference protest posters as a way of justifying the use of text in my work but I agree it doesn’t necessarily fit the theme so well. My tutor has reassured me that I can use text in its own right within an artwork, something I am interested in pursuing.

4 prints on cartridge are seen as patchy. I sent these to her as a contrast to the others in the book- personally I quite liked the atmosphere from the patchiness, but I can now see that they look a bit weak as prints.

She liked my use of monotone but gave advice to be more confident with my choice of colour, something that I need to work on. I realise my issues lie in self doubt and lack of confidence. Going forward I feel I need to try a number of colour options out in my sketchbook then have the courage of my convictions to carry it out without second guessing myself all the time.

My tutor liked the artists’ book. She felt the decked edges and fragile nature of it suited the theme well. She recommended that I interleaf tissue the same size as each page throughout. I know I have sought more reassurances from her here and she gave good advice to ask myself the questions- how does this fit with my own theme? Keep thinking of techniques that connect and through doing this I will find my own answers. This is really useful feedback on how I can become more autonomous in my practice, something that I need to be able to be as I develop into level 2.

The complexities of Japanese stab binding were mentioned and the combination of fine tissue and thick printing paper would make it very difficult. She thought perhaps leaving the clip in place would be ok- I think I will do this because it fits with the ephemeral/ throw away theme anyway.

In regard to the book she also recommended I consider narrative more- thinking in terms of my previous research into Andy Warhol and Marilyn – the fading away. Something that I will look at.

Finally further advice to blend research with own practice as at the moment they are two very distinct separate entities- this should help everything flow together a lot better. This is something that was picked up on in feedback in the painting course. I really want to tackle this and get to grips with as I approach the end of this course. 

Suggested viewing

  • Mark Hearld- I had a look at his work earlier on in the course and can appreciate his images of the natural world.
  • WW1 postcards on display – West Yorkshire print workshop- I had a look at the website my tutor suggested and she was right- I have found this particularly inspirational and relevant. I keep being pulled back to ideas around the archive as well as the ephemeral and there are many links there that I would like to explore further in the remaining exercises. It has made me think about other items that are ephemeral and my mind is whirring with how I can bring this all together in my final pieces.

Final pointers:

Do not feel restricted by nature of assignment brief- push boundaries. – The above exhibition had given me some ideas on how I might do this.

Develop your theme further- a final push to identify your own voice.

Ensure that written theoretical research and notes about concept of brief connect together.

As an attempt to start thinking about the last point I put together this mind map as a starting point.

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Project 13: Combination mono and linocut- preparatory work.- Design 1.

The initial starting point for this project came about after a recent counselling session regarding past grief and trauma memories. My father passed away in quite traumatic circumstances, relating to his continued battles with alcoholism in 2002; which is taking me a long time to process. Perhaps…probably..this is why I am drawn to the subject matter regarding absence/loss and hauntology. I wanted this series of works to be relating to “lost futures” representative of my father’s absence and presence throughout my life, but also his own personal loss of a happy, fully satisfying life due to his ongoing addiction.

Addiction within a family has a huge impact on childhood and it isn’t something that was openly discussed, so there is a certain amount of vulnerability in exposing these aspects of my life within a public space. And yet it feels important to work with it and express my feelings through my art, as an act of cartharticism.

Feeling inspired by my therapy session I was moved to work directly from a photographic reference of my father holding my sister and I as children. I manipulated the image on the PC and converted it to black and white.

[With hindsight I should have also spent time cropping the image to create a slightly better composition]

Choosing to work with a limited palette I felt that would create atmosphere and mood. Using process blue and extender I mapped out the different tonal values. In terms of scale, I was working small because firstly the original photo was small and intimate which I wanted to recreate and secondly I could then use the embossing machine at this size.

From these initial studies I liked the ghostly, distorted photographic quality from this technique.

I photocopied the prints and used these as a basis for working out the linocut layer by drawing various detail over. I decided the more realistic, figurative option worked the best as it made sense and connected the figures to the space.

The linocut lines worked well with the inked figures of the child figures, but I was not comfortable with the blank central figure- even though it fits my theme, this empty space seems to dominate the composition. Also I felt I needed to pay more attention to colour and the background.

Investigating colour options initially playing with the image on the PC. I then looked at the work of Robert Tavener, who I had been made aware of through an artist friend of my mother. By employing a carefully controlled limited palette to create a strong atmosphere in his works. The image that I was most drawn to was the lithograph “Fishermen with baskets” where the artist uses a lighter cool blue against a warmer darker blue to provide interest. The faces and arms have been left white with faint features showing which create a ghostly appearance.

Further printing trying different effects with mono prints and linocut template slightly offset led to some interesting results but not really achieving what I set out to. Instead focussing on the background and using two different coloured blues – cyan and blue black achieved a better result the most successful of my experiments with my first design. (See bottom left of this page of studies)

I intend to come back to this piece when I have clarified my plans for all 3 of these prints to ensure they all work together coherently, but for now I am quite pleased with this as a starting point.

Assignment 4: Gallery / overview of submitted work

Below is a summary of the work that I have submitted for assignment 4 with links to the relevant pages in my blog.

Statement of Intent (update) link

Evaluation against assessment criterialink

Part 4 Research link

Part 4 Bibliographylink

Part 4 sketchbooklink

Overview

This part of the course has been a bit of a struggle and time has run away with me once again, this is because I have never done any collagraph or intaglio printmaking before so needed extra time on the technical areas. Also the critical reading that I undertook was very dense and so took time to read, digest and understand. I could have done with longer but I do not have that luxury and so need to send my prints as they are. After feedback from my tutor I have decided to push my assessment back til next year so at least I will have time to rework pieces where necessary prior to that.

Project 11- Test Prints (link here)

After a few false starts I finally managed to get some acceptable results.

Project 12

‘Field’ poster (link here)

Fields Poster Print

I feel this is reflective of the overriding theme and the references to Peter Doig’s movie posters and Anselm Kiefer’s paintings can be seen. From these I have drawn a sense of atmosphere and foreboding that represents the plight of the yellowhammer.

 

‘Silence .is’ Artists Book (link here)

Silence.is BookConceptually I am really pleased with this set of prints, I believe it brings together many strands of my practice – links with poetry & text, representative of the theme of absence and presence and also relates to the critical ideas of ‘Hauntology’  – the yellowhammer’s past life but also ghosts of it’s lost futures; and also the ideas surrounding ‘Deep Ecology’ and the broader environmental issues therein.

Technically, however I ran out of time and did not have enough good quality printmaking paper to produce many editions, so this may need more work.

My intention is to bind it via the Japanese stab binding method when I have satisfactorily completed the prints.

Demonstration against Assessment Criteria (Assignment 4)

Demonstration of technical and visual skills

Technical

  •  The lack of experience with collagraph / intaglio printmaking methods meant that this part of the course was a steep learning curve. I needed to do lots of reading online, and in books taken from the library into the practical processes required. This all took time to produce acceptable results which was a difficulty considering the constraints I am under.
  • As I do not have a press I borrowed a friend’s embossing machine. This took time and practice to work out how much padding to use in order to create the necessary pressure.
  • There were many issues that could potentially affect the final result: pressure, right consistency of ink, using correct paper, dampened sufficiently – initially I found this very overwhelming and again took time to get reasonable results but did gradually improve.

Visual

  • I enjoyed the process of working from life initially. I produced some quite expressive sketches initially but unfortunately was not able to retain this quality through the printing process.
  • My design and composition skills are OK but the plates are all relatively simple in terms of the pictorial elements. I felt that it was better to produce simple plates initially as I am just learning; perhaps I will be able to produce more complex ones in the future.

Quality of Outcome

  • The overall theme and subject matter helps to give some coherency and a sense of narrative to the work.
  • I feel that continuing to use text into my work is working and is something that I plan to use – perhaps it is part of my ‘voice’ as an artist.
  • The final results are not as refined as I would have liked but hopefully that will come with practice.

Demonstration of Creativity

  • I feel the detailed research process (contextual and visual) at the start of this section of the course has fed into my practice in interesting ways which I think is reflective of me as an artist.
  • I enjoy experimenting with materials and processes and like to take risks. However, as this was such a new medium and my time was spent with learning how to do it I feel that there is more to be done here. Hopefully with time after the course has finished I will be able to build my confidence and come up with more imaginative outcomes.

Context

  • I have enjoyed researching into the critical theory of hauntology and deep ecology. Derrida’s writing is very difficult to understand initially so took me many times of rereading before I could grasp his concepts. Hopefully I managed to articulate my learning in the statement of intent update at the beginning of this part of the course.
  • I feel that reflecting on my own performance is becoming second nature now and it is a useful discipline to get into.
  • The research into contemporary artists is becoming much more integrated into my working approach now which I have documented in my blog pages as I have been progressing through the projects.

Questions for Tutor: Assignment 4

Questions for Tutor

Specific Assignment

  • I would be really grateful for feedback on the intaglio printed booklet in particular as I have no experience of this at all and am in the dark as to what is good work.
  • I have included 4 extra prints that were printed on cartridge paper – because the paper was slightly drier there are different results – I quite like the atmosphere, possible reflecting the ghostly apparitions of the dead bird shape in them but they could be seen as patchy – I would value your thoughts on this.
  • I chose to use monochrome only for these prints as I felt it added more drama – do you agree with this choice?
  • Do you think the book idea is a good one? Or should I separate the prints out as a selection? My intention is to bind the book with the Japanese binding method – it would be a very thin pamphlet style book do you think this would be O.K.?
  • I quite liked the deckled edge of the paper so went with that – I am wondering whether that would look a bit messy as a book. What do you think – should I trim them instead?

General

  • Do you feel that I am at a standard where I can go in for assessment? I have taken your advice and have decided to push it back to March next year

Part Four: Sketchbook

Project 12: Collatype collage prints – ‘silence. is’ series

Further to my last tutor report she recommended I look at a website about book arts. She was not saying I should produce an artist book but more felt it was a useful resource to discover  contemporary printmakers’ work but after looking at this I felt inspired to create a book, considering it fits with the ideas of text and narrative that are filtering into my work.

I scanned in a number of my sketches that I had previously produced in my sketchbook and manipulated them into a square format. I also added in the first two lines of text from the EE Cummings poem.

These I traced onto 10cm square pieces of mountboard and produced plates utilising different methods.Exif_JPEG_PICTURE

 

I knew that I would have difficulty cutting the letters out at this small scale. Luckily the friend who lent me her embossing machine also recently acquired a cutting machine, so I was able to scan my image into her system and cut these out. I wanted to try both embossed and debossed versions of these.

The ‘looking bird’ was hand cut out of card then covered with gloss medium.

I decided to add the graph which signified the decline of the yellowhammers’ population – one using card and wire and the other with embroidery thread. I did them both way around not knowing which way was best.

The egg I made using various thicknesses of paper and card overlaid and adding textured elements using sand and glue.

The dead bird with wings outstretched was made by tearing the mountboard to reveal the shape.

The hanging bird was made using plaster, engraved with different tools to create texture.

To symbolise barbed wire I  made a plate with wood glue which had carborundum sprinkled on.

The next bird shape was created by cutting the shape out of card and sticking that on top of a mountboard plate that had been covered with clue then carborundum.

I wanted to try drypoint so produced an image of a bird in the hand.

Finally the last bird shape was made by using a stencil to block out the shape and glue was placed around this – the stencil was then removed and the carborundum was then sprinkled on top of this.

I first printed these blind on dampened cartridge paper without ink to produce embossings.

I was surprised at how well some of these turned out, even without ink. Then I used ink .

This was a challenge and took a long time to master. There were lots of variables to consider in this process: pressure; consistency of ink; dampness of paper; quality of paper; quality of plate. There was lots of trials and errors and many days of work before I got to some of a reasonable standard, here are some of my failed attempts and some towards the end that were starting to improve:

I was interested by how the carborundum in particular printed much more densely on the dampened printmaking paper rather than cartridge. I wonder whether some of the atmosphere is lost in that process? Something I would like my tutor’s feedback on.

To make the ‘book’ I decided to attach the pages together with a bulldog clip, unfortunately I noticed that the back cover sheet had been resting on another surface and had left black inky residue on the blind embossing which is a shame. Hopefully if I have time I will be able to run another of these off before I send.

 

Evaluation

What worked well?

  • This set of images conveys the ideas of loss, absence and presence that I was aiming for. I think in particular the blind embossed covers are reflective of this theme.
  • I have used a large variety of processes and a number of materials to produce this series.
  • A few of the plates were very successful: barbed wire, looking bird, egg shell, decline graph alongside the blind embossed versions.

What was challenging / didn’t work well?

  • There were many challenges with this set of prints. Initially I practised using dampened cartridge paper and realised that using specific printmaking paper had a very different outcome. Unfortunately due to financial limitations I only had one sheet of the somerset satin available so was not able to practice and produce as many prints as I would have liked.
  • The inked words are possibly a bit heavy in retrospect and could have done with some further wiping.
  • The dead bird with wings outstretched was possibly overwiped – I used cotton buds so this became more of a monotype than a collagraph ( for this image I think I prefer the relief printed version above).
  • With the 2 ‘bird shape’ prints I have tried to create works that are on the border of figurative and abstraction (referencing Prunella Clough’s negative space prints) I am not sure these have been completely successful in terms of outcome.

Development?

  • I am hoping to be able to invest in some more printmaking paper and then can revisit some of the weaker prints.
  • I would perhaps make some new plates with some added textural elements in some areas.
  • When I have produced a set that I am completely happy with I intend to learn how to bind them together. I have read that Japanese stab binding would be the best method for making a book out of loose leaves.
  • For this project I chose to stick to use monochrome  as I felt that this reflected the two oppositional forces, negative space and hauntology in the best way; however I would like to have an experiment in using multi-colours in these prints at some point in the future when I have time before assessment.

 

 

 

Project 12: Collatype Collage Prints – Print 2

For this next attempt I was considering my tutor’s comments about narrative from her feedback to my last assignment. I wanted to tell the story of the yellowhammer’s decline in a different way.

Exif_JPEG_PICTUREI had recently been reading about the history of printmaking with its strong links to communicating social protest and political messages. I had come across the ‘Poster Workshop’ a group from the late 1960s who produced many protest posters. I can feel the anger and angst in their works. The messages are blatant and in your face. As a contrast I looked at some posters produced by contemporary graphic designers who are more subtle and ambiguous in their approach.

Text seems to be becoming an important element in my work so I wanted to include some here, but I didn’t want it to appear too obvious or aggressive. I started having a play with different words in my sketchbook.

Exif_JPEG_PICTUREPoetry too is of influence and I recently came across this poem, ‘Silence’ by E.E. Cummings. It interested me how the poet is very visual in his approach, playing with the format of the text to create aesthetic value. The ambiguity of meaning and the continuing references to silence versus voice within the text feel very relevant to my theme of absence vs. presence.

After reading some of Derrida’s critical theory surrounding deconstruction I am drawn to these ideas of depicting two oppositional forces at once. I considered what I was trying to convey in this piece:

absence vs. presence

silence vs. voice

intensity vs space

Exif_JPEG_PICTUREIn continuing to research posters I remembered Peter Doig had produced a number of ‘movie posters’ which advertised different films for his studio film club. I find the atmosphere of Doig’s paintings particularly appealing but also Iwas struck by the idea of presenting my piece in a similar vein. Considering the meanings above alongside this context I came up with “The Intensive Exif_JPEG_PICTUREVoid” which I feel conveys a sense of drama and narrative.

From this title I came up with a few alternatives but found the image of a bleak field was the most relevant.

This reminded me of the works of fields by Anselm Kiefer. In these he used a limited subtle palette which worked to create a bleak and haunted atmosphere. Kiefer draws upon historical and political references in his work. The idea for these relating to the period after the 2nd world war when  Henry Morgenthau Jr, recommended that Germany be ‘demilitarised and deindustrialised’ (Gayford, 2014).

The plate was made using the back of an old painting that had been produced on canvas board cut to A3 size. I drew the field shape and added text on printer paper (remembering to glue it down back-to-front); pieces of masking and parcel tape were also used, alongside wood glue and sand, plus I scored into the board in some areas.

To print I used 2 rollers: soft for blue ink and hard with black. I liked how the sand did not take the ink in places at the top of the image. I felt that this added to a distressed look reminiscent of disintegrating movie film. These textures all worked together to produce atmosphere: an intensity whilst still appearing bleak, which is what I was trying to convey.

Evaluation

What worked well?

  • The broad range of contextual research: posters, paintings and poetry have informed my process well and come together to produce an interesting outcome.
  • Using only thin surface materials of a relatively similar height have created a good range of textures.
  • The sand is a contrast which adds to a sense of decay / deterioration.
  • Printing in two colours with differing rollers adds to a mood / atmosphere.

What was challenging / didn’t work so well?

  • I found cutting the text out to be quite a fiddly process.
  • For some reason I used masking tape on three sides and not the fourth so the border is not consistent around the edge.

Development?

  • I would like to carry on this theme using the poem but also with the representations of the bird in a smaller format, printed in intaglio.

References

Gayford, M (2014) Anselm’s Alchemy [online] at: https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/article/anselms-alchemy (Accessed: 14th June 2016)