Collaboration: Edge-zine & OCA Drawing project

I have been involved in two collaborative projects recently.

A fellow OCA student, Angela Johnson had the brilliant idea to produce a college fanzine. The first issue’s theme was ‘Absence’, which was a perfect fit for me. I decided to produce a digital collage using photographs of the prints produced during part three of the course.

I wrote a short article based on the research and reading I have been doing on this course. My copy is below.

edgezine-how-can-you-be-here-but-not-here

I found the process of combining my images with accompanying writing to be very enjoyable. I have also contributed to the second issue. The theme is ‘Change’ and will be out and available from the website soon.

Earlier in the year, I produced 3 square drawings as part of a group OCA project. I wrote about it on this blog in March.

The results of the group images are below. The first image is Dorethea Lange’s “Migrant Mother”. The second is Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus”. These pieces work well as a whole, with a variety of media and styles creating interest. I feel it is really successful and I am pleased that I got involved.

Joanne Mulvihull-Allen, Course Support Advisor at OCA, has organised for these to be exhibited, which she is currently putting together.

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Bibliography: Part 5

The bibliography for this final part of the course is attached in the document below alongside my reading notes.

I have recently acquired the phone app: “Ref Me” which has made the whole process much easier to manage,. This has enabled me to log all of my reading rather than a selection and the list is quite extensive for that reason. Also  I had a period of illness when I was not able to produce any physical artwork but was able to read, which allowed me to spend more time on the contextual side.

bibliography-part-5

Assignment 5: Gallery / Evaluations /overview of submitted work

Overview

I have enjoyed the course greatly. Considering I had next to no printmaking experience at the start, I am pleased to now have at least a basic understanding of the processes involved. I know that I am not technically perfect but the freedom of the course has been fantastic for me as it has allowed me to focus on my personal interests and improve my contextual studies.

Below are the detailed evaluation documents for this final assignment and the course as a whole.

evaluation-assignment-5

course-evaluation-against-criteria

Part 5 Research link

Part 5 Bibliographylink

Part 5 sketchbooklink

photo-references-part-5

In preparation for assessment I wrote a summary document detailing my thought processes for my submission:

assessment-submission

Gallery of submitted work

Project 13: Combination monoprint and linocut (link here)

Project 14: Incorporating chine colle (link here)

Project 15: Four combination & experimental prints (link here)

 

Exercise 15: Plates; Proofing and printing

Print 1

I was initially planning to etch the lino but after I drew on it with stop-out fluid, I thought it would work to create a combination linocut / collagraph and then I could use different hardnesses of rollers to ink.


I used an A4 piece of lino for this part of the print and then a larger A3 sized collagraph plate. For the latter I made the plate by applying thread (alluding to threads of memory) and acrylic medium.

I made some textures plates to overprint with using crumpled paper/ plaster and acrylic medium- which I had to use where there were holes in my choice of board.


With the first prints I felt the texture of the dress was particular successful but I was not happy with the printing of the thread.
I posted this online for a crit on the OCA forum. The views were mixed but one comment really struck me- that it was too illustrative, which I completely agree with. In retrospect I had created the design to closely from the book and hadn’t put enough ‘me’ into it.

I had a thought about how I could improve it and started thinking about traces. The exhibition that I visited last year came to mind along with my trace drawing I did in assignment 1 of the course. I was thinking about line and traces and decided to trace the image of nan, then turning the paper slightly to create a traced image, the result reminded me of a Spirograph. I added this as backdrawing over the design, it created subtle delicate, feathers lines which I feel added interest and moved it a bit beyond the literal.

Print 2

I used two plates the first was a linocut. To create the interesting textures in the dress I overheated the lino so that it crumbled and broke up. To produce the second plate I inked up the first and offset it against a board and piece of card, then cut the correct shape out. I wasn’t too concerned about it lining up perfectly because I feel the slight overhang adds a bit of interest to a print.

I played around with inking a la poupee, first with subtle blue-greys then a pinkish palette.

I preferred the latter and decided to add elements of torn coloured tissue as chine colle.

Print 3 


To produce my map plate I needed to work as big as possible, so that when the map was folded correctly it would still have some impact.
The plate was 40 x 50 cm. I used acrylic medium to create the design. I decided I could ink this as a monotype / collagraph so used brushes, pounces and different hardnesses if roller for the different colours. It was very difficult working st such a large scale when I have quite a small workspace. It took a long time to produce each print but over the course of a printmaking session I had managed to produce one that I was pleased with.

Processed with Snapseed.After a positive crit online I decided to play around with chine colle. I had seen a WW1 film recently “Aces High” (1976) which had maps in the Major’s office- these were black and white with bright pink and blue labels plotting routes. I decided to reference this.

The final version of these was interesting. I liked the quality of the faded face and the rectangles of tissue had technological connotations. It reminded me of metropolis and then I was taken to ideas around the computer as metaphor for memory.

In the end though I decided I would send the previous incarnation to my tutor as the subtle colours are more in keeping with my portfolio as a whole.
For my ‘man:map’ cover I used an inkjet print of my design- printed onto photographic paper and attached to the map. I feel the result is quite successful.

Print 4

For this series of prints I used 2 plates: one for each side. The collagraph side was quite straight forward using thread and acrylic medium. For the lino I stupidly decided to draw the design on the plastic with tippex- this reacted with the vinyl and stayed tacky and did not dry. It was a nightmare to remove- this was my plate before scraping it off completely. I found the distressed plate to be quite appealing.


 

 

 

 

 

I proofed the series in black and white- they worked quite well. I wanted there to be more emotional intensity however, so played with a design incorporating colour on the PC. I wanted the colours to appear raw and hot.

To ink I used the viscosity method- thin ink below, remove areas then thick ink on top which only prints sticks to areas where the thinner ink hand been removed.

The ink mixed together to produce very interesting colours and the ghosts were quite delicate and pretty, in contrast to the initial images.

As an experiment I rolled the remaining ink onto a sheet of paper and was pleased and surprised with the result- the image of the man was slightly smaller and was faded with each roll round. An interesting outcome.

For the postcard side I created a stamp using a small eraser and pressed the inked surface onto a piece of Japanese washi paper. I wanted to mirror the faded effect from the front onto the back with the stamps fading out too.

I was able to use the small shuttlebug embossing machine for the chine colle/ collagraph element of these prints which made the whole process easier. I feel that the effect of the stamp and ink fading away on this side is successful at conveying a narrative in its own right without the need for words so I left it as is.

Exercise 15: Design work

As an attempt to bring all the threads of my practice together, I produced a mind map to aid the process. These are areas that have formed throughout the course: Hauntology; Mind/Memory/Thought; Literature; Head/Figure; Blank faces; War; Ephemera; Archive; Collage; Layers; Line.

Print 1


Focussing on archive, I decided to work from family photos. I had taken on board my tutor’s comments about presenting an overarching narrative in my work, and was considering Virginia Woolf and her application of ‘stream-of-consciousness’ in her novel Mrs Dalloway. In one of the photos my Nan reminded me of the titular character with her ‘hat and gloves’ and I felt a sense of connection between the two elements. I chose to use elements from the novel to weave a narrative in the print- i.e. Woolf’s repeated use of watery references dotted through the pages. Considering previous artists’ works I had looked at I wanted to convey a sense of this woman being overwhelmed and taken over by her thoughts and memories, as she is in the novel. I played with the composition first in my small sketchbook then on the PC, I thought this could make an interesting collagraph relief and linocut.

Print 2

I wanted to continue the above theme of a woman being overtaken by thoughts and memories with my second print. I wanted to reference ephemera in this print, as I had been looking at WWII postcards after my tutor’s suggestion. The war song- “You belong to Me” popped into my head due to the obvious associations. There were also links with Michael Cunningham’s character Laura in the Hours. She is an unhappy housewife in 1950s who feels trapped in her marriage to her husband Dan -a WWII war veteran; so the phrase “You Belong To Me” has feminist connotations also. I like this potential difference of meaning.

Print 3
This came from playing around with an old drawing of Kev and producing a more dynamic sketch. Going back to the novel Mrs Dalloway I was reminded of the character Septimus who was suffering from ‘shell shock’ / PTSD. There are wider issues about mental health in general as my husband has suffered from debilitating depression since his teens and he was hospitalised in his early twenties.

Print 4

This came about by thinking about the author Virginia Woolf and her battles with her own depression. The novel “The Hours” portrays a view about her time when she was writing Mrs Dalloway up to her suicide. I played around with motifs from the book and was inspired by Jasper Johns’ series the seasons.

After initial sketches I played around with the images adding colours and layers.

I felt this last print was not right- not ‘me’ so I chose to revisit this.

Processed with Snapseed. I was inspired by the WWII exhibition, that my tutor had alerted me to, and thought that if I created a set of postcards that would fit with the simulcra theme that I had referred to in my ‘Polaroids’ in exercise 13. Referencing the German expressionist prints I played around looking at War imagery in my sketchbook. I decided to use an image of Kev which tied it into the print earlier.

Processed with Snapseed.

I thought it would be a good idea to have his image on one side and a simulation of the postcard with a stamp on the back. I chose to use a horse as I wanted to reference animals contribution to the war effort. For the writing I planned to use the slogan “Lest we forget”

I thought that I could apply the same technique as Andy Warhol used in ‘Marilyn’ and ink the plate then keep printing until the ink ran out, to represent faded memories.

Print 3 Development

On the back of the above idea I wanted to develop the third print and relating it to war ephemera. I had been looking at maps and incorporated symbols and shapes into the design.

To continue the theme of simulacra I decided to turn this into a physical map with a cover. Initially using OS map as a reference to give the format I broke the picture plane up to incorporate different elements. In keeping with the ephemeral theme I produced a digital collage of collagraph test prints from assignment 4. I feel that the result is quite successful as a piece of design.

Chine colle (continued)

Unfortunately I had a period of illness where I was not able to do anything physical, so the practical work had to take a bit of a back burner. At this time I decided to look closer at the elements of design, particularly the use of colour.

I had downloaded a phone app “Palette” which helped me analyse other artists’ colour palettes. This was a useful exercise in that I realised my preferences are towards colour harmony and a use of a limited / monochromatic range. This programme provides me with a very quick way of analysing colour, allowing me to use a range of subjects as inspiration- images from nature as well as other artists’ work. This will help me have a more considered approach to using colour in the future.

I wanted to keep going with my little girl print because I felt I hadn’t realised its potential. As a nod to Dada I decided to incorporate photographic images into the piece. By flipping the photo I was able to produce a design which suggested absence and referenced the contemporary artists I had previously researched.

To create the chine colle I printed onto Japanese tissue paper in the digital printer by wrapping the tissue over a sheet of A4 copier paper and attaching with double sided tape. As the ink is not pigmented I am aware this will fade in time, but that fits the theme anyway. I knew that the ink would run if I added water, so I used the dry chine colle method and prepped the paper beforehand, with the belief that the glue-backed paper would stick to the damp paper when printing.

When feeling a little better I was able to print. Unfortunately the paper did not stick to the paper when hand burnishing- there was not enough pressure or dampness to the paper, so had to resort to spritzing the tissue with water then moving it onto the lino. There were many failed attempts but I eventually got one print to work.

As a reference to Emily Dickenson’s poem “Pain has an element of blank” (Dickenson, 1924a) I incorporated a subtle monoprint with these words obliquely written in. These words do not read correctly, and just offer a little bit of visual texture. I had run out of tissue chine colle pieces however so couldn’t do anymore and needed to progress with the course. This was the best version produced.

After looking into research around chine colle and collage, I wanted to develop the print further by adding head shaped tissue, referencing Agar’s silhouette collages and Sheridan’s chine colle prints, in which different shapes added completely different effects to her prints.

In my assignment 3 feedback, my tutor recommended I experiment with overheating the lino to create crumbling marks, which I chose to employ here. Incorporating different shapes of chine colle tissue created a new dimension. This was a useful exercise.

I decided to apply a head shape to the girl print. This added intensity and drama. My thoughts turned to ideas around memory and layering. I started to realise a lot of my work is related to this subject matter- being haunted by memories.

Initially I was playing with ideas in my sketchbook. I had a design which incorporated pressed flowers. Unfortunately this idea did not work in practice. I think to do this I would have needed access to a press, because the petals split up when burnished and didn’t stick effectively.

I wanted to retain the head idea and played with a variety of colour options. I was drawn to the blue cooler palette, referencing Kate Donachie. I felt her painting had a soft, ethereal feel.

I had been reading about war ephemera and contemporary artists whose work connects. In her Imperial War Museum cynotypes, Annabel Dover uses pieces of clothing that have personal associations to her grandparents and their links to WW2. Through the technique she has presented the memory of objects.

I was inspired by this and considered my gelatin plate- when objects are placed on the surface they leave an impression- the memory is stored and then transferred onto the paper. My tutor had recommended I revisit feathers after her feedback in assignment 4 and this was an opportunity to do that. I also played around with text on a lino block and pressed this into the plate. These created some interesting textures that I could use as my chine colle.

After a lot of trial and error and managed to produce a couple of reasonable prints. I find it difficult to get a perfect print without a press because the damp paper wrinkled a little when burnishing.

Processed with Snapseed.

I did consider taking further and adding backdrawing after Giacometti’s portraits but decided not to in the end.

Technically I struggled with this part of the course, I know my prints are not perfect but I feel the ideas are stronger conceptually and I am beginning to understand what direction I want to take my work in.