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.

Painted monoprint from life: Watersoluble crayons and inks

Caran D’ache neocolor ii

I wanted to draw something from life using these sticks and see if they printed successfully.

A student-led facebook sketch club that I belong to had a topic of reflections to use as a starting point so I chose a glass of water. I knew it would be hard but thought I won’t improve unless I practice. After some quick sketches in my sketchbook I produced a drawing using a indigo blue w/s crayon on mylar plate. After soaking a sheet of HP w/c paper in water I printed. I should have perhaps blotted the paper more thoroughly because the paint did run a little.

Exif_JPEG_PICTUREThis provided a reasonable result and is a very quick and easy way of printing drawings that I will come back to in the future. Perhaps I could use this method as a starting point and then overprint with other types of ink to create a varied layering effect.

Watersoluble inks on Gelli Plate

I masked off part of my round gelli plate using a paper-frame for these prints. I just wanted to play with the materials so didn’t consider too much what I painted.Firstly I continued with the glass theme.

Next I just looked for simple, humble objects that were in the house: waste paper bin, bowl and spoon, and toilet roll. They are not the accurate of drawings but I do like the effect of the ink on the plate.

Using a gelatin plate seems to be a good way of using watersoluble paints and inks and I am frustrated that I bought a round one instead of square – because of this it makes registering the plate, and frame and paper a logistical nightmare to build up layers.

I have read that you can make your own plate from household gelatin and glycerine. I need to look into costs but hopefully this is something I can do as this technique lends itself for easily and quickly building up layers of texture.

Monoprint from life: Oil-based inks

Portrait of Mum

The first attempt of working from life using oil-based ink was a quick sketch of mum in oil inks. This was an impromptu exercise, so I didn’t really consider the composition. She was sat at the opposite end of the room and her feet were hidden behind the table, so they are cut off – which weakens the final print. That aside I quite liked the result – particularly the colours.
The paper I used for this was Fabriano Accademia 120gsm cartridge and I had burnished it with a soup spoon.

Still Life

When I got home I decided to have a go at a monochrome still life with the oil inks. I set up two objects on a table in my front room: a pair of glasses and a bird skull. After producing some quick thumbnails of the composition I decided the skull wasn’t working so then swapped that with an empty pill packet.

I quite liked the effect of the glasses shadow on the surface. I initially used the ink thinly in areas to create a range of tonal values, unfortunately these tonal changes didn’t transfer. I was very disappointed with the first print. I then mixed some greys and added thee for tonal variation. The print pulled better but not as clean as I had liked.
This was a different experience to being at mum’s as the print had transferred quite well there. I was using different paper so thought that was be the problem, which I would need to resolve next session.

Exif_JPEG_PICTUREI wanted to produce a monoprint of the bird skull and so decided to use a reductive technique. I rolled a thin layer of paint over the plate and used various implements: rag, brushes, and cotton buds; to remove the ink. This time I used a sheet of Fabriano Accademia 120gsm and burnished like mad with various implements: brayer, wooden spoon, bottom of a jam jar, and heavy glass candle holder. The result was pretty woolly and not as clean as I would have liked. The ghost didn’t come out at all.

Exif_JPEG_PICTUREThe next print I used an additive process for a self portrait. This time I chose to print onto 80gsm Japanese Simili paper. Again the results were disappointing.

I could not understand why I was not able to replicate the results that I had achieved at Mum’s house. There were a number of factors that I needed to consider:

• Perhaps I used extender mixed with the ink.
• Perhaps the ink was applied more thickly.
• Her house isn’t as drafty as mine.
• I am set up sat down in the sitting room, whereas I was stood over her dining room table to burnish – perhaps this gave me extra force and pressure as I could lean down onto the paper.

Looking forward:
• I plan to set myself up with a higher work table in the spare room and this will give me the ability to lean into the burnishing, it is also less drafty in there.
• I also want to be more focussed and scientific in my approach – take note of how much ink I am using and what mediums I am mixing it with.
• On the facebook forum they mentioned that if I wanted a crisper print, it is a good idea to dampen the paper – this is something I hadn’t really considered through this whole process (other than when working with watercolour / gouache) so that is also something I need to try.
• Other people recommended trying thinner or proper Japanese papers for monoprinting by hand as they tend to absorb more ink. This is something I need to seriously consider.

Painted monoprint from life: Watercolour

I was staying at Mum’s and was looking for a source to draw and print. She had some colourful flowers that I thought would be a useful starting point. I decided to produce this first still life print in watercolour.

• Firstly I produced some quick drawing in sketchbook – trying to focus on composition. Design is such an important part of the process and is an area that I am weak on.
• I traced the larger drawing and used that as a guide underneath my mylar plate. Then followed the process: use fairy liquid as a base, let that dry; apply watercolours; let them dry; print onto soaked hp w/c paper.
• This technique produced some interesting textures and again I was surprised by the strength of the colours.watercolour
• The final print was not really successful though – it was a bit flat. Perhaps if I had paid closer attention to shadows that would have helped. Also the subject matter and colour are a bit twee and not really me. But a useful first attempt.

Experiments in mark-making pt.2

Adding colours:

I wanted to use different colours so that I knew which technique was attributed to each mark.

Red-orange – used palette knife – too thick and oily
Blue-green – round brush – drier subtler mark
Yellow – large flat brush – smooth & textured marks

-Still not getting the mix of oil to ink right.
– Further mark-making experiments using different papers. Cheap lining paper had an interesting texture. Smooth paper is better for cleaner prints.

Further mark-making experiments:

• Used shapers to remove ink –provided interesting results.
• Sponges to apply ink – good for creating texture.
• Very large brush – dominant on the A4 plate – liked the visible marks.
• Layering colours on top of each other – need more practice at this – possibly need to use extender to make ink transparent and also probably need to apply more thinly. I will return to this technique at a later stage.
• Had a quick play with backdrawing – like the quality of line produced. A printmaker friend of my Mum’ recommended I ink a plate of thin mylar and then use a drawing implement to push the ink onto the paper. I tried this and liked the result – it offered a different quality of mark. I know I will come back to these techniques later on in this part of the course, but it was good to get some experience of what I possible.
• I had also read that you can print watercolour or gouache paint from a mylar plate onto dampened hot-pressed watercolour paper. The instructions advised to use watercolour straight from tube. I was really surprised by how strong the transfer was in terms of colour. I wasn’t particularly impressed with the result but I liked the potential that this technique offered.
• Neocolor ii watersoluble crayons using the above technique worked well, as did gouache.
• Watersoluble inks – working very small –A6 size produced some interesting results. Working at a larger scale I found it difficult to get a strong transfer as the ink dries very quickly even with retarder added. Adding water to the plate created some interesting textures and drips. Realised the effect is much more subtle and softer than oils. Interesting how less saturated colours print a lot darker and blacker on paper.
• I had a quick play with overprinting with w/s inks– very hard to roll the ink out onto the plate as it dries very quickly.
o Better for textured effects.
o Need to be careful not to apply ink too thickly
o Overprintng could work with these inks – need to carefully plan colours, also need to get some extender to create more transparent effects.
• Used w/s inks on gelli plate. It was easier to get a good transfer and the plate retained interesting textures from the brush strokes.

Experiments in Mark-making pt 1

From previous study with the OCA I have found that taking extra time to practice making marks and trying a variety of media and processes can pay dividends throughout the course so I took some time over this exercise.

Gelatin printing: Using 8” gelli plate & acrylic paint

Black open acrylics on copier paper.

• Good transfer quality.
• Good for creating interesting textures – the plate retains the texture of the objects well and the ghost print provides an almost photographic quality of detail.
• Regret getting a circular format as is quite limiting compositionally.
• Like moonlike forms – possible inspiration for future work.
• Hard to register circle on paper – need to give this more thought and preparation in the future.
• Like reductive method – brushstrokes very clear and visible.

Colour: fluid acrylics

• More fluid paint interesting textures as paper is pulled from the surface.
• Dries very quickly with no medium added – not as clean transfer.
• If thin paint with water, beads up on surface.
• If thin paint with a little open thinners works better.
• Tried using a small rectangular mask over the plate and overprinting – gives scope for greater versatility.
• Used titanium white acrylic with no medium over surface – rolled over surface and quickly pulled a print – old bit of paint from previous printing came through – like this a lot.

Using caligo safe wash oil relief inks on Perspex plate.

Monochrome: blue /black palette

• Added oil to ink – need to be careful not to add too much as it leeches through the paper and the brushstroke marks are not visible.
• Applying ink using different brushes – particularly like the texture from bristle brushes.
• Enjoyed using cotton bugs and kitchen roll to remove ink in certain areas.
• First attempt printed on cartridge paper , burnished with brayer – liked the result.
• Closer inspection – would prefer cleaner print – a bit patchy in places, need to take more care with burnishing.
• The ghost didn’t come out at all.
• Rolled a thin layer of ink over plate and removed ink with cotton buds, baby wipes & kitchen roll. Quite liked the plate but it didn’t transfer particularly well. Possibly removed too much ink – maybe I need to be more subtle with this technique. It has great potential for creating atmosphere.
• I drew into the inked plate with the end of a brush – the result was very subtle, the lines were not clear to see.
• Chose to do backdrawing over next ghost print, which worked quite nicely.
• Final bit of ink on plate – chose to use a spoon to burnish and this came out ok.

Oil inks have great potential. They stay wet longer meaning there is a reasonable transfer.

Next steps:
Like to try a range of colours and papers with these inks. For these initial experiments I used a range of blues which has made it difficult to distinguish each mark, I will use 3 contrasting colours next.