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.

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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.

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)

 

 

Project 12: Collatype collage prints (Background)

The instructions for this part of the course asks that I work ‘towards a series of representational images.’

My husband recently found a dead yellowhammer on our patio and put it in the freezer knowing that I would be interested in drawing this at some stage. I felt that it would be a useful starting point for this project, with obvious links to hauntology.

Initially I produced a number of sketchbook studies. I was quite affected by the dead bird in front of me. At once shocked and repulsed but then also interested and saddened by the bird’s demise. I think these feelings were in my mind as I produced some quite expressive drawings.

Upon looking back at these I was interested by how the shape of the bird conveyed a sense of loss and sadness.

As I am also interested in archive – combining images from the past with the present, I took some photos of this yellowhammer. I remembered a few years ago we also found an injured bird in our garden and tried to help it recover. My husband had taken a few photos which I could utilise, plus I found a few public domain images on wiki-commons:

Birds collage

From these I produced other sketches. I was particularly drawn to the shapes of the birds and how evocative these were. I had been looking at the work of Prunella Clough, in particular her ‘Primitive Plant’ print. In this I liked the way that she had reduced the subject down to its bare essentials. She was left with the negative space that is ‘there but not there’: absence and presence. I felt that this approach to the subject matter could work well as a series of small images printed intaglio, which I will return to after producing the relief prints.

Project 11: Making a Test block Revisited

Further to the first failed attempt at this I needed to rethink my strategy. Due to illness and financial limitations I am not able to get to a print workshop or access to a press. Luckily my friend has lent me her ‘cuttlebug’ embossing machine which although small has the ability to produce drypoints (See here), so therefore I though it must have enough pressure to produce collagraphs.

I was limited with the plate size – to a maximum of 14 x 18cm which my tutor said was acceptable.

I made 3 plates: 2 more structured as per the instructions and one more organic and free flowing.

Whilst making these I was mindful of using materials that weren’t as dense as my initial trials so used: textured wallpaper; paper; clingfilm; plastic wrap; tin foil; sandpaper; tissue; netting; muslin; fabric; wood glue; feather (imprinted into modelling paste); sand; plaster engraved and scraped; parcel tape; masking tape; sellotape; pressed dried leaves & flower petals; fine fishing wire; embroidery thread; plus cut & tore the surface of the board in places. For the backing I used the back of an old notebook; foam board and canvas board.

It took a few goes and using various different pieces of funky foam to create the correct pressure on the embossing machine. I first inked blocks in relief then played around with viscosity printing using a few different colours of inks with differing consistencies.

 

These provided an interesting set of results. For future projects though I didn’t want to  be limited to a smaller Exif_JPEG_PICTUREsize as I thought it would be too restrictive. I had watched a Youtube video on printing a collagraph by hand. The artist recommended using dampened thinner paper. I decided to go back to using my Japanese Simili paper and was pleasantly surprised by the result.

The first I printed in one colour using a medium firm roller.

Then I decided to use the viscosity method again using 2 different colours with different types of roller: one soft one firm. The results were quite pleasing and effective:

This gave me encouragement that if I used the right materials and thinner paper I could work bigger for the next part of the course.

Evaluation

What went well?

  • Using 2 different types of roller to produced a multicolour print.
  • Certain textures printed particularly well: different types of tape; embroidery thread, wood glue, plaster, sand & sand paper plus cutting into the surface – creating additive and subtractive surfaces on one plate.

What was challenging / didn’t go so well?

  • Initially issues with using thicker paper when printing by hand did not work.
  • The initial plates using thicker organic materials were a huge problem. This meant I needed to redo this project and make new plates which unfortunately ate into my time. At least I now have a better understanding of the process and what will work well for future prints going forward.
  • I struggled with the intaglio inking and process with the ‘press’ at the moment I am unsure whether this is because there is not enough pressure (although it does create a good embossment)

Development?

  • I want to spend some time really getting to grips with the intaglio method of inking at some point in the next project.
  • Having read about using carborundum to create dark tones on the plate I would like to see if that is a possibility with the little cuttlebug machine.

Project 11: Making a Test Block (Part One)

Initially I decided to make two large c. A3 size test blocks using various organic and man-made materials. I used: sticks, dried leaves, ferns, grasses, feathers, tissue paper, fabric, cotton wool,  fishing wire, thread, tissue paper, and masking tape. I used modelling paste to stick these onto a piece of mountboard.

Referring to the notes in the course handbook I dampened paper and made a print via hand burnishing, unfortunately the results were extremely disappointing.

Learning points:

  • I was unable to produce enough pressure to force the paper down between the materials.
  • I need to use lower level materials to get a better result.
  • There needs to be more structure to the plate. Too much texture is overwhelming: it seems that less is certainly more with collagraph.

I need to revisit this exercise in order to try to improve my results.