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.

Project 13: Final Prints

Due to illness I have had a bit of a haitus from working. I am still not great healthwise so the physical printmaking process is a bit of a struggle and so my progress has had to slow down a lot which now means I am eating into my level 2 time. But it is the way it is and I can only focus on one exercise at a time.
The time away from printing has allowed me to look at the work with fresh eyes. I have decided that the brighter pop-inspired colours are not what I want to be using and I have gone back to the monochrome blues of earlier to print my final pieces. 

I had issues with the second design- my father as a boy- because the background looked a little odd- so I decided to remove a large area and just leave the rug as the lino part.

Initially I was working on delicate tissue paper but then had the idea to create ‘polaroids’ which fit in with the research into WW1 postcards and using ephemeral references- this seemed to fit, explaining the narrative well.

As a final thought I initially considered presenting the images together on a notice board to emphasise the throw away quality a fellow OCA student recommended using a page from a photo album- I decided to keep the torn edges in place to emphasise the theme.

What worked well?

I feel the three images hang together well as a series and do carry a sense of narrative, reflective of the hauntology theme.

I am pleased that I thought of creating Polaroids which does work with the concept. My friends idea of using the photo album sleeve is interesting. I need to consider whether to use it at assessment- I suppose there needs to be a balance between the throw away theme and the artwork being presented professionally. This is something I would like my tutor’s guidance on.

What didn’t work so well?

The image of Dad as a boy was difficult to get the background to work when printed as lino, so I decided to cut that away and leave only the rug area showing. This meant the first two images were mainly monotype and only subtle areas of lino – possibly not entirely in line with the requirements of the brief, but taking my tutor’s comments on board about pushing the boundaries I hope that this is ok.

Using the thicker photographic paper made it difficult to get a thick even print for the third image, so instead I blended the ink with a cotton bud. Actually I feel this has worked quite well and created an interesting atmosphere that again is in keeping with the theme.

There are some imperfections around the edges of the print- which is probably to do with the more haphazard nature of the monoprint process. I was able to use the embossing machine for the monotype element which allowed the brush marks and textures to show. This could be seen as an issue but I rather like that and feel it is in keeping with my intentions.

I chose to write place names and dates on the bottom of the “photos” to add to the throw away quality- I am not sure I made the right decision. Does it cheapen the overall effect and look a bit amateur? This is something I need to think about. Again it is about getting the balance right between my concept and producing professionally presented work. 


For the next set of works I want to continue with the use of found images. I would like to continue using monochromatic palettes but using different hues. Chine colle could work really well in regard to the connections with ephemera.

Project 13: Further design work

In response to my tutor’s feedback I am trying to incorporate research into my practice so there is a stronger relationship and connection between the two. Looking at the work of Luc Tuymans in my sketchbook I can see some parallels- the use of subtle colours and distortions of found imagery.
I wanted to continue working with the theme of associated memories / thoughts about my father and used a found image of him as a young boy for the initial monotype. This worked well when I focussed on the tonal areas.

Needing to consider how I could incorporate linocut I copied the image of the boy a number of times and experimented with different backgrounds.

I had been looking at the paintings of Essam Marouf and like the contrast of the dark flat background against the coloured portraits. I decided a plain background looked the best here.

Further research on Pinterest led me to exploring how artists have employed negative space to depict absence and loss. I had the idea of using a picture of my mum’s best friend who had died early. I quite liked the idea, but felt it wasn’t in keeping with this set of images depicting Dad. It is something that I will come back to when I am on the next project though.

Instead I started to play around with some family photos from a holiday in Wales. My father was there- in the image, yet I have very few real memories of being with him- again thinking about that idea if there but not there- present but absent.

I came across some screen prints of Marilyn by Richard Hamilton. I was initially drawn to them by the colours and then after reading about them further meanings became clear- how the actress had ‘attacked’ these images with nail polish, nail files or scissors to obliterate her own image. The meaning behind was at odds with the prettiness of the colours, which I found interesting.

I had a play around with adding different colours to the photos and to my previous print designs just to try something different out, but I wasn’t convinced that these ‘pop’ colours worked within this context. 

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.