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.