Project 4: Image 4: Chickens

There were many influences that fed into this print. I had been looking at chickens in my sketchbook, which led to images for the masked project. I did not feel that the earlier work was particularly successful or representative of me as an artist and wanted to tackle the subject in a more considered way.

The recent exhibition “Flock Together” was inspiring in the way that they had approached the subject of sheep. Initially using film footage and then taking stills from this alongside gps information to create largescale drawings.

Other artists that I had previously looked at in my visual log were Alan Storey, Nancy Spero and William Turnbull who used movement of the figure in their prints.

print 1I decided that in order to capture the real movement from the animals I would need to use photography as a basis for the work. Two chickens had ‘escaped’ into our garden and I thought it would be an opportune moment to take some shots as they moved about on our patio. 2015-12-27 13.09.25In total I took 153 shots (see sample -left) as they moved about and then decided to trace over each frame to produce a drawing.

From looking at the shapes of the chickens in various poses I produced some plastic positive and negative masks which I thought I could layer up on the gelatin plate with the intention of backdrawing over to create a sense of movement.

Challenges:
• Not yet comfortable with the colour separation process of printing. This meant that I mixed up different colours and in overprinting them they quickly turned black. The ghosts were useful though.
• I thought that I could backdraw white ink over the darker surfaces but this did not work.
• Composition was a difficulty, I was trying to create something leasing to the eye but my efforts were not 100% successful.

I decided to post my efforts onto the student site online crit page here.

I was encouraged to take the initial trace drawing further into the print process and so repeated the gelatine print process.

The lines in the drawing reminded me of the thread that I used in parts of the texture exercises, there are also certain connections between thread and time which I thought would be appropriate to incorporate with the layers of masks. In some I chose not to include the chicken masks also.

After producing a number of prints I decided to backdraw over the back using a enlarged copy of the initial drawing stuck on the back as a guide and alternating between blue and black inked plates.

Exif_JPEG_PICTUREI found that this print in particular was successful.  I was pleased with my use of subtle  colour and how I was starting to get an understanding of creating atmosphere in the printmaking process. I was also pleased with the content behind the image.

Unfortunately because I am using a jig the gelatin plate printed smaller than the Perspex plate so there are plate marks around some of them that impact over the quality of the print.

I am also concerned that I was influenced very heavily by the process from the “Flock Together” exhibition, and wonder whether this is considered ok to do, or whether it is pure mimicry which devalues the work somewhat.

Generally, though I am pleased with the result and feel that this has been a successful end to this part of the course.

 

Adding Texture

Adding materials to a gelatin plate

I felt that using oil based inks for this would be a bit messy so I decided to work with watersoluble inks for this exercise.

I had enjoyed playing around with my circular gelli plate before and wanted to make a large rectangular version. I found a recipe online using gelatine and glycerine. I followed the instructions, my only issue was that our spirit level was clearly faulty and the plate set at an angle. This also meant that I couldn’t wipe the bubbles away from the surface, but considering that I was deliberately trying to create texture it was not a major concern for these experiments.

Initially I used a variety of household items to create patterns in the surface and layered the ink to produce interesting results. I found building up many layers of ink thinned with extender to increase transparency worked better than using thicker more opaque ink. It was a lot easier to get a good transfer with the gelatin plate – hand pressure was all that was needed meaning I could use cheaper cartridge paper for the prints.

I found registration a bit of a problem and the edging was a bit messy so made a frame out of plastic that I could place onto the plate to create cleaner edges. I still was using my eye for registration which was difficult initially but improved with practice.

After Louise Bourgeois

I had been browsing the works of Louise Bourgeois recently – particularly her drawings and used some of these as inspiration for a set of textural prints. The initial print was a plain orange which I then overprinted with black that I had imprinted with different materials, to create various imagined landscapes. Through this process I found that I enjoyed the accidental effects that occurred and were out of my control. I found this preference during the painting 1 course also, naturally I like that freedom and allowing the medium to do the work. My difficulty is getting the composition and structure right in a picture so that it looks like a work of art – this I hope will improve through this printing course as I focus more on the design elements.

Using texture with masks

Finally I wanted to work using my ‘falling’ stencil to build up interesting layers and texture. I had been reading about the artist Alberto Giacometti recently and also the idea of existentialism. Another tendency of mine is to be autobiographical and possibly Freudian in my approach to the art I produce. I am interested in the psychological aspects of art and how very often the work I create reflects what is going on in my life. I believe this figure particularly reflects the imbalances and state of flux that my life is in currently. Due to getting ill then losing my job and career I have suffered a bit of an identity (or “existential”) crisis. The phrase “Who Am I?” seems to be a preoccupation so I decided to use these words as part of this print – and created a stencil using these letters and overlaid these with the text.

I enjoyed this process and I was generally pleased with the result. The writing is oblique and only alludes to the underlying meaning which I think works well. The layering too is successful. On the negative side I am not sure what I think about my colour choices. I do like the colours and I suppose they add a different dimension. I think subconsciously I had images of Gary Hume’s candy colours in my mind – so there is a contemporary reference point, but perhaps these work against the general ideas and mood I am trying to convey. Perhaps the colours soften the blow or perhaps they are too far removed? This is something to consider as I progress.

Using solvents

After researching artists that use texture I wanted to have a little play adding solvent to the plates to see what effects I could produce.

1st attempt: Using watersoluble iExif_JPEG_PICTUREnks on a Perspex plate, water as solvent.

• Not successful – large splodge of ink
• Water dried in some areas and not others, disappointing effect.

2nd attempt: Oil-based ink and using alcohol.

• 1st print – droplets printed darker- wetter
• Ghost: really like the effect. Reminiscent of organic forms growing.
• Have recently been looking at Jean Dubuffet’s “Les Phenomenes” series of lithographs and the ghost print here reminds me of these.
• I find these effects of chance, these happy accidents that occur, very appealing. I am not yet sure how to embrace them and use them in a main piece of art yet but that is something I would like to consider as I develop.