OCA : PRINTMAKING 1
PROJECT 10: EXPERIMENTAL RELIEF PRINTS: CRITICAL STATEMENT
For this exercise I wanted to bring together a number of different techniques learned during the course and combine these with the delicate mark making which had been produced on loin and Westfoam during this section of the course.
Developing the theme
I wanted to develop the theme “Journey”, thinking of this in both physical and spiritual terms. To develop the theme, I took a number of photographs which I had taken on a recent train journey to the highlands of Scotland. The scenery changes from lowland greenery at the beginning of the trip, to a stark mountainous winter landscape as the train travel north. I thought that this provided a way to approach the journey theme although it could have been achieved differently by creating several “frames” in which the subject was a placed. This is something which could be developed at a later stage.
I prepared a number of monoprints using paper masks to create a range of printed base colours, and then used the Westfoam block, scored with fine linocutters to recreate my impression of the mountainous landscape I had observed on the train. I then cut the foam to size to match the dimensions of the glass slab used for the monoprints to allow registration of the layers. The Lino was also cut to size for registration to be carried out.
I experimented with a range of warm and cool colours to assess the impact this had on the mood of the prints and eventually selected a background of opaque pale blue for the sky and opaque pale lemon yellow for the land. How the colours worked over each other was also assessed. A pale cool blue also worked well and could be included in future work to develop the idea of the changing seasons.
It was important to include a figure within the landscape and to find a way of representing the spiritual element of the theme. I based my figure on an acrylic painting which I had used to produce a greeting card. This was drawn directly onto a piece of Lino matched in size with the Westfoam block. I wanted to create a sense of a figure emerging from the darkness into the landscape, creating a contra-jour effect around the figure. Black ink was chosen for the figure to provide maximum contrast with the paler background elements.
Paper choice proved to be critical for the project. I found that thicker cartridge paper did not pick up the very fine tonal marks of the figure made by the Stanley knife. The more ink was added the less well the delicate marks were reproduced in the print. Using fine paper lead to a much more successful print and in the end I decided to print the final piece on this paper, having also printed up a run on the thicker cartridge.
Impact of the Matrix
The Westfoam used for the landscape proved to be problematic as the print runs progressed, with more and detail being lost from the plate as I progressed. In future I would reuse the material but would not consider it suitable for a big print run.
The Lino was very suitable for the use of small fine marks on the smaller scale image which I wanted to use. I loved how I was able to create delicate passages of light on the body and clothing of the figure, although this was easily lost when the print was re-inked many times.
I found it difficult to obtain good coverage with black ink over the mono printed surfaces on thicker cartridge paper. The Lino print worked best on fine paper.
As the project progressed I experimented with the idea of isolating the figure and the butterfly and inking them separately from the rest of the block. I really liked the visual impact that this created but found it technically difficult to achieve a consistent result. It was difficult to achieve good registration and I eventually consigned these prints to the sketchbook as I couldn’t achieve a run of quality prints. The prints work visually and could be mounted and would still work visually.
The print on foil created lovely delicate effects, with the foil picking up the finest detail. I really liked the fact that the layering was obvious, with the underneath colours shine though all layers.
Ideas for further work
• I would like to work into the existing Lino block to producer he figure in colour. Colour layers would be dictated by the flesh tones needed for the skin of the figure. However I liked the mock-up and think that I could overcome this by masking the area where the figure was to be positioned.
• I series of pieces in different colour ways could be created which would give more of a sense of the journey: different times of years/ fantasy landscape/ framing to create a sense of movement
• Changing the setting of the figure and the setting completely for example a singer contra-lit on a stage.
Critical Assessment of Final Prints
• Overall, the biggest problem I had with this exercise was achieving a good result at every stage of the print. It was particularly hard to retain the subtle marks from the Lino over the underlying monoprints if enough ink was applied to the block to cover the lines of the landscape. I tried to overcome this by using a mask in the shape of the figure which I used to leave white of the paper visible where the figure would go
This was only partially successful, as I managed to place it the wrong way round and didn’t notice my error till quite a few prints had been taken. It does add a halo effect, however it detracts from the landscape and I would try to remember to avoid this in future.
• I liked the grainy effect achieved using several layers of colour followed by black but felt that this worked against achieving a print with sharp, clear edges. It may be that full coverage with black ink around the borders of the print would have to be sacrificed to keep good tone within the figure.
• In Print 2/7 the tonal marks on the clothing and hair of the figure are visible but the outer edges of the Lino has only grainy coverage of the blue and yellow.
• In contrast Print 3/7 has good overall coverage of black ink but the tonal marks on the figure have been lost.
• Registration is good on 2/7 with good sharp images of both the figure and the butterfly. 3/7
• In all the prints, the furrow lines of the landscape have been reduced as more prints were taken. The use of a darker colour would have improved this.
• I like the overall visual impact of the prints but can see that problems with technique are making it hard to deliver the initial vision. I do feel that I planned the prints quite carefully but my lack of experience in judging how all stages would impact on each other caused mistakes that detracted from the work.