Category Archives: Project 2: Positive and negative masked monoprints

Project 2: Research: Artists working in Papercutting

Project 2 Research 
Matisse: the Blue Nudes

Blue Nude III, 1952 (gouache on paper), Matisse, Henri (1869-1954) / Musee National d’Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris, France / © 2016 Succession H. Matisse/DACS,London, 112x 73.5 cms. Bridgeman Education Library

Matisse was one of the Fauve groups of artists, known for their use of intense flat colour. He became increasingly interested in the use of papercuts in the later stages of his career following surgery which left him with limited mobility. He worked in a range of graphic media, including linocuts and lithography, producing works which included books (Jazz, 1947), and the commissioned design for the Chapelle de la Rosarie in Vence.
Matisse worked with pre- prepared paper, painted in gauche using precise colours which were directly comparable with those used in the printing industry which would have assisted with reproduction of his work.
He was known to work with a number of assistants who helped prepare the paper which Matisse then used to create his composition.

Blue Nude 111
The work above was one of a series of cut outs created by the artist. The simplicity of the work, and the use of one colour adds to the overall visual impact of the piece is the colour. The artist uses a single blue against a white background, placing the figure centrally, occupying the whole picture plane. This increases the overall impact of the piece. Despite the use of one flat colour, the artist manages to convey the pose perfectly through his chosen medium.
The work is large scale, a factor which would also increase visual impact. The careful placement of the paper pieces makes ideal use of the white space between the paper pieces to define the figure and accentuate the pose.It is known that Matisse made several studies for his able Nudes series.
Matisse creates a 2 strong diagonals in the above work,using the white of the paper. These run across the figure, moving the eye across the whole work, adding to the overall impact of the piece.

Nahoko Kojima:Cloud Leopard and Kiku Flowers

Paper cutting is a medium which has a long history and which spans many countries. . ( )
The earliest known examples of the art form were located in China and date from the 6th Century AD. However the medium spread outwards and became popular in many countries, including: Indonesia, the Filipines,India and Sweden, Africa and Japan.
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An artist whose work interested me was the contemporary Japanese artist, Nahoko Kojima.
Her work Cloud Leopard is a large and complex papercut sculpture cut from one sheet of black paper, which is displayed as an installation suspended above the eyeliner of the viewer. The scale of the work definitely creates visual impact through scale and creates further interest through the suspension of the work in a way which creates a sculptural form allows the viewer to see the work from many angles, creating an almost infinite choice of perspectives from which the viewer can absorb the work.

Washi (2014), Ford Presidential Museum, MI USA

Kiku Flowers, by the same artist, is a collection of 10 Papercuts of smaller scale, ranging from plant and animal forms and decorative masks.. The works appear to be cut from a single sheet of paper, some white, some coloured, displayed against a contrasting background. What is most striking about the work is the combination of complexity in the cut design and the striking simplicity of the overall form of the pieces. They appear to flow across the paper surface on which they are displayed, with many using a diagonal composition. Other works, including a papercut of a Rose is placed centrally on the paper which I feel is less successful than the works placed diagonally.
Comparison with Matisse
In common with the Papercuts of Matisse, Kojima’s work Cloud Leopard uses scale to create visual impact. However, where Matisse uses several pre-cut pieces assembled into his final composition, Kojima prepares the entire work from one single sheet of paper.
In some works, such as Kiku Flowers, and the Marisse Blue Nudes, the artists create final pieces which create impact through the use of a single colour on contrasting paper and make use of diagonal elements in the composition which are pleasing to the eye and create a sense of flow within the work.


Project 2: Positive and Negative Masked Monoprints

Masked Monoprints using 2 colours:


The biggest challenge with this exercise was definitely achieving accurate registration.

After a few failed attempts to registder properly, where the orientation of the positive mask was the biggest problem I tried to work out a method whih allowed me to line up the masks consistently on the paper before printing.

To get to grips with registering the prints, I realised that it was important to make markings which identified the vertical and horizontal axes of the plate and the masks, both positive and negative. First, I marked out the outline of the intended paper using an additional sheet which would be placed beneath the printing plate. The plate itself was outlined in pencil on this sheet.

Vertical and horizontal references were made across the assembled positive and negative masks so that they could be reassembled accurately later.

A few further mistakes later, I realised that I had to add a reminder showing the top and bottom of the plate and printing paper to avoid printing upside down which happened on 2 occasions!

Stretching of the negative mask led to misalignment of the prints. I think the problem was complicated by the fact that the image extended to the edges of the paper. A simpler design might have been easier to begin with. An acetate stencil might have proved more effective and survived multiple printing efforts.

Shere Khan
Shere Khan: Masked monoprints usinf 2 colours;


Shere Khan: Masked monoprint with colours reversed


Shere Khan: Ghost print



Shere Khan: masked monoprint using 2 colours – final print upside down