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Category Archives: Stage 5 P
Yorkshire Sculpture Park exhibition – Uncommon Ground : Land Art in Britain 1966-1979
My overall impression of this exhibition was that it was very 70’s! Making pictures by burning card with a magnifying glass for 5 hours (Roger Acking “Five hour cloud drawing, 1980”), filming the lighting of fires in grids (Anthony McCall “Landscape for fire, 1972”), photographs on walks (Richard Long & Hamish Fulton), etc. It would be interesting to know how many of these artists are continuing with similar work today or whether they have moved into new fields.
Andy Goldworthy’s images (e.g. “snowball, 1979”, “Black (soil covered) snowball, 1979” or “Forked Twigs in Water – Bentham, 1979”) are very distinctive and obviously his work. Whilst they do show his style, they do seem less perfected / beautifully photographed than his later work.
Tony Cray “New Stones – Newton’s Tones, 1978” is a surprisingly beautiful work given that it is made out of plastic debris, but the colour arrangement (in the approximate sequence of colours in the spectrum of white light) and the arrangement of the items in a perfect rectangle make the piece work well. He is also making an obvious statement of ecological concern by using plastic rubbish sources from along the banks of the Rhine neat to his home.
I also particularly liked John Hillard’s “Across the Park, 1972” which is a series of 8 photographs framed in pairs one above the other. The top photograph of each pair is the same section of a photograph of a man walking, the bottom photograph of the pair reveals more of the scene below, to the right, above and to the left of the man. The overall effect of which was very clever and brought a smile to my lips!
I decided to explore abstract images in this project as I had not done much in this area so far on the course.
I started out with some sketchs of shapes, which developed into this drawing:
I tried a few colour combinations in my sketchbook, but the only one which seemed to work well was the green on a yellow-red rainbow background:
I decided I would experiment further with colours when it came to printing.
Mono print backgrounds used:
Scrunched tissue paper
Ribbons pressed in
With the lino, I either printed a single colour or rainbow rolled the lino block.
With the three chosen for the assignment submission:
I looked for some examples of good use of chine collé in printmaking.
I started out looking through the printmakers council website, but with little success, although Sarah Garvey’s print ‘TANGLED UP IN BLUE’ monoprint and chine colle’ which I had looked at before did stand out again.
Looking further I found the following print from ‘DawnR@6’ (real name unknown) which makes good use of chine collé:
Then I came across Cybèle Young who does some very interesting work. These two prints in particular worked well for me due to their simplicity:
Then some work of Nicki Dennett whose website doesn’t allow links to individual images, but a number of the prints in this gallery use chine collé:
And finally another artist Liz Toole who uses simple single colour chine collé to good effect:
As with some of the prints looked at in the research, I thought I would try adding colour to an existing print. So I started with my small single colour linocut of a man at Kilnsey Show from project 6:
I cut tissue paper in blue for the sky and green for the grass, inked up the block and added the tissue paper, pasted it and printed. Result = tissue paper very well stuck to the lino block! That was with diluted PVA, so I tried again with the cornflour paste. Same result! I’m guessing the problem was that I was applying it to too dense an area of ink and the stickiness of the ink was stronger than the glue.
The only other option I could see was to add the tissue paper to an un-inked block, print, then print over with the ink.
I tried this with some success:
This worked on the thicker paper, but gluing the tissue paper to the very thin Hosho paper distorted the paper too much.
At the same time as trying the failed attempt of the above print, I tried the opposite – applying the tissue paper to an area which wasn’t inked at all. My idea for the design of this print came from a quote from an anonymous poem by the Mapuche tribe in Chile – “in this soil dwell the stars”. I sketched out a triptych, initially having the words on the first and last blocks. Then drew in shooting stars in the sky area, rounding them off as they looked odd, then gradually changing them into seeds which looked better and fitted in well with the phrase.
The idea for the first block was to cut out the words, use a stencil to ink up the bottom half in brown, then add tissue paper and metal leaf and print. Result = tissue paper not stuck down. My start in chine collé was not going well!
So, I came to the conclusion that (as detailed in the course notes), there needed to be a background colour to give the tissue paper something to adhere to. Then the print over the top of the tissue paper needed to have something there, but not too dense an area of ink (as was the case with the last stage of the reduction cut lino used in the course notes example). So I modified the design of my block and tried again.
First I printed a light grey background using the uncut block. Then I tried two methods:
1) Adding the tissue paper to an un-inked block, pressing onto the paper, letting it dry, then overprinting
This one worked OK
A full covering of tissue paper also worked, although maybe it should have gone wider to provide a border?
In this one the line between the tissue paper and the printed area doesn’t line up very well. Maybe best to leave an overlap?
Adding metal leaf was a disaster! It took me three attempts to get the metal leaf to stick to the paper in the first place as it was so fragile and hard to place. In the end, the only way I could get it onto the paper was to stick a larger area of leaf to the paper first (you can see this under the tissue paper), then add the tissue paper surround afterwards.
When I came to print it though, the ink pulled the metal leaf from the paper. Arghh!!
2) Inking up the cut block, laying over the tissue paper and printing
This worked better than the same design glued to the paper first as it lines up better and having much less ink on the tissue paper meant that it stuck to the paper and not to the block this time.
More experiments with metal leaf
I tried out some different types of glue with metal leaf, figuring that as it was almost impossible to cut and place it accurately, I would draw the shape on the paper, paste the paper and stick the metal leaf to it.
The size gave the best and flattest adhesion to the paper, but it did colour the paper which was then visible in the areas where the metal leaf did not stick – a second coat and re-application of metal leaf might solve this though? PVA was the best at giving a more even coverage.
The final results – not quite as much of a disaster as before, but not a success either:
Well I tried, but I think I will leave my experiments with metal leaf there!
Final prints (without metal leaf!):
Final? Well it works, but it has become rather boring now. Thinking back to the research and how some of the artists had used roughly cut shapes to add splashes of colour, I decided that adding colour to the seeds might work better and had one last go:
I also tried a couple of other prints using chine collé. First of all I cut a lino block of a close up (imagined) map which I planned to print on top of a wider map view from a road atlas. The second block was an outline of corn which I planned to print in front of a rainbow rolled sunset with tissue paper sun:
For the map print:
After printing the first of these, I realised that I should have left a border around the edge, so I tried to get ink into the cut areas to give a better block feel:
And for the corn print:
I also thought I’d try some different corn prints using an orange background and yellow / pinkish red tissue paper on top:
There is obviously plenty of room to play around with this printmaking method, but I must move on to the final project before my 2 year deadline runs out!
I enjoyed doing the figure print in Project 10, so I decided to explore this further. To get a series, my thinking was to capture expressions/emotions and use these as a basis for the prints.
Some sketches from life drawing classes which I did with these lino blocks in mind:
It was going to be easy to get “calm”, or “sad” from a life drawing session, but a model wasn’t going to stand in a position of “angry” or “happy”, as it would be too difficult to hold for any length of time. I also realised that the face was going to need to be big enough to see the features to be able to do some expressions.
I decided therefore to do a series of self-portraits with different expressions.
all straight lines. Triangles?
Slashes of colour?
all sweeping curved lines
Light blue/dark blue
Violet? Yellow/orange rainbow rolled
Draw in curves/spirals?
‘Broken glass’ background
Dripped red? On yellow with dark blue print
Hands in mouth? Mouth open?
Print lino twice miss-aligned?
The use of line for shading works really well in these images by Mark Rowden:
I could possibly try a dark background print and white linoprint on top using this method?
Or Dirk Hagner’s work:
These two look sad:
I love this one:
Finally Chris Pig does some fantastic portrait work:
I love the atmosphere in this linocut. Maybe try this for the calm print?
I could try doing this in a cubist style like these:
I liked this idea, but decided that I didn’t have the time to explore this sufficiently to produce this print. Also, it would result in one print being wildly different from the others which would seem to go against the brief of a series.
The bottom left image on this site works well for this – http://www.artofmarina.com/
I started out working on ‘Happy’ and ‘Angry’. As it was going to be difficult to pose with a fixed expression, I set up a photo-shoot with myself, resulting in these images and sketches:
Rather than try to paint 20 different options for each expression, I worked on them in Photoshop to establish how to work them with the backgrounds. Some of this process is shown below:
Deciding whether to cut the light or dark areas + border options (curved option decided against)
Background image option & texturing
Images using a rainbow rolled print as a background to work out orientation
Deciding whether to cut the light or dark areas
Final background option
Plate with masking tape used to mask the areas which were not to be printed:
Print planning continued
I decided that the other two blocks should be white prints on darker backgrounds, using some of the influences of the research mentioned above. So after mulling over various options for the other 2 prints, I settled on ‘Fear’ and ‘Sad’ and took some more photos and made some more sketches:
For this background, I thought I would try using a background of yellow with thinned red ink splattered on and run down it to look like blood. When I came to do this, the ink was still too thick and when I printed it, the red areas merged into each other a lot, but I still liked the result:
Testing the print options on this background:
I changed my mind with this and decided that ‘white’ with fright would be more appropriate and would go better with representing the light areas of the face. I also decided to texture the lino with saw marks:
Well the colour for this print was going to be blue, but I was struggling to think of how to do the background. A textured option would be easy and would probably work well, but was it interesting enough? Maybe three shades of blue might work, a plain background, followed by a print from tissue paper, followed by the lino print?
For lack of any other inspiration, I went for this idea. I printed a plain medium blue background, then a darker blue tissue paper print. Unfortunately it didn’t provide very much contrast so didn’t quite give the effect I was hoping for.
‘Happy’ was the first print to be completed in 3 versions:
The chine collé print didn’t work as I used insufficient pressure on the edge of the tissue paper. The plain background worked well, but the rainbow rolled version was the best print of the three.
Unfortunately this print was damaged due to being posted to my tutor whilst the ink was still wet:
The replacement print didn’t have quite as good ink coverage and was rainbow rolled red – yellow which didn’t work quite as well as the orange – yellow:
‘Fear’ was the next to be finished. I was really pleased with the background so I was keeping my fingers crossed that it would work out well. The white didn’t print as dense I had hoped and the textured surface didn’t show up very much. I also got a grey line around the print from the black pen I used to draw the design on the lino. Despite all these changes, I am really pleased with the result:
I did try this print again to see if I could improve on the saw marks. However, I needed so much ink on the lino to get a dense white print that making these deeper did not have much effect as the ink filled them in:
Next came ‘Sad’, a couple of versions which didn’t work fully:
And one which did:
And last but not least, ‘Angry’:
This print was also damaged due to being sent to my tutor whilst still wet:
The replacement print is not quite as dense a colour, but a definite improvement on the damaged print:
Overall I am very happy with the results of these prints.
Assignment 5 asks for a selection of prints from projects 13-15.
Contents of my submission
Task 1 (Project 13)
3 combination mono and linoprints.
Choice of subject and colours
For these prints I decided to use an abstract image as I had not explored this area much so far on the course. The lino design was developed from sketches of different shapes and whilst I had no fixed idea in mind when I started out, it has resulted in a design which looks aboriginal in origin.
Once I had my lino design, I tried out some colour combinations in my sketchbook, then experimented further when trying different mono printed backgrounds.
The prints chosen for submission are:
- Rainbow rolled lino block on top of a secondary print from a plain brown background with ribbons placed on it (and removed for this print). Zerkall paper.
- Rainbow rolled lino block on top of a green tissue paper textured background. Somerset Newsprint paper.
- Green lino block print on top of a rainbow rolled background. Fabriano Rosapina paper.
Three clean prints of an abstract lino block on a mono print background using some interesting textures and methods of inking the blocks (although maybe a bit too much of a focus on rainbow rolling). The background print with ribbons, whilst an interesting texture, does detract somewhat from the design of the lino block. The rainbow rolled background is maybe too bright to work with the aboriginal theme of the print. The tissue paper background provides an interesting but neutral texture background which makes the lino print stand out.
Task 2 (Project 14)
Series of prints which incorporate chine collé techniques.
Choice of subject and colours
After a long period of experimentation with this technique, I ended up with a number of different prints using different lino blocks.
‘Kilnsey Show’ – Re-use of a lino block from project 6 with tissue paper added to give colour to the sky and grass. Zerkall paper.
‘Cornfield sunset’ – Continuing my obsession with rainbow rolling, this print used the outline of corn in front of a rainbow rolled sunset background, with a tissue paper white sun. Zerkall paper.
‘In this soil’ – The idea for this design came from a quote from an anonymous poem by the Mapuche tribe in Chile – “in this soil dwell the stars”. It was intended to make use of metal leaf under the ‘seed’ design but, despite repeated attempts to make it work, I couldn’t get it to stick without the print pulling it off the paper. Saunders Waterford paper.
Not so much a ‘series’ of prints in this case (apart from the ‘in this soil’ triptych), but a wide ranging set of prints using the chine collé technique.
‘Kilnsey Show’ – The addition of chine collé works well with this block and makes the print work better than the original version. The tissue paper does however create some miss-alignment between the cut tissue paper and the lino block as it is not possible to get it perfectly aligned.
‘Cornfield sunset’ – A simple design which perhaps lacks a bit of imagination. The lino is also not perfectly aligned with the background.
‘In this soil’ – Changing to tissue paper from the intended metal leaf actually improved the design, as the roughly cut tissue paper loosens up the design which had become a bit staid. They work together well as a triptych, but the lack of variation in the ‘seed’ area could do with more development.
Task 3 (Project 15)
Series of 4 contrasting prints on a theme
Choice of subject and colours
The theme I chose was ‘expressions of emotions’ using self-portrait sketches, both to offer me a challenge in working out how to depict these, and because I enjoy figure/portrait sketching.
Researching the subject revealed that there are very few emotions humans can easily identify. I brainstormed a number of options with colour / pose options, before deciding on these four:
The designs for these were planned out using a mixture of sketches, Photoshop and experimentation with different backgrounds. Having created the first two lino blocks cutting away the light areas, I decided to vary the other two by cutting away the dark areas.
‘Happy’ – Chosen as an easy expression to recognise, with a smiling face. Printed in recognisably ‘happy’ colours of purple against a rainbow rolled yellow to red background, with ‘star’ texture added to the lino block. Zerkall paper.
‘Sad’ – Chosen to go as the opposite of the print above. Not quite as easy to recognise, but with the head on the hand and down turned mouth, hopefully obvious enough. The colours chosen were all blues and a plain background with added texture from a darker blue tissue paper print on top. The lino block was cut using lots of curved lines. Zerkall paper.
‘Angry’ – Again, chosen as an easy expression to recognise and a fun one to depict. Red and black colours were chosen, with slashes of dark red against a lighter red background achieved using masks and a lino block cut using hard straight lines. Zerkall paper.
‘Fear’ – Chosen as an interesting expression to try to portray, using a self-portrait of me with hands in my open mouth and wrinkled forehead. The background was trying to represent splattered blood, using a plain yellow background with thinned out red ink dropped on it and run down the plate. White was chosen to print the lino block in. Arches paper.
‘Happy’ – A mostly crisp and clean print. The rainbow rolling could perhaps have been more graduated, but I didn’t have a roller big enough and had to do this with two rollers, one just for yellow, the other with the rainbow rolled yellow – red. The original print for this worked better in yellow – orange, but unfortunately it was damaged in the post when sent to my tutor due to still being wet.
‘Sad’ – The least successful print of the four I think, as the background didn’t work out as I had planned. The plan was for a mid-blue plain print with dark blue texture from a tissue paper print, but it ended up just looking like a plain blue background.
‘Angry’ – A bold and powerful image reminiscent of a propaganda advert. The original print had a much denser colour, but was sent off to my tutor whilst the print was still wet and suffered because of this. The replacement print is more mottled, but is an improvement on the damaged print.
‘Fear’ – This would have worked better with a very dense white face, however the white ink will not print much denser than this. The background didn’t work out as it was envisioned, but the red splodges give an equally interesting background as the planned image of dripping blood.
Demonstration of technical and visual skills
Materials: I have used a variety of papers during this stage. I could have experimented further with more different types of chine collé, but was put off by my unsuccessful attempts using metal leaf.
Techniques: I have used a wide range of techniques for these prints, although I could probably have experimented more with them to see what they had to offer.
Observational skills, Visual awareness & Design and compositional skills: I think my colour and composition choices have all worked well. I could have done more colour experiments in my sketchbook or on test prints before committing to the final prints. Also, whilst I have worked more on the initial designs in my sketchbook, this could be developed further.
Quality of outcome
Content: The prints are all clean and crisp, with good registration for the majority of them.
Application of knowledge: I set out to use as many of the techniques I had learnt in the final prints and think I have achieved this.
Presentation of work in a coherent manner: This blog is the record of my work, with my accompanying sketchbook.
Discernment: Some of the prints for task 1 do not work together as well as they could, and those for task 2 could be more adventurous. I think the composition, choice of materials and application of them works well for my final print series in task 3.
Conceptualisation of thoughts: For task 1 I produced the prints more through intuition and experimentation. In task 2 the prints were thought out more in sketch form and adapted when initial prints were not successful. For task 3 I planned these prints much more before starting work on them. Thought was given to the colours / colour combinations, cutting techniques, texturing and the mono-printed backgrounds.
Communication of ideas: The prints for task 3 were aiming to communicate 4 distinct expressions which I think they do well.
Demonstration of creativity
Imagination: I have produced images with original designs and strong compositions.
Experimentation & Invention: This is evidenced in the work throughout this stage and my use of many different combination techniques in my final prints. I think I have improved in this area, working on designs more and developing ideas in my sketchbook. I chose a challenging concept for my final project and worked through it to produce 4 original and distinctive prints which I think communicate the intended expressions well. I could have been more adventurous with my chine collé materials used in project 14 and my mono prints (particularly the ‘Sad’ background in project 15).
Development of a personal voice: It is hard to assess this as the course requires experimentation on so many different fronts it is hard to develop a personal style at this point. Certain themes keep emerging in my work though, and think they share common attributes.
Reflection: Overall I am pleased with my final prints and my development over the length of the course.
Research: Most of my research has been done whilst experimenting with techniques and materials through this stage of the course. I think I have started to incorporate this a bit better into my work rather than treating it as a separate area.
Critical thinking (learning log): This post and the others through this stage of the course and my sketchbook covers this.
My tutor’s overall comments:
Assignment 5 explores your use of the range of printmaking techniques you have acquired from the previous assignments, with the intention of exploring and expressing your own themes and subjects from which you will make a set of prints for your portfolio.
Overall your prints for assignment 5 have been competed to a good standard. You have rounded up this course displaying a good use of techniques with a desire to tackle some direct themes. Some more rigorous preliminary work and a tackling of one or two of the themes with more directness would have produced some more imaginative responses to your prints.
He also suggested some changes to my reflection notes on the final prints which I have done by amending this post.
I received a mark of 58% for this course – a much better result than my bare scrape through the drawing course, which was a huge relief.
The area I fell down in was “Context”, only achieving 9 marks out of 20 with a result of “Variable levels of self-reflection and research, and poor analysis and synthesis of information”. My overall comments were:
Your technical skills have been enhanced by the exploration of some fruitful avenues of enquiry through the combination of method and idea; try to develop these aspects of practice as you move forward. Try to establish more of a dialogue with the process of making in order to develop more of an instinctive approach which might offer up some surprises.
In future be much more rigorous in your comment and include more reflection rather than description. It is important to include comment on relevant artists that you look at.
I have been addressing some of these issues in my sculpture 1 course, but it is clear that I need to increase my research and commentary of different artists going forwards.
Overall I am very happy with this result.