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Category Archives: Stage 1 P
Experiments in mark making and painted plates
Experiments in water based printing inks, acrylic paints and medium, oil paints:
Well, the range of printing ink options made the start of this course much trickier than picking up a pencil to start drawing!
I started this off using Linoprint water based inks which I had three different colours – red, yellow and blue.
These were bright colours, mixed OK (to produce orange in this test), but were quite thick to paint with. I tried adding some acrylic medium to the red, but didn’t notice any difference in the outcome. The tests seemed to either be blotchy where there was too much ink, or showed up the brush strokes where there was less ink, but it seemed that getting any fine detail was going to be difficult. Colours on top of each other stayed distinct but gave interesting textures where they spread into each other at the edges. The second prints gave interesting textures, but weaker colours. The inks did dry up when working on the second prints.
The next medium tried was acrylic paint (not ink) and medium
This allowed some interesting effects, but again getting the thickness of the paint appear to be critical to the success of the more detailed effects. Colours on top of each other didn’t mix at all and these didn’t seem to spread as much as the water based inks. Acrylic paint without medium was too dry to print well. These dried out quickly after the first print though and the second prints were not as successful.
Then I moved on to oil paint (not ink) and linseed oil
These worked OK, again with issues of how thick to apply to get enough detail but not to spread. Also came with a reminder that text needs to be written backwards to print correctly.
It was good to experiment in these exercises, but highlighted that I had a lot to learn early on about inks in particular.
How did your print turn out? Was it as you expected?
- OK. That’s a pretty bland statement, but I wasn’t overly pleased by my results, nor was I too disappointed. I was playing around, so didn’t have much in the way of expectations. I didn’t realise quite how much I had to learn about the inks before I could get started properly though.
What happens when you use the brush handle to draw through the ink on your printing plate?
- This gave a nice effect to remove the ink from the plate, but it’s success depended on the thickness of the ink and whether it spread back into the lines.
Can you put one colour on top of another? What happens when this prints?
- You certainly can. With acrylic paints the colours stayed distinct from each other, whilst water based inks and oil paints had some blending at the edges of the colours.
Painted monoprint from life
Still life of lino roller and ink tube in oil paint:
Oil paints seemed like a good option to start with as they took a long time to dry and I am pleased with the way this image worked out. I sketched the still life in pencil and placed it under the printing plate (not reversed) and painted using that as a guide.
Landscape in acrylic paint (no medium):
This was a disaster! But that’s how we learn I guess. I tried acrylic paint but didn’t add any medium to it. This obviously dried out to quickly and when I tried to print from it it stuck to both the paper and the printing plate and ripped the paper when I removed it.
Landscape in water based inks:
After a few additional experiments I tried this image again in water based inks. The areas where I had applied less ink worked well, but the tree did turn out very blotchy due to too much ink and it was less easy to paint with these inks than with the oil paints. I like the effect I achieved for the wispy clouds by rolling on the blue ink for the sky and then wiping off some of the ink from the plate.
Figure in acrylic paint with medium:
After doing some internet research on using ‘Golden open’ acrylic paint for printing, I tried using this with a thin layer of open acrylic gel (gloss) applied to the plate before printing.
I tried a smaller print this time, using a sketch of someone in the ‘Virabhadrasana I’ position from a yoga book (again not reversed).
I tried this print a few times, first without a background, then with one and for both of these I prefer the second print with the fainter colours and nice textures. The acrylic paint seemed to work well for these.
Before clearing up the remaining paint, I mixed it all together, rolled it onto the printing area and drew the figure with the back of a paintbrush which gave a nice effect.
Flower in acrylic paint with medium:
Staying with the acrylic paint as it was working for me now, I tried a print of a flower painted over a photograph which was placed under the printing plate. This didn’t work too well though as I failed to get any detail into the centre of the flower.
There is no limit to the number of colours you can use in a painted monoprint. Similarly you can make a monoprint of any size. Have you exploited these facts?
- I mixed a number of colours for these monoprints, so whilst the prints don’t contain a vast spread of colours I think I have exploited this. I also tried a few different sizes, but haven’t done anything very big yet.
How have you translated your subject using the freedom given by the brush? Have you been able to express your ideas fully using the monoprint?
- I think the first monoprint is my best image, where I have deliberately highlighted the brush strokes and the texture they bring to the print. I didn’t have too much success painting with the water based inks as they seemed to go blotchy when printed and the flat areas of colour for the acrylic figure print worked better on the second print, after the brush strokes had been eliminated by the first print and the ink had a nice texture to it. I think I have been able to express my ideas fully using the monoprint, but given they are initial learning and ‘playing around’ ideas I am sure I will realise limitations soon!
These are the four drawings I used to make my monoprint masks:
The face shadow drawing is the reflection of my face in the printing plate, the car drawing is of a model mini, the leaves are from a card design book and the head and shoulder profile is from a photograph in a yoga book.
I started out using water based linoprint inks.
My first attempt with a negative mask and blue ink – I had too much ink on the plate here and didn’t use enough pressure to get the areas of detail. I also forgot to reverse the drawing:
A second print from the same plate – still not great, but got the ink in the small areas this time
A third print from the same plate with the mask removed and also an interesting effect from wetting the paper (just before printing, so not soaked evenly)
The second run with the same negative mask and ink, with the image the correct way around worked better
Moving onto the positive mask in red this time. The red ink gave a nice textured effect and the bold colour worked well with this design
Selection of prints
A selection of prints from my three other masks using both negative and positive prints
I got a nice effect backdrawing swirls with the end of a wooden spoon on the negative mask of the car
How did you find this process?
- Once I’d got the hang of the amount of pressure required, I enjoyed this process and produced some prints I was very pleased with.
Did your ink dry too quickly and not print evenly or was it easy to achieve a smooth print?
- The water based inks did dry quite quickly, especially when taking second/third prints from the same plate, although this did give the opportunity to experiment with backdrawing. Overall it was reasonably easy to achieve a smooth print, although I prefer the prints where there is some texture to the print.
Does your image work well in both its positive and negative forms?
- I think the negative prints work better for most of my prints because there is more ink on the plate and it makes a more complete image. For the positive prints, I like the third print from the negative mask with the mask removed, for the same reason.
Two colour masked monoprints
I used oil based inks for these prints.
My first attempt was using my face mask, red and yellow ink and basic printer paper:
The image is registered correctly, but there is a white line around the edge. This is presumably caused by the edge of the paper mask, which despite being made of very thin paper, causes the ink not to print right up to the edge. Maybe a printing press would force the ink closer?
The same process with the car mask:
I then tried the face mask again using some Chinese paper. The negative mask worked well on this, but I presume the ink was too dry, or the paper is not absorbent enough when I came to do the positive mask and the lines from the spoon mess up this print:
I tried a print with the car mask using this to my advantage to create a random background and sketchily drawn detail on the car which I think worked well:
Three colour print
Here I printed the cars using the negative mask, first in yellow, then in orange. Finally the positive mask was used to add the blue background and I added some roughly sketched back drawing:
Painted plate with 2 colour monoprint
I tried a two colour monoprint using the car masks and painting the printing plate. I tried using a thin Chinese paper for this print which maybe wasn’t designed for printing. The ink came through the paper and it rubbed through entirely in one area (and it still hasn’t dried after about 3 weeks! Maybe I will give up on Chinese paper for now!):
I tried a few experiments with impressing textures into the printing plate next. The notes said “using an inked-up printing plate press the items into the wet ink and lift them off”. I found this impossible to do though, I couldn’t get the items pressed well enough into the plate to make an impression, but I found that taking a print with the items on the plate, then removing them, worked well.
First print of dried leaves in blue ink, followed by transparent red ink with two bird positive masks:
Second print of dried leaves with a single bird mask which worked much better:
Second print of feathers with a single bird mask:
The feathers didn’t come out too clearly, but they gave a nice effect overall.
I tried a textured landscape which as you will see below didn’t work very well:
I’d used cotton wool for clouds, cut out foil with holes in for building outlines and tissue paper for sea in the foreground, but only the clouds really worked.
I’d already tried a few of these with earlier prints, but did a few more:
For this one I took a print produced in Stage 2 and added text to it.
Here I started from scratch drawing a design I had sketched on the back of the paper in a number of colours. I also bought some proper printing paper (Zerkall) for this print which seemed to work well (and certainly much better than the Chinese paper).
Both of these prints suffer from the ink coming through where it wasn’t intended to (the ink was probably too wet). I don’t think it matters too much on the second print though, except where there was a drop of water (above the reservoir surface) left on the printing plate after cleaning up which caused a big blotch.
Next I tried a still life drawing using back drawing in a single colour and also took a second print from the plate.
I prefer the initial image.
Back drawing forces you to use a more sketchy style as you can’t rest your hand on the print without getting ink under where your hand lies. I like this as my drawing are often detailed works, whereas I prefer sketchy drawings.
Sketching on the plate
I tried a few drawings of a face, this being the better one, drawn with toilet paper wrapped over a pen to soak up the ink:
Turps on oil
Sprinkling turpertine on oil based inks:
This gave an interesting effect and could be a nice print to try to give the impression of rain on a windowsill.
Overall I’m please with some of the prints I have managed to produce in this stage and I am starting to see the benefits of the various methods of monoprinting.
Techniques: Masks + Back drawing
Inks: Linoprint water based
Paper: Somerset, Newsprint 250 gsm
I wanted to emulate a print seen in “Printmaking handbook: Monoprinting”, by Jackie Newell & Dec Whittington called ‘Feathers’, by Ann Bridges. This was a brightly coloured print of many different feathers on a blue background. I’d also seen ‘rainbow rolling’ in the book “Printmaking handbook: Relief printing”, by Ann Westley, which involved rolling two colours at either end of the roller so that the colour combined in the middle. With these two in mind, I chose a bird image to produce my background print.
I cut out bird shapes from some printable acetate (a slight mistake as a printing medium as although the plastic side worked on my second attempt, the side designed for printing on is effectively a layer of glue which obviously didn’t work very well!).
I then ‘rainbow rolled’ yellow to red with linoprint water based inks and placed the masks on top and printed (these prints were for pressing the ink onto the masks, not for use, although the results were very good and would make a good basis for another print).
The plastic masks were then peeled off, turned ink side up, and placed on a plain blue rolled plate and printed.
The print was finished off by back drawing the same bird (a common tern) in a different flying pose on top of the background print.
2) Still Life
Techniques: Drawing on the plate + masks + back drawing
Inks: Linoprint water based
I ‘rainbow rolled’ a green-blue plate and drew a still life sketch (the area in front of my printing plate) into the printing plate before printing.
I then cut a mask of five flowers which I printed on top of this in three colours, yellow, orange and red.
Holding the print over a light-box I then sketched in the location of the flower stems so that I could back draw these in green to complete the print.
3) Landscape in the rain
Techniques: Painted plate + turps on oil
Inks: Acrylic paints + oil ink
Paper: Zerkall 100hpw white smooth
When I did the turps on oil print for project 3 I thought this could be used to represent rain on a window, so I decided to try to use this to produce a print looking through a rain splashed window to a landscape.
I started out sketching an imaginary ‘Dales’ landscape onto A3 paper to place under the printing plate.
I covered the plate in acrylic medium, painted the landscape onto the plate, then printed it.
I then mixed a transparent light blue oil ink, rolled this onto the plate and sprinkled turps onto it to get the raindrop effect.
4) Map of ‘Baras’
Techniques: Textured plate + back drawing + mask
Inks: linoprint water based ink + oil ink + oil paint
‘Baras’ (or ‘Bare House’) is an old farm building up on Yarnbury Moor above Grassington. I have walked past this building many times and it used to have a rusty water tank outside (sadly now gone), which was riveted together and rusted completely through in many parts. The idea of this print was to show a piece of this rusty tank, on top of a map of the area.
The starting point was to produce a textured green background to depict the fields around the building. This was done using scrunched up tissue paper flattened and rolled on a green water based ink plate. I printed from both the plate and the inked up tissue paper, the latter giving the nicest print.
I then sketched the wall and building details on the back of the print from a map of the area and back drew these in black water based inks.
I then tried to add the rusty metal to the print by painting it onto the plate using acrylic paints. This looked terrible once printed though, so it was fortunate that I tried it on a test print, as it looked like a dirty splotch on the print.
It was then time to rethink so I decided that I would use a mask and some oil based inks instead. The brown I mixed up was darker than intended (on the test print) but mixing white to it resulted in a sludgy grey so I risked a second print from the plate, the speckled effect from which actually worked well for the effect I was hoping to achieve.
I then needed to add a lighter colour to the print to show the detail of the rivets and joining plate. I tried this first using a new mask and yellow ink, however this didn’t show up at all against the dark brown background.
So I resorted to adding the detail using oil paint.
Assignment 1 asks for a selection of prints from projects 1-4.
Contents of my submission
- Early experimental prints
- Early experimental prints
- Still Life print
- Painted plate – ‘Virabhabrasana I’
- Positive mask – ‘Big Brother’
- Negative mask – ‘Scribble car’
- Positive and negative masks – ‘Scribble car II’
- Positive and negative masks – ‘Journey I’
- Back drawing – ‘Underground/Overground’
- Textured plate & mask – ‘In flight’
- Back drawn still life – ‘The print workshop’
- ‘Still Life’
- ‘A rainy day in the Dales’
Demonstration of technical and visual skills
I certainly feel that my technical and visual skills are improving through this course and I hope my prints show this development. I need to keep reminding myself to reverse the image before printing as this affects the composition (for example the back drawn bird in ‘Common Tern’ should really be flying left to right across the print).
Quality of outcome
As I am still learning and experimenting, the quality of outcome isn’t as high as I hope to achieve in the future. I used cheap printer paper for a lot of my early prints, but seeing the difference in the higher quality paper used later in the course I will use this for assignment submissions in the future. I need to improve my technique for rubbing the print (particularly when using blue ink) to avoid seeing the spoon marks where these as not required (for example on the background of ‘Common Tern’). I will also mount future work when submitting it for assessment. I didn’t do this for this assignment due to lack of time and also through not leaving sufficient space around the edge of a number of my prints. I think my conceptualisation of thoughts and communication of ideas are strong though, and will improve as I develop the skills to translate my ideas into successful prints.
Demonstration of creativity
I hope this is demonstrated well. I am certainly pleased with the prints I have managed to produce, especially in project 4 where there was a wide scope to produce whatever inspired me.
Unfortunately my sketchbook and learning log is weak on this point. Whilst going through this course I didn’t really know what to do in terms of what was to go in the sketchbook and what would need to be kept aside for the assignment submission. Because of this, the sketchbook was produced after the event, rather than completing as the course progressed in the way I have done for my drawing course. It is also difficult as the prints need to dry before making notes on them or sticking them in a sketchbook. I made notes on my early experimental prints, but not on the later ones. However, now that I know more what I am doing and how the course is structured, I will keep the sketchbook going as I work through the rest of the course, so this weakness will improve. It will also include gallery visits / etc. which are absent in this sketchbook.
The key areas to focus on from my tutor feedback on this assignment are evidence of looking at other Artists works that are of interest to me, exhibitions I have seen, books I have read and adding this to the web blog. Also, the use of a separate sketchbook purely for my ideas is advised.