Aims: To explore a variety of papers as a ground for printing onto with acrylic paint.
Why did I select this material/process/approach? For this set of prints I elected to use some of the mark-making tools and techniques I had tried previously, to create the image of a sunflower. The purpose of the exercise was not to focus on the drawing aspect but the materials, (although I discovered as I experimented I became more economical with the marks I made and the image improved anyway). I sketched onto the plate from direct observation of sunflowers as I found in my last set of prints I was copying my drawings not using them as inspiration. This was creating a tight, stilted effect that was spoiling the spontaneity of the technique.
Sample properties: Look/Feel. Structure/texture/colour.
Cartridge papers: I was concerned that the three different types of sketchbook papers I had would produce different results. In fact I needn’t have worried, they performed equally well. Since I am using the Gelli Plate which is designed to be used with dry paper the weight and finish of the papers seems less important than it would be using a more traditional plate and damp paper.
Cardstock: I found this a good alternative to copy paper, it has a similar smoothness but because it is heavier and slightly stiffer it does not curl or wrinkle. The print on the right was white paint pulled onto black card. This is an alternative that might be worth exploring later, as it is a reversal of what is normally expected from a black and white print.
Abaca Tissue and Brown Wrapping Paper: These were both good alternatives. Abaca provides a translucency that would lend itself to layering; the Brown Paper has an interesting linear texture that would compliment any image or pattern. Both provided a suitable strength, weight and absorbency suitable for printing.
Deli Paper and Paper Napkin: I wasn’t so keen on these thinner substrates. The paint seemed to be a bit squidgy when picked up by Deli Paper and the Napkin had the opposite problem of becoming stuck, tearing as I pulled. Both surfaces can be used if these effects are desired but I found them less enjoyable to work with.
Newspaper and Magazine Pages: I had intended to use these as backgrounds for my printed image but on reading the instructions for the Gelli Plate, discovered they are probably not suitable as they can transfer ink or become stuck to the plate. I wonder if anyone has been brave enough to trial these?
Degree of success: What worked/What didn’t? Why? Was I experimental/logical/controlled/expressive enough? The versatility of the Gelli Plate and of acrylic paint meant that most of the prints were successful. I wonder then if my choice of materials was a little too safe? MMT has led me to think there should have been some failures along the way if I was being expressive enough!
Although the image was a supplementary concern, it is worth noting that whilst I was engaged with controlling other aspects of the process the drawing remained fairly free and unselfconscious. There are some prints were I can notice that I have been a bit too hesitant but on the whole I am happy that I was able to accept the imperfections.
In fact the one of the prints that could be described as less successful (notice the great black hand print above?) actually taught me the most: I realised I could be applying much more pressure to the back of the paper. Once I applied this knowledge the grainy effect that was spoiling the blocks of solid was much less apparent
How does this relate to my contextual research? My mark-making was particularly influenced by the monotypes of Degas and Pissarro. I like the overall darkness of their images and the variety of wiped marks’ from very fine and scratchy to quite broad and fluffy. The technique allowed both artists to create texture, for example: Degas ballerina’s tutus or Pissarro’s cabbages. This was what I aimed to do particularly at the centre of the flower.
On reflection, since this set of prints were designed to explore the potential of the paper to used as the ground, perhaps I should have focussed my research on this, instead of the marks that artists have used. I need to remember to keep my research relevant
How could I have approached this differently/What could I do differently next time? Could I repeat this using a different material/techniques?
The next step is to investigate fabrics as a ground for printing. I tried this briefly with Calico. The print, left, was made with just acrylic paint, for the print on the right I added Textile Medium which I have never used before.
The Textile Medium created a more flexible surface and is definitely worth using. I think it also made the paint looser which created a more solid background. It would be interesting to now wash these two samples to see the difference.
I did not immediately see the benefit of printing onto fabric as opposed to paper. It is much harder to align the fabric and the block to centralise the image (I am having enough trouble doing this with paper!) Once the fabric is down and the paint soaks into the surface making it easier to see when the whole image has been picked up, but this can be rather messy. It was only when I pulled the Ghost Print below (on copy paper) that I noticed that some for the fabric weave has also been transferred. This added texture adds to the diversity of the mark-making, creating interesting prints.
What do I want/need to do next?
- Repeat this investigation, using fabric instead of paper. Be prepared to take Ghost Prints onto paper to capture texture.
- Try a more solid printing plate (glass, plastic, metal) to allow firmer scratching.
- My ink has arrived! How will this change the quality of the prints?