A4; Tutor Feedback

I was quite resistant to the idea of face-to-face feedback to begin with. I felt I would be too nervous to remember what was said and unable to answer any questions coherently. I need not have worried! Cari was warm and supportive, what came from our discussion was really thought provoking.

Here I will begin to consider some of the points Cari raised in the written summary she provided:

Overall Comments

– Strong clarity of image achieved in monoprints, through good use of mark making on the plates. The influence of Matisse on the nature of the image is clear.

– You are directly responding to both the technique and approach seen in your contextual research, which is great.

– Good range of material substrates tested to achieve a range of aesthetics.

– You’ve explored composition well through thumbnailing in the sketchbook but the prints often have a central motif surrounded by negative space and texture. Explore more varied compositions in future print, testing where the image appears within the frame.

All of my sunflower series featured a central motif, of course I must have noticed this- it was partly why so many images were culled at the selection phase- they were too similar. Why did I reproduce the same image so many times? I guess because I was experimenting with materials- paints, inks, papers and fabrics, I chose to the same composition to provide a constant when comparing results. Given that I had gone to the trouble of thumbnailing compositions I don’t really know why I didn’t carry this through properly.

I could easily do this and add to the presentation book with a note to say they were made in response to feedback.

– Figurative, illustrative approach worked well (sunflower series) and great to see exploration of text too.

I really enjoyed the illustrative element of printmaking. It did feel nice to be producing something that looked like something else. Cari suggested prints don’t need to be ‘of’ anything and given my interest in abstraction I am surprised that I felt the need to be so figurative.

– You’ve also developed some good repeat patterns. The knitted print in the sketchbook has great rhythm and depth produced through varied line and colour interaction.

– Great to see exploration of relief and 3D – printing on pleated / corrugated / folded materials. Consider presenting photographs of the pleated prints, so you present the work as you want assessors to see it.

This was really a credit to Cari whose Pointer for the Next Assignment at the end of Part 3, really inspired this line of enquiry. We discussed the addition of photographs to help explain the construction of the pattern. This makes a lot of sense to me and aids the inclusion of 3D.

– Working onto prints – drawing, scratching, layering, works really well.

Working on top of my work is something I felt I had never had much success with before. I am glad Cari found it worked well, I did concentrate a lot of effort on improving this area of my work.

– The sketchbook contains some great tests and the aesthetic is more varied than in the presentation book. The quicker, more minimal exploration haven’t been valued in the presentation book to the same extent as the more traditional approaches. (E.g. minimal pattern, the woven photocopied prints.) Consider the criteria on which you are selecting work for presentation.

I’m so glad this came up. It identified a misconception I had about the selection process. I thought I was representing the journey through the exercises, demonstrating what I had learned, including mistakes. I now realise I was supposed to be showcasing my best work. This misunderstanding might be contributing to the fact that my sketchbooks are always better than my final pieces.

We also identified that I have preconceived notions that to be ‘good’ or ‘final’ a piece of work must reflect an investment of time. This would help to explain why pieces like these were omitted:

I explained to Cari that on some level, I know they work but I just don’t understand why. She has recommended some things for me to think about (see * below).

Learning log:

– Discussion continues to critique and question your approach and the nature of the work.

– There were times when I’d have liked some more evaluative comments about the aesthetic (composition, role of motif, what it communicates), as your discussion of the prints focusses more on the technical aspects. Consider broadening your evaluative notes in part 5.

The conundrum continues… how to write less without leaving things out? How to broaden my notes with out saying too much? I think that this issue will resolve with practise. I will find a balance!

(*) Crafting, perfection, time… What makes art have value?

Some really interesting questions emerged through our discussion about your perception of value, which it would be great to consider reflecting on.

-Time and crafting: Should time-investment in art work equate to value? If something looks more detailed or time-consuming, does that make it more expensive?

Context: Look at the different contexts within the art world. People buying work for their walls in a local gallery work may value different aspects compared to visitors to the Tate Modern. Tracey Emin’s tent was vilified for looking thrown together, eliciting comments like ‘I could have done that’ at gallery shows. In this example, does the concept being communicated through the materials/process create the value rather than the process/medium? What do you value in others work and your own?

Function: Quilting and similar craft disciplines when used to create functional outcomes need to be well crafted to ensure they withstand time and use. When processes are used to create work that isn’t functional, the role of crafting will shift.

Sloppy craft: Consider the execution of techniques in art. Is perfection necessary? Something may be time-consuming but not look it. Look at the sloppy craft movement and Josh Faught’s work. (There’s an academic test about this but I haven’t read it yet. Sloppy Craft: Post-disciplinarity and the crafts, Elaine Cheasley Paterson, Susan Surette)

I think these pointers go a long way to illustrating the benefit of video feedback. The issue came up through back and forth questioning, the result is perfectly tailored to meet my needs at this moment in time. I am not going to comment on them yet but I will definitely be giving them much consideration.

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A4; Self Assessment

DEMONSTRATION OF TECHNICAL AND VISUAL SKILLS

Printmaking felt like an extension of the drawing and painting skills that are one of my strengths, as such I think I had the technical skill to manipulate the materials, although I did struggle with the Intaglio process when printing the Collatype plates.

I used this unit as an opportunity to develop my collage skills. In the past I have really struggled with collaging and layering and have felt reluctant to ‘spoil’ work I have produced. Addressing this issue gave me the freedom to play with colour and composition in a way that I haven’t experienced before. I became much less precious about my work, experimenting with cutting and layering in a curious manner.

I think the unpredictable nature of the print and the spontaneity of the process gave me the confidence to accept imperfections, it was also much more difficult to pre-plan an outcome, I found I had to work with what I got! This builds on learning from previous units.

QUALITY OF OUTCOME:

Being experimental and taking risks means that inevitably some efforts will fail. I was much less discouraged by this than in the past and used these stumbling blocks as a chance to problem solve and find out what would work. This often led to newer more exciting ideas, for example My BIG Idea.

My sketchbook is very different, at times I found the unit chaotic and sprawling. I was often working on several ideas at once. As such my sketchbook lost some of the continuity I am used to, I found I had to organise it thematically rather than chronologically. The result is more obviously a a working document, especially when compared to my Part 3 sketchbook which was very controlled and well laid out.

My final selection has been tidily bound and looks quite professional. The overall impression I get when I look through it is that there is a variety of quirky pieces that reflect me as an individual. The question remains whether or not to add the labels I prepared?

There is some duplication of prints towards the end when I simply couldn’t choose between them. I hope I have shown enough discernment, it seemed important to show how different prints from the same plate could be!

DEMONSTRATION OF CREATIVITY:

I think Printmaking came more naturally to me than some of the other mixed media techniques I have encountered so far. This provided the temptation for me to get bogged down in the production of ‘perfect’ images, I am happy to say that I think I managed to avoid this. My choice to begin the exercises using acrylic paints, copy paper and the Gelli Plate encouraged me to concentrate on the techniques and to be experimental. I worried that more expensive materials would foster the perfectionism that I am trying to ‘grow out of’.

My tutor’s pointer to use the processes from earlier in the course to introduce surface relief was certainly instrumental in creating some of the more imaginative pieces. I used the pleating, folding, cutting, tearing and crumpling exercises from Part 1. I was pleased to be able to incorporate encapsulation with resin from Part 3, to ‘Preserve the Transient’. Adapting the collatype technique allowed me to prepare a reverential wrapping paper that drew on the themes of concealment and revelation from Part 2.

CONTEXT:

The biggest difference in my research for this unit seems to be the shift from WHAT other artists have done, to HOW they did it, which in turn leads to the question WHY. This was more deeply embedded than it might appear and ran right from the beginning of the unit where I discovered the subtractive monotypes that lie beneath some of Degas paintings right through to end where I considered the role the of Collatype Plate. My research challenged me to think beyond the print as a final product and to consider them as another stage in the process. I think this will formulate the work for Part 5. (see bottom of this post)

Cari’s challenge to write less without paring too much away, was quite a conundrum! I have done my best to be more succinct (I don’t know how she found out my word count or I could check and compare!) whilst maintaining the same level of reflection. My sketchbook is more visual and relies many on notes to support the work, however, I did still include a lot of my research it rather than on the blog.

A4; The Selection Process

I previously wrote about the Selection Process and what I didn’t include from Project 1 (here) I have now compiled my entire selection and sent them to my tutor. I chose to mount all the prints on A3 paper as they were a variety of sizes and materials. I bound the pages with loose rings to enable the prints to be removed and viewed side by side if necessary.

The nature of the final exercise meant that there was time between the drying of plates to perform the analysis and selection as I went along. This meant there was not a last minute scramble to make choices at the end. It also means that there seems little more to say about the process, detailed information can be accessed via the menu tab.

I hope I have been able to show a level of discernment in my selection, I chose 39 in total which seems rather a lot but I found printmaking to be extremely prolific, I have a huge amount left over that I didn’t send!

I prepared a set of labels to stick to the bottom of each page to curate the collection. I ended up placing these at the front of the book for Cari to read- I will ask her opinion on whether or not to use them. I wanted to provide information for the assessors about my choices but I don’t want them to distract from the images.

4.1.1: MARK-MAKING

 

4.1.2: PAINTING ON

4.1.3: BACK DRAWING

4.1.4: STENCILS

4.1: DEVELOPING COLLAGE SKILLS & INTRODUCING SURFACE RELIEF

4.2.1 & 4.2.2: COLLAGE & POLYFILLA BLOCKS

4.2.3: COLLATYPE PRINTS

I apologise if any of the images disappear, I had terrible trouble getting them to stick!

 

 

 

4.2.3; Scope and Potential

Embracing Collatype Printing was actually very rewarding. I didn’t find it nearly as ‘pre-school’ as I thought! I surprised myself at the level of sophistication I was able to achieve, even though the prints had many imperfections. I believe there is a lot more that could be done both with the technique itself and the prints I have already produced.

The Prints:

I would like to experiment with adding to the prints I have made. Earlier work in Project 1 showed me the dangers of adding too much detail in the form of a heavy outline. I found this made the shapes very static and the overall print too dark:

I am hopeful that further experimentation with collage gave me the skills to avoid this happening again:

The photographs below demonstrate that adding colour to a ‘failed’ print can be effective but I still think more embellishment is required. I will be adding machine stitch.

The Abaca prints below could be adhered to another substrate in the manner of Chine Colle. I would then be interested to see how hand embroidery can be used to develop the image.

There would be little to lose from working on top of failed prints: either too light or too dark, they could be used to form the scaffold of another piece of work.

The Plates:

What excites me more than developing the prints, is the thought of using the used plates for something else…

The Cromer Pier Plate (2) has already been covered with Gesso, I intend to paint over this. I think I will find manipulating paint with a brush over the textures in my own time, easier than racing to apply sticky ink and hoping it transfers to the paper.

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The abstract plate (1), that gained the look of a Miro painting after inking has been coated with several layers of latex and scrim. I have an idea that when they are separated the latex will pull a certain amount of residual ink with it. Will I then be able to cast that? Will the ink then colour plaster (like Rachel Whiteread’s book sculptures from Part 3? I don’t know what will happen and that is what attracts me!

The construction of the Windmill plate (3) meant that many features were set in relief to achieve a clean white result on the finished print. What if this were cast? The detail would be reversed, would this change its appearance? Would this change the way it printed?

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I am reluctant to say very much more as I believe these ideas will form the basis of Part 5. I had an entirely different idea of where I was headed for Part 5 but these thoughts coupled with the discovery of contemporary artist Arlene Shechet has changed this.

Shechet has a healthy attitude toward ‘play’ and her process is really organic because of this: “You are prepared but you don’t know anything” ¹ This is exactly how I want to work in Part 5. She uses a number of materials to form her sculptures and is not tied to any particular technique, she points out: “The thing that’s unseen is sometimes way more interesting than what you want people to see” ² and I find myself in total agreement. I often find the incidental products of making as attractive as the work itself, be it the table protector, the cloths used to clean up, the stencils, the mould from a casting OR the Plates used for printing… I think I have found my way forward!

¹ and ²: https://art21.org/watch/extended-play/arlene-shechet-pentimento-in-paper-short

4.2.3; Collatype: Plate Four

I felt that I could have continued with the landscape Collatypes. Plate 3 seemed to be so much better than Plate 2 that it might have been worth persevering but I was reluctant. Making notes in my sketchbook helped me identify that I probably already knew what the outcome would be and I wanted to use this opportunity to try something different.

I returned to the Sunflowers that I had dedicated so much time to in the beginning. They were beginning to fade away as Autumn approached. I took time out to ‘Preserve the Transient’ (an idea that just won’t go away) by encapsulating a print from 4.1.2 in resin.

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Since the print was made on lightweight muslin, the flowers appear to almost float, suspended eternally in their moment of glory. I decided that such a special moment deserved the type of reverential wrapping I had seen in ‘How to Wrap Five Eggs’ ¹ which was recommended by my tutor earlier in the course. (I finally got hold of an affordable copy)

My interests lay in pattern making and repeated elements, I decided to create a paper to wrap the resin sample in. Since I don’t have access to a press I believe my prints will always be inferior, so chose to adapt the technique of Collatype to produce a printing block rather than a plate. A simplified motif was developed in my sketchbook, I chose materials I knew from sampling would print well (pipe cleaner and foam) the complexity of the overall print would come from repetition.

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Unfortunately, I forgot to photograph this stage, all that remains is the block and the registration paper! I printed the block in a half drop formation without turning it, the last minute addition of a third flower meant the motifs linked together well creating interesting negative space between them.

I chose Abaca tissue as a substrate for many reasons, not least because it built on my Claire Nash research: I intended to use the pattern paper as Chine Colle, applying it to another layer. I knew from my collage work at the end of Project 1 that ModPodge would allow the layers to become translucent, revealing and yet concealing what was hidden within. (Another idea that won’t go away!)

To print the subsequent layers, I made a latex copy of a Sunflower leaf. At the time I had little idea why I did this. Why didn’t I just print with the leaf itself? I still don’t have an answer for this! Curiosity got the better of me I think! I learned that a latex copy makes an effective printing plate, which opens new avenues of exploration.

DSCF5669The final paper has three layers, the tissue became translucent enough to view the layers below but remained stubbornly opaque in the unprinted areas. I think it works as a wrapping for my sample and demonstrates my curiosity and lateral thinking skills.

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The photograph below shows the parcel all wrapped up. I purposely put the white layer facing outward to challenge the notion of ‘pretty’. This delays the viewing of the final Collatype print until the package has been opened. The physical act of unwrapping will be rewarded with both the print and the resin sample.

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¹OKA, H. How to Wrap Five Eggs (2008ed) SHAMBHALA PUBLICATIONS

4.2.3; Collatype: Plates Two and Three

Following my (perceived) success with the intuitive abstraction I produced for plate one, I took a risk with the next two plates. I decided to try the alternative option in the course-notes: a landscape. The reason I saw this as risky is that my tutor has encouraged me not to pre-plan outcomes and to explore the unknown. Preparing a composition and filling it with appropriate textures seemed to contradict this.

I was keen to find a middle ground between a traditional landscape and a total abstraction because this is how I had begun to see Collatype images. I spent a lot of time looking at Laurie Rudling’s prints, considering how I could construct a composition but it was my old favourite Patrick Heron who led me forward.

Patrick Heron’s abstractions were underpinned by exceptional drawing skills, I love the fluidity of his sketching. Here you can see the economy of the line used to divide the plane, in my sketchbook I have included examples of his more figurative sketching.

Using photographs from my North Norfolk holiday, I experimented with composition, my line lacks Heron’s fluidity and spontaneity but the exercised helped me select which images to work with next.

Constructing the plates was reasonably straightforward. I am glad that I took time during Project 1 to develop my collage skills, which in the past have been rather lacking. I found it easier to build these plates because you don’t have to take colour into account, you can simply focus on texture.

PLATE TWO: Cromer Pier

Inking the plates was a lot harder than I anticipated! I produced multiple failed efforts on a variety of substrates. The thing I found most frustrating was once black has been added to the plate, any further inking is totally tainted!

I also realised (rather too late) the implications of the image printing in reverse. Since this is a real landscape depicting the approach to Cromer pier from Overstrand, I guess I should have been more concerned that it is now the wrong way round. I did try to counter this by first printing onto to glass then pulling the image to paper (below) but in the end decided I had more to worry about. However, this is something I would be mindful of in the future.

DSCF5630I narrowed the prints down to the two I thought were most successful. Yet again I found it incredibly difficult to choose between them.

I like the sense of depth and space I get from the first print (left). It is far more minimal and open. I prefer the sky in the second print (right) it is more atmospheric but the foreground is overdone. I had been playing with the original image in photoshop and had increased the sharpness and saturation to create a bold palette which didn’t translate very well in ink.

Again I found the plate held a potential of its own. I have covered in in Gesso to absorb any remaining ink and am intending to paint it in acrylic. This will form a painting with a relief surface (it will also be the right way round!) Looking at the level of detail I included on the plate it is a shame that more didn’t print on the paper. I am left wondering why this is? Lack of Pressure? Depth of Plate?

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PLATE THREE: Windmill at Cley

By the third plate, I had learned a lot about how far objects should protrude from the plate. Not much as it turns out! In fact some the grasses in the foreground were made with dog hair- So Cari’s pointer to The Colour of Hair Project¹ wasn’t wasted after all!

DSCF5633The areas of the Plate that printed well were the sky and the windmill: foam and wallpaper. The textures in these areas were not deep but they were particularly level and slightly squashy; sophisticated colour has been transferred by these areas, reminding me of traditional landscape paintings. The leaves at the top of my scrim tree are particularly successful, almost like the fine brush work of Gainsborough.

At first I was quite disappointed by the lack of detail in the lower portion of the print. The harder substances like polyfilla and sand/PVA mix left lots of white space where the intaglio detail should have been. I was tempted to work on top of the print as I did in Project 1 inspired by Degas. In fact I had two copies on Abaca Tissue that I was intending to use as Chine Colle like Claire Nash does which I could add stitch to- embroidering the white areas rather than using pastel, watercolour or acrylic? This is something I still might do.

I actually avoided ‘colouring in’ the spaces in the above prints because I began to wonder if actually it is what makes them a little bit special? I might just be making excuses for my failure and justifying that I didn’t effectively resolve the issue but I’m not so sure. I like the way my eye is first drawn to the top, where the colouration informs me what I am looking at- a traditional composition of a fairly standard countryside scene but as my eye lowers, the detail drops away and I am forced to work a bit harder. To consider what each texture I encounter is there to represent. I think this exploits the technique of Collagraph and injects a bit of life and energy into what could have been a static image if I over worked it.

Below are the Abaca versions, one colour and one black and white, they are waiting for me to decide what to do with them. What is interesting to note is that even with the flexibility of a tissue paper I was still unable to print those pesky intaglio areas!

I was probably right to avoid adding to the prints above until I knew what I was doing. I made an attempt to working on top of a print from this series: I experimented with adding Inktense to a fabric version of ‘Cromer Pier’ using Textile Medium instead of water, the result was rather dark. I have prepared it as a quilt sandwich and intend to experiment with introducing dimensionality by making a padded embroidery.

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4.2.3; Collatype: Plate One

Using my research into Contemporary Printmaker Claire Nash, I set about creating an intuitive abstract composition. This was achieved by putting aside all my preconceptions and reservations about Collatypes and simply enjoying the process.

I had recently purchased a book: How to Paint Abstracts¹ which introduced me to Informalist Painting. This also helped me to open up to the process of producing a Collatype.

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A mix of sand and PVA was applied to recycled cardboard packaging in an intuitive manner with my fingers, marks were then scratched into the surface with a palette knife. This process felt really free and expressive.

Some of the first prints were quite speckly and patchy, I decided perhaps I needed to apply more ink. This led to a similar issue I had earlier with the Emin Back Prints, way too much ink was then transferred to the paper. I resolved the problem in the same manner by printing paper to paper until the ink dispersed enough to have a chance of drying. The problem with this was I then had multiple prints and it was hard to decide which one was the most successful.

I narrowed the selection to a choice of two:

My personal favourite was the print on the left, I think it is bold and exciting. I like the way the organic marks (typical of Informalist Painting) are supported by linear parallel lines (which I have noticed to be characteristic in my own work). Looking at the print fills me with the same sense of joy and enthusiasm that I felt as I created it. (This was made following our video call Inger! Thanks for the boost!)

Since I had difficulty printing the intaglio areas of the plate, I decided to exaggerate this in the print on the right, by incorporating the subtractive method of Monoprinting, rather than hide it. Loose repetitious marks were scraped and printed. As always, the introduction of more white makes a more open composition, allowing the colours to vibrate more freely. The mark-making provides more to look at whilst allowing the eye to rest before encountering more colour. However, I still find the first print to be stronger.

After inking with a limited palette of colour, the plate had the look of a Miro painting. I am convinced this is not the end of the story for this plate, I think it has the potential to become something in its own right. Perhaps I could cast it?

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¹ POCKET ART GUIDES. How to Paint Abstracts. (2012) BARRONS