I have been trying to use a variety of papers and fabrics as substrates for printing in order to relate the process of Printmaking to the realms of Mixed Media. In my last post I discussed the prints I made by painting directly onto a plate, what struck me about them was most felt more like a ‘starting point’ rather than a finished print. They all lacked ‘something’, I tried to decide what….maybe I have been converted to Mixed Media after all!
The images below show the development of a previous print that I felt lacked definition. I reworked the image with watercolour pencils, hoping to support the motif by darkening the background. Unfortunately, I used too much yellow, which being a bright colour pushed itself forward creating too much competition between the background and the focus. I knocked the background back by adding a layer of scrunched tissue paper with Mod Podge, some of the yellow watercolour dispersed and the effect is a darker green that provides more contrast.
This development led me to ask myself the same old question: Have I enhanced or spoilt the original? The photograph below shows that I have created a new relief texture in the ground which really supports the looseness of the mark-making. Viewed up close, I am really pleased with the result but when I stood back and saw the image as a whole, I was disappointed by how tight and ‘traditional’ the print has become. I have lost the spontaneity and abstraction of the original.
This conflict between enhancing and overworking is the thing I find most difficult. When I look at my work I can see what I could do to it to improve it, yet when I do I inevitably prefer it in its more raw state. I guess this problem will eventually resolve itself through experimentation and practise?
In my contextual research for contemporaries using monotypes, I found a striking image by Dei Hackett-Mooney. I was struck by her explanation:
“None of my paintings are precious and I love the experimentational side to creating an image. More paint can always be added or even removed. Oil on board – ongoing process” ¹
This is worth remembering, I need to combine and layer materials and techniques to discover what works and what doesn’t. I seem to have to continuously remind myself that MMT is about process and technique, not refined pieces! My tutor suggested:
“If you don’t layer, you won’t know if it works or not, so you have to test it! In terms of ‘spoiling’ what you’ve done, that’s already an anxiety inducing moment! Depending on how much you like the original print, and how much time you have, you could always photograph and print out small images of the print onto which you can draw new layers to get a sense of how it might work.”
I tried this approach with the image below. Referencing Degas who used his monotypes as a sort of scaffold for the work that came after and inspired by Castiglione’s mark-making, I redefined the image.
This was a satisfying process, in the original the glass looked more like a goblet, I was able to correct the shape to a more accurate representation of a cocktail glass. The underlying monotype provides some of the atmospheric, smoky qualities I was looking for and kept the drawing on top loose and expressive.
Comparing the process of reworking an original print (as with sunflower) or a copy (cocktail glass) is interesting. When working on a copy, I felt the freedom of not spoiling the print BUT I missed the tactile push and pull of working into paint or ink.
In my sketchbook, I considered other ways to adapt the prints. Inspired by work I saw at an exhibition on holiday (Connectivity. Cley ’17) I thought about encapsulating the muslin print in resin. This new insight led to the pulling and manipulation of threads from a sample print in 4.1.1:
I experimented using the distorted print to make another print. This raised the question: Is the print the final piece or part of the process? The following photographs show how I played with this idea of printing, distorting, printing and embellishing. It turned out to be a satisfyingly explorative play session!
¹ HACKETT- MOONEY. D. http://www.greystonesguide.ie/a-kick-up-the-arts-15-dei-hackett-mooney/