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.

Advertisements

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.

DSCF5631

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?

DSCF5633

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; Collatypes

If I’m totally honest, I wasn’t looking forward to making Collatype Prints. Sometimes I feel a bit like an imposter on this Mixed Media Unit, the things I feel I should get excited about just don’t ‘do’ it for me.

I spent some time looking at the work of contemporary collatype printers, particularly Laurie Rudling and I read the book Collagraphs and Mixed Media Printmaking by Brenda Hartill and Richard Clarke¹ paying close attention to the processes of the featured artists. I found the work appealed to me much more than I thought it would. I was forced to pause and reflect on why I hadn’t expected to like this technique.

I don’t think I am alone in my reservations about Collatype as a printing method. As I researched online I found collatype devotees fiercely defending their choice of technique. The above book alludes to the fairly recent acceptability of collatype in the Art world.

I concluded, that I came to the exercise with preconceived perceptions of what to expect. Sometimes I still have to fight the voice inside that asks: ‘Why use crap off the floor, when I could draw it properly?’ I have many years of experience working in an Early Years setting, with five year olds, where we routinely play with sand, rice, glue and the like. I think I was expecting Collatypes to be similarly novice and amateurish. I certainly wasn’t expecting to discover anything new or produce anything sophisticated.

Research gave me the impetus to put my snobbery (?) to one side and approach this Project with an open mind. After all, PVA and Polyfilla are inexpensive, I had nothing to lose but was gaining the opportunity to play with textures and materials.

¹ HARTILL & CLARKE> Collagraphs and Mixed Media Printmaking (2005) BLOOMSBURY

A4; The Selection Process (What NOT to Include?)

There were practical reasons for beginning the Selection Process at the end of Project One, rather than waiting until the end of the unit:

  • as usual I went totally overboard with the quantity I produced. I had stacks of prints to sort and quite frankly they were driving me crazy!
  • I needed some clarity regarding what I had done and what I needed to do next.
  • I found during Part 3, when I thought I had finished, sorting the work inspired further pieces that I felt were amongst my strongest.
  • I was waiting for Collagraph plate to dray and for Akua ink to arrive.

The process felt very different this time, maybe more physical? I found myself actively involved in shifting and sorting the prints. In some regards it was easier, I felt quite detached and emotionless as I rejected some prints. Others were harder to part with.

This post discusses how I decided what NOT to select

Some were clearly not good, they were easily dispatched.

Some I liked but were more reflective of the ‘old me’, they were tricky not to include!

Some were multiples (I totally over did 4.1.1 and 4.1.2) I had to find a balance between showing the learning, representing the effort and not boring everyone to tears with sunflower after sunflower! No one wants to see this:

Sometimes it was very hard to chose between similar prints. The Emin inspired back-drawings for example contained interesting elements but there was no clear front runner.

DSCF5469

I found it hard not to include any of the knitted stitch prints, I wanted to, simply because I liked the idea. In the end I decided no matter how good the idea was the prints just didn’t do anything for me, I found them a bit bland and safe.

Another difficulty was rejecting a print that represented a lot of work on my part. I tried long and hard to resolve back-drawing on stencil prints producing muddy images. In the detail below you can see that it was beginning to work but a poor choice of substrate (copy paper) had led to buckling. I mounted the print below, but ended up removing it.

This was also the case for the oil paint/brusho back-drawing experiments. They just don’t work, I think the reason lie in the original sketch and/or the subject. The focus of the drawing was the pattern made by the ivy leaves, yet the darkest most dominant part of the composition was the space between them. Had I used it as a negative space exercise I might have had more success. There are also colour issues with the blue/green both with the falsely intense brusho and synthetic looking straight-from-the-tube oil paint.

I really enjoyed 4.1.3 and totally threw myself into it but actually produced very little that I could use, my resolution to this was to include a lot of it in my sketchbook. I found that I used my sketchbook very differently during this unit. It was much harder to keep it chronological, my ideas became rather scattered amongst the pages. I discussed this issue with course-mate Inger, I was extremely tempted to cut it up and re-work it into some sort of order but we both agreed this would not be time well spent. In the end I decided to ‘go with the flow’ and stick things in thematically. I prefer my organised layouts in the A3 sketchbook but I think this one will show the same level of learning- in a rather more organic (chaotic) fashion- it is a working document after all.

 

A3; Response to Tutor Feedback

I have been thinking about this post for a while. By concentrating my efforts on my tutor’s Pointers for the Next Assignment from Assignment 2 feedback, I seemed to make good progress during Part 3.

Pointers for the next assignment (A2)

  • Explore the broadest potential of the materials and processes you’re exploring – be experimental with structure, scale, shape and volume, as well as pattern, texture, colour and decorative elements.
  • Push yourself to keep exploring imperfection and irregularity.
  • Avoid considering outcomes/products, focus on generating a wide range of samples which exploit the creative potential of both process and materials.
  • Emphasise experimentation over refinement

I am pleased that Cari acknowledged the range of approaches I used as I explored the potential of different moulding and casting materials. I tried really hard to break the habit of pre-planning outcomes, allowing the materials to determine what I did instead and Cari recognised this:

“The process of experimentation was thorough and logical but you’ve allowed yourself room to play.”

I did gain a much greater appreciation of the importance of being playful, which was an important lesson to learn. I find my previous hesitancy to ‘play’ quite ironic as in my day job I work in a Reception class (4-5year olds) where we are constantly extolling the virtues of learning through play! This brought to mind a quote by Kleon:

“A day job puts you in the path of other human beings. Learn from them, steal from them. I’ve tried to take jobs where I can learn things I can use in my work later- my library  job taught me how to do research, my Web design job taught me how to build websites, and my copywriting job taught me how to sell things with words.”¹

In other words we work with what we know, I do actually know how to play- I do it to make a living, I just hadn’t made the connection to my art work before!

For me, Part 3 was about the shift in my perspective, I feel that I changed considerably as I forced myself to challenge my preconceived notions of perfection: ‘By being less precious about the need for things to be correct or perfect, you’ve generated a really enthusiastic body of work.’ Searching for ‘imperfection and irregularity’ and indeed ’emphasising experimentation over refinement’ were central to this. I need to continue to work with these values throughout Part 4 (and beyond). Even I can see the benefit this is having on my output.

I wrote a lot! I found the process of reflection really useful and Cari seems to agree: it’s clear the questions have made you think differently about the work’ However she also noted the vast word count: ‘Your entries for part 3 alone total over 12,500 words. If each part was that long, the total for the module would be 60,000+ words.’ I feel the quantity I wrote reflects the period of introspection that ran alongside Part 3, but appreciate that I need to try to be more ‘succinct’ as she puts it.

Cari identified one the questions I asked of myself as interesting: “Am I capturing the texture of another material or am I creating a new one?” She says:

‘This interplay between what is real, what is a copy and what is completely ‘new’ is a really interesting question relating to innovation and the creative process. At what point do two materials combined lose their innate personalities to create something wholly new?’

I find this comment inspiring, I am keen to investigate it further as I progress through Part 4.

One of the things I identified as a potential stumbling block as I began Printmaking was my reluctance to layer. In the past I have often made the excuse “I can’t layer”, what I mean by this is: I can produce ‘something’ but then I don’t know what to do with it. I think this is related to my perfectionism and fear of spoiling what is already there. Cari advised:

‘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. At least then you can feel fairly confident that the compositional arrangement will work.’

I like this safety measure, but I am really keen to build on the developments of Part 3,     (seeking out imperfection, irregularity and experimentation) by now addressing this ‘precious’ attitude I seem to have acquired over the years.

All quotes from Tutor Report 15/08/17 by Cari Morton, except ¹ KLEON A. Steal like an artist (2012) WORKMAN PUBLISHING COMPANY. P124

Part 4; Reflection: Printing Begins

The luxury of having six weeks holiday provided me with the opportunity to begin Part 4 without delay. In fact it happened so quickly that I didn’t even have a new sketchbook ready to catch all my ideas. I have ended up with a pile of notes on copy paper which is driving me crazy. I don’t want to repeat the mistake of an A4 file like I submitted for Part 1, nor do I want to waste precious printing time transferring these into a ‘neat format’ for the sake of it.

To date, presentation has been one of my strengths. Just lately I have felt a real change in my… work? approach? attitude? thoughts? Not sure exactly what it is or how to describe it! Inger identified ‘a sense of new beginnings’ which is definitely true, it feels like a building momentum. This means I am working prolifically and my thoughts are coming really quickly. My experimentation has been extensive, I did not expect to encounter so many variables in the printing process, I am really unsure how to communicate this learning. It seems more honest to preserve my ideas in the format that they arrive. It also feels quite scary to reveal this more scruffy approach and the observations that are closer to my core than anything I have presented so far.

I feel like I have connected with the process in a very different way to knitting or stitching, which feels comforting and protective by comparison. This not to say it is a negative feeling, simply a more powerful one.

My initial research into monotypes didn’t fill me with the sense of dread and paralysis that other units have. Sometimes I prefer not to research beyond the technical requirements of a new process because seeing other people’s work is really scary and leaves me feeling flat for days. This time I felt buoyed up and enthusiastic.

I have absolutely no idea where printmaking is going to lead me or what the prints are going to look like. Early tests have already shown me that I am going to have to be brave and decisive in my mark making. I need to explore the spontaneous and accidental. I can’t afford to be too controlling and careful with this technique. The removal of this filter between me and the paper feels terrifying and exciting at the same time.

 

A3; Self Assessment

 

DEMONSTRATION OF TECHNICAL AND VISUAL SKILLS:

I was quite ambitious with the number of materials I chose to experiment with: clay (air-dry and kiln), plaster, latex, thermoplastic, silicone, resin and expanding foam. I gained an understanding of some of the properties of each one, although I could happily have continued investigating for months to come. I didn’t find any of the materials too difficult to work with, although some are more enjoyable than others. To begin with I was slightly worried about measuring and mixing some of the more challenging materials, such as silicone and resin but the logical part of my personality managed this without incident. It was actually plaster that caused the greatest problems despite being comparatively simple!

Using my Tutor Feedback from Part 2, I tried to move away from pre-planned outcomes and be more experimental. This has definitely reduced the number of refined samples and increased the number of happy accidents. When sampling the skill was in noticing what worked and what didn’t, not in trying to create something I had designed beforehand.

As I said in my Written Reflection, drawing held the key to my enjoyment of Part 3. Inspired by Rachel Whiteread’s sketching, I too began to use Correction Fluid as a drawing medium, I found the unpredictable flow rather freeing. I also began using Inktense Blocks instead of my preferred watercolour pencils, which was pivotal because  it really loosened me up, not just in the drawings but in my whole approach to my work.

QUALITY OF OUTCOME:

I can see a massive improvement in this sketchbook to my Part 1 submission (and probably Part 2 as well). I think I proved that I can still maintain a good level of layout and presentation, while at the same time being less formal. I think there is a lot more of myself in this sketchbook, but instead of this meaning more of me ‘talking to myself’ I am ‘showing myself’, through the inclusion of more imagery. I used diagrams, sketches and resolved drawings alongside photographs, fabric scraps and notes.

I was much less sentimental about the Selection Process this time, obviously weight was a key issue but looking at the samples I could easily see which ones held potential and which ones could be disregarded. Discernment seems to be developing.

DEMONSTRATION OF CREATIVITY:

Strangely, despite being happier with what I have created, I am more apprehensive about sharing it. I think this is part of my slightly reserved and guarded self. During the Selection Process, I reflected that this sample feels like a metaphor for myself: refusing to be contained. Although I have considered this before in the way my drawings often spill off the paper, the work still seems to have become more personal.

DSCF5080

Bruce Mau’s Incomplete Manifesto for Growth (as recommended by tutor) had as much impact on me as Austin Kleon’s Steal Like an Artist did during ATV. It felt good to be reminded of these principles and I have little doubt that they have instigated changes in the way I think.

A few weeks into Part 3, I felt really at odds with the course, I was at the stage where everything felt difficult and once again I was questioning my worth and ability. I think this is a natural part of the Creative Process as it happens to me repeatedly. I got over it by holding onto Cari’s comment: “this course, of all of them, will challenge you to explore methods and approaches that feel uncomfortable- embrace that!” and I did, and so I grew!

I guess many creative types would agree there will always be more that could have been done. I regret not exploring scale but given the restrictions of cost, time and weight and the number of materials I attempted, this was not possible. On reflection what I could have done was draw on a larger scale…

CONTEXT:

I tried to compliment the contextual research in my sketchbook with more academically toned posts on my blog. I still feel happier when the research is embedded in my sketchbook, where I am more confident about displaying images and passing ‘judgements’. This was particularly true when I reflected on works that evoked more complex emotions than “I like it because”. I don’t really feel qualified to judge other people’s work, it feels like criticism but I suppose to some extent when anybody places their work in the public sphere they are opening themselves to the opinions of others.

For Part 3, I have tried to improve my blog posts by responding to a set of predetermined questions. I cut and paste these onto each post and focus my response and analysis around them. I don’t always answer every question but having them there has definitely sped up my thought process. In addition to being mindful of repetition, this gave me much more time to draw and make. This is probably why I have met my deadline for this assignment!

When I summarised my samples for the Selection Process, I noticed that I was providing narrative, I have tried to keep this to a minimum and only use it where the curation of my ideas seemed necessary.