To fulfil the initial part of my printing plan, I monoprinted some papers using I Brusho or gouache on cartridge paper and Japanese washi.
On one of the papers, I used a stencil and diffuser to create a soft image of my hand, echoing the graffiti. The diffuser was chosen to give a soft image without opacity which references both the spray can graffiti and also the early cave paintings using a hand as a stencil.
With a print exchange in mind, I made a stack of 10 cm square plates out or card, acetate, drypoint paper etc.
One plate was painted with Nitromors inspired by the light mote found drawing. The Nitromors etched the plate, but very softly. It has little surface tension and spreads out. I need to consider adding it to a stiff medium like wall paper paste. These marks won’t hold ink.
A couple of plates were painted with pva using a needle nosed dispenser, and then shaking carborundum over.
The needle applicator has created lovely delicate marks.
Inking these plates, it was clear that the pva easily rubbed of the plate. I have found that all pvas are not born equal and this new bottle is not good stuff. One plate was abandoned, which was a shame as I think the two plates over-printed, inked in different colours, would have created real visual interest. To add impact to the one plate, I added a ‘roll-over’ of ink. This is executed really badly and shows how out of practice I am. The carborundum stands very proud and creates an ink halo.
Abandoning carborundum, I switched to Golden micaceous oxide which is a fine mineral grit in a strong acrylic base. It won’t go through a needle applicator, so it was painted one a plate in a shape inspired a negative space from one of the found drawing photographs.
This was printed onto monoprinted supports. The Brusho used to print them in water soluble, so the paper was damped by leaving in a damp pack for a few hours and this successfully damped the paper without moving the colour.
I like the way the simple printed shape relates to the shapes on the monoprinted support, but I don’t think the print is interesting enough on its own and I need an identical edition of 10 for a print exchange, so monoprinted backgrounds are out. I think the delicate, water colour background are an excellent foil to an oil based ink print. The micaceous oxide stood up to inking, wiping, cleaning and inking in a different colour excellently.
A couple of plates where painted with shapes inspired by graffiti lettering, and printed on Somerset paper and also on washi monoprinted with gouache.
Trying to get a soft, brushy effect, I think I have slightly over wiped these. Printing on the washi, I erred in the opposite direction, but the background are so strong that that was advantageous. I like the red over the monotone background by I have learnt through this process that the monoprints have to be really delicate not to overpower the print.
Printing in white on a more uniform background is more successful, and I would like to try this in silver or gold ink. I feel such simple marks work best in a series.
One of my printmaking objectives was to try out the silk screen that has been passed on to me by a friend. I did a couple of days screen printing course a few years ago and wasn’t very keen on the process when using stencils or screen filler. However, I remember having read a brief paragraph in a book on lithography and screenprinting (Eichenberg, 1978) in which Robert Burkert talked about drawing on a screen and then transferring the drawing with medium. In my first attempt screen print, I turned back to the organic negative shape by this time looked at the positive shape and included some details of the stalks.
I used Derwent XL soft graphite in blue to draw, and, since this is water soluble I gently sprayed the screen with water to help pick up. Brusho in brown and orange was then painted over for stalks and a a little edge interest. Some Brusho powder was also sprinkled in place to see how this worked.
Burkert talked about how weak the image was but I was astonished as how this leaped to life. Lots to learn. The medium has flooded my masking at the bottom and the screen moved slightly as I pulled. A board with removable pin hinges is needed. The Brusho dust has been pulled down in streaks. I do like the way that the graphite has completely blocked the screen in places, leading to a solarised effect . Also the movement of the block has been captured.
This feels like a really exciting coming together of printmaking with the process of drawing. My husband has offered up a couple of suitable hinges which have now been attached to a solid baseboard and the screen edge. Using XL charcoal blocks and some course natural pastel from Pip Seymour, I have tried the process again with graffiti as the source inspiration.
The water soluble graphite was drawn in sweeps onto the sprayed screen, pastel drawn over and more spray applied locally to create runs. My hand was so covered in soft charcoal that I stamped it on too. The charcoal was scraped back into with a brush handle. The TQC is a reference to (but not actually) the tag of a graffiti artist operating along the Metropolitan line.
This time the screen hasn’t moved and the image is crisp. I could lift the screen and see if I needed to pull more medium, without the paper moving. However, my paper was not thick enough and stretched with the moisture, causing the horizontal lines where it buckled slightly. The effect of blocking the screen in places gives the feeling of an etching and the textures produced by water movement are faithfully recorded.
There was enough charcoal left for a second print.
Next time, I will try developing the drawing between pulls. I am thrilled at how this experiment has worked and the opportunities it offers.
With a final pull, I made one pass with the squeegee, lifted the screen, placed some painted tissue over the paper, and then pulled the medium again. The medium has fixed the tissue a bit like chine colle, but only where the screen was not blocked. When dry, any loose tissue can be carefully removed and its absence echoes the design; another interesting possibility.
I had another go, this time seeing if I could take repeated pulls, developing between each pull.
Although I tried to use less media, and thicker paper, I have still go a couple of horizontal lines due to buckling. I think the shapes and texture bottom left is the best part of this print. I worked back into the damp screen with more charcoal.
Just a faint line here but the interest bottom left has faded.
On the third pull, I have also added some of the grittier pastel to reclaim some textural marks.
Each pull has the basic structure of the original print but develops or decays as the media is used up and replaced.Here, I think the first one is the best.
Doing some printmaking was supposed to be an antidote to the apathy into which I had been sinking. It has certainly been successful in firing up my creative spirit again. It has also allowed me to explore how I can take the processes of Drawing 2 into my own practice, in particular how sketchbooks form a resource of inspiration for further development in different media.
Eichenberg, F. (1978). Lithography and silkscreen. 1st ed. London: Thames and Hudson