Sunday, July 5, 2015

Earthbound

Last night my monoprint show, Earthbound, opened at Gallery 24 here in Torrey. The opening was a lovely event, with plenty of people and a lot of interest in my work. I hung twenty 8"x10" monoprints (well, one was a monotype) that represent my main body of work this year. Photos of some of the prints and their presentation in the gallery can be found here.

My favorite print, left, was one of the last that I created, and it was purchased by one of my favorite people. Several other prints sold as well, which was a pleasant surprise. Even more satisfying was the curiosity that friends and acquaintances showed in the processes and methods used to create the art. I typed up a little explanatory page that hangs on the wall next to the work, describing the different techniques of drypoint, intaglio, collography, and chine collé. The prints are labelled accordingly.

All in all, I am thrilled with the results of a winter and spring of hard work. I feel comfortable with all of the techniques and materials involved in creating these works, and I am very pleased with the results. My next challenge, I think, is to work in both cold wax and monotypes/prints to see how the two very different processes can compliment and inform each other. But, first, Jerome and I are off on a long-anticipated vacation to Banff, Alberta, Canada!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

monotype toolbox

It's hard to believe that nearly six months have passed since I wrote the last post, and yet much has happened in that time. A dear friend passed away in early February, and as successor trustee for her estate, much of my time since then has been taken up with legal and other matters that have drained both emotion and energy. A second workshop with Ron Pokrasso in January introduced both Jerome and me to SolarPlate and ImageOn printmaking. Then, late last month, I met my artist friend Phyllis at Timberwick once again, for a full week of instruction from Ron. Much of the material was a review for me, yet a second time through only added to my depth of understanding. More importantly, I now sense that I have a substantial toolbox of monotype techniques, and I am beginning to create new work that takes advantage of a wide variety of approaches.

My list of techniques echoes Ron's "layers and plates" approach, and includes: (1) layering multiple inked plates on a single print, (2) using ghosts of plates as springboards for new prints, (3) playing with the viscosity of multiple inks on a single plate, (4) integrating thin papers in chine collé, (5) creating and printing intaglio plates (SolarPlate and drypoint), (6) creating and printing collographic plates, and (7) veiling (partially covering prints with opaque white or tinted ink).

Gallery 24 here in Torrey is giving me a solo exhibition this coming July, so I have a deadline and purpose to my work. I hope to have about twenty presentable monoprints to show.

The image above is a monoprint with both collography and SolarPlate images, 8" x 10".

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

learning curves

Jerome and I traveled to Santa Fe last week, where I participated in a three-day workshop in monotype from master printer Ron Pokrasso. In what Ron calls his "Layers and Plates" approach, multiple plates are prepared for each monotype print, creating layers of effects as each subsequent plate is printed on the paper. Two of my more playful efforts, on 16"x20" plates, are at left.

Echoing Ron's theme, I gained multiple layers of knowledge and information at the workshop. Most of the techniques and tools were familiar to me, at least in the abstract, but now I was able to see them practiced by someone who put them together in a complex way, using multiple techniques at a time rather than one technique alone. Chine collé, brayering, subtracting paint, stamping, masking, drawing: all might go into any one print. And new techniques, such as using the edge of a brayer to draw, as well as new tools, such as Stabilo's "Woody Pencils", were added to my repertoire.

In addition to the tools-and-techniques aspects of the workshop, it was tremendously helpful to spend three days in a working print studio, with designated workstations for various tasks and processes, and to hear Ron's suggestions about work flow and arrangement of tools. One of the first things I did upon returning home was to rearrange my studio and acquire an additional worktable. I moved the press into the middle of the room, and now have an easier set-up for the whole monotype process. Ron works on Arches 88, an unsized paper that does not require dampening, and uses the Akua line of water-based inks. For the duration of my studies with him (three more workshops through April), I am doing the same, which means that I can dispense with both the space and the time required for soaking paper, The resulting freed-up space is welcome, and makes the logistics of working in my little studio much more fluid.

Friday, November 28, 2014

strata


Judith Brodie's book Yes, no, maybe: Artists working at Crown Point Press arrived earlier this week and has provided hours of stimulation and fascination. I have to remember that the works included in it are largely etching-based, and use materials and techniques that go far beyond monotype. But the book creates fantasies in my head (the section on Diebenkorn and his work is particularly captivating), out of which grew an idea for interpreting my "Colorado Plateau strata" concept through the monotype process. So today I gave it a try.

The process was long, partly because I was feeling my way and partly because, well, it just took a long time. I began by creating three templates (for lack of a better term) using tracing paper. The three are shown layered on top of each other above. The first was a drawing (right) from one of the maps in Ancient landscapes of the Colorado Plateau of Pangaea, the "super-continent" that existed between 300,000 and 100,000 years ago. As that huge land mass began to break apart, the section that became the Four Corners region began its journey to where I live now. The second template was a tracing of the Fremont River and its tributary creeks, from a USGS map of our county. The third was a rendition of an imaginary segmented cliff face (the magenta composition in the final print, below left).

I then created a 12"x14" plate for each of the templates in turn, using the subtractive method. I coated each plate with, sequentially, pale gray, pale brown, and quinacridone magenta, then removed ink with paper towels and cotton swabs to leave only the lines of each image I was rendering. I ran each plate sequentially onto a piece of damp BFK Rives paper to produce the final result.

I can't say that this is a final work, as far as I am concerned, but I did achieve what I had hoped to do. It is a basis on which I think I can build toward that illusive imagined series of prints that reflect my strata theme: multiple passes through the press creating physical strata on the print itself, and images on the plates that also reflect the various aspects of the geology of this place where I live.

Monday, November 17, 2014

combining techniques


Inspired by Howard Hersh's work in Julia Ayres's Monotypes, I spent an intense morning trying to put together my skills and knowledge to date, to produce a satisfying print. I wanted to try blending, masking, multiple runs, and chine collé, all together.

First, I got out my AKUA Intaglio inks, and and blended four warm earthtones. Next, I planned a composition for two passes through the press, dividing the square 8"x8" plate with vertical pieces of tape for an effect of panes. I rolled on patches of the colors I had mixed in a random manner, blending edges to create a soft multi-hued surface, then removed the tape. I scattered pieces of dried grasses and leaves fairly randomly around the surface. The final plate is at left.


I cut and moistened a piece of Japanese rice paper, sprinkled it with wheat paste powder, laid it face down on the plate, and put the whole thing on the press bed. My grid paper for registration shows around the edges of the plate in the photo at right.

A well-moistened piece of BFK Rives 250 gm paper went on top, and I ran the ensemble through the press. The result was a clean but rather uninteresting print, which I'm not bothering to show here. The chine collé process went perfectly smoothly, though the rice paper is not obvious on the print. Also, as it dries, the print is wrinkling; I'll have to research how to press it flat, if possible. The rice paper must have inadvertently gotten stretched, and is contracting as it dries, causing the support paper to wrinkle.


For the second pass, I simply removed the plant matter from the plate, turned it 180 degrees so that the pattern printed differently, and ran the ghost plate on top of the original print, which I laid face up on the press bed to make placement of the plate easier. Some of the remaining ink covered what would have been white paper from the first pass, and other ink transferred to the print and added complexity to the composition. The effect was subtle, but very pleasing. The first pass may have been too densely colored for the full effect of the ghost to come through; I'll have to try more transparent ink, perhaps, or work with ghosts on top of ghosts.

I am pleased with the result, though I think it needs to be fine-tuned. In fact, I was so pleased that I repeated the process for another, slightly different print, left.


Sunday, November 9, 2014

questions of control

 One of the delights of monotype work is the unpredictable nature of the results. Still, I continue to seek some degree of control over both the process and the product. Today I did a single-pass 8"x8" print (at left) that came out as I wanted, except for the center-stage swipe of orange, which did not fade off in streaks as I intended but rather ended in a blob. I may simply not have made the appropriate stroke with the metal putty knife I was using to lay down the orange paint. Part of the problem was handling the paint on the plate, and the as-yet-unanswered question of when a second plate layer bleeds through the first, and when it will stay hidden behind. Is it a question of viscosity? The other, related question was, when is it necessary to wipe out of the first layer and paint into the blank spaces, rather than layer on top?

There are other reasons why I don't like the print: the line between the orange and green areas is too abrupt and needs some transitional marks; the black area comes down too far; the green area is too flat. I thought perhaps a ghost print might be closer to my original idea, but it turned out uneven and unsatisfactory.

Monday, October 27, 2014

learning to control the ink


I did a double-run print today, experimenting with opaque paints and the idea of an underlayer to a top-layer composition. The two plates are on the left in the photo, the underlayer plate at top and the "drawing" plate underneath. At the top right is the intended print, clearly too dark with too much ink. At the lower right is a single-run print that I took off of the already printed "drawing" plate, with an interesting atmosphere but not my original intention.

In principle, my method worked. The underlayers did show through, as I wanted. The problem was in the second plate, whose colors were too close in value and too heavily laid down to give the effect I sought. How to lighten up that second plate? Thinner layers? Greater distinctions in value? Clearer marks?

This was done in Gamblin relief ink.