Sunday, June 22, 2014

a few experiments

The studio is set up, and I have all the essential supplies with which to work. Our friend Jan is going to build a couple of shelves to go under the press table in the next week or so, surfaces on which I can store paper and other flat supplies. At the moment, with only the press and my drafting table, I have to shift things around every time I move from one phase of the process to another: tearing paper, putting it to soak, preparing the plate, blotting the paper, running everything through the press, blotting the result, and putting the print to dry between flat surfaces with weights on top. It is somewhat chaotic, and rather exhausting. And it pulls my attention away from the essential creative process. Still, the basic set-up works well, and I am satisfied that my studio can become a comfortable mini printing workshop.

I have completed a series of single-pass monotypes, borrowing ideas from Ayres's book. They are all painted with multiple colors on a single plate, using oil paints straight from the tube and printing onto dampened paper. The process has worked beautifully. I have used brayers to roll on small areas of color arranged around the plate (rather than covering the whole plate and wiping out, as in the multiple-pass technique I discussed the other day). Then I have removed some areas, scratched into others, blended edges, and experimented with oil crayons and and colour scrapers to both add and remove paint. I also have spritzed with mineral spirits to see what kind of effect it produced.

Some of these techniques are similar to those I use with oil and cold wax medium (CWM), but the similarity ends there. The build-up of layers that is the essence of the CWM process and its result simply cannot be done in monotype; the quality of printing onto paper is radically different from painting onto a rigid surface; the absorption of the medium into the paper fibers produces a completely different effect from the build up of layers of wax. Still, some of the mindset is the same, a fascination with color and texture in an abstract approach. As I work from other artists' examples in the book ("how did they do that? can I get the same effect?"), I keep in mind the intention to create my own compositions and messages, once I have gathered a toolbox of techniques. For the moment, the process is what fascinates.

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