I am returning to part four now that I have finished assignment five to make so changes to hopefully improve the standard of my prints, by far my least successful set of work was the printing in part 4 of the course. My tutor suggested that I re-visit the exercises which I have now done and I am a bit happier with the results this time. I knew where the problem lay with the first set of prints in that I had not used the correct tools or media. The prints were wet and un-defined. I had created some interesting backdrops for working into but from a printing point of view it was a disaster. So I have returned to the start and re-run the exercises to try to improve. I work at a school now so spoke to colleagues in the art department to get some hints. The graduate assistant has just finished her degree in printmaking which is useful to know!
Armed with some hints and tips from my colleagues some brand new printing inks and rollers I set to work. My first few prints were investigating mark making. I chose a slightly different colour scheme from my original prints to help differentiate between them but still work together as a body of work when it comes to assessment. For my first print I used a brush, pencil, rag and twigs to make marks. As suggested by my tutor I concentrated on what I was doing with the tool whilst I made the marks, angling and twisting them as I went. The result is a pretty clear, crisp print with interesting background texture and markings. This is so much better than my original first prints. I then tried to take a second print to see what the difference would be:
The second print is much rougher, lighter in colour and a lot less refined. You can still see the pattern coming through but not nearly so clearly. The ‘scribble like’ background markings are due to me using a spoon to rub the back in an attempt to pick up more ink.
My third and fourth prints were created using an old seed head to create marks in the ink. I used the stalk and head rolling the edges through the ink and scuffing the surface with the tool. It created some very nice fine lines and scratchy marks; again I took two prints to see what would happen. I definitely prefer the first prints as they are a lot clearer although the lighter version of this print would work well as a graffiti style background
The fifth print used a spoon to make markings. I tried using the head and handle of the spoon, angling the spoon as I dragged it through the ink in attempt to produce as interesting marks as I could.
After taking a second print from the spoon made plate I felt it was time to move on to the next exercise. This was to draw onto the plate and take a print. It all sounded really easy but as I had found out last time it certainly isn’t. The ink dries quite quickly so the first colour is almost dry before you have finished the second and by the time you go to take a print there is hardly any wet ink left! This is what happened to my first print I must say though that I quite like the effect. Had I printed on a different colour paper I think it could have worked quite well.
For my second attempt I laid down a layer of ink then drew over the top attempting to add a background that was intrinsic to the print as well as helping with the drying problem. This created a very different effect from the first and I was quite pleased with this different style. It is more posterized than the first, a lot darker and atmospheric.
The third print in this set did not go so well as I tried to remove some of the sky colour but feel that I went too far. I think it dried the paint again so hardly any was left in this area. My husband felt that it reminded him of a misty evening at the beach as its getting dark so I guess that’s one way of looking at it.
I now moved onto the next exercise which was to draw from the back. I had real difficulty with the first attempts at this with only one semi decent print coming from it. I had been told to keep the ink as sparse as possible and quite dry so as to not spread all over the picture. This I dis and I also used a pen rather than a pencil which really seemed to help. My first print was a rough drawing of a shell. I used a piece of paper that I had already prepared using wax rubbed over a surface. This added to the beach feel. I like the lines in this piece and the way that slight marks add to the background texture.
Continuing with the beach theme I roughly drew one of the sketches I had taken from my sketchbook of an anemone. Again a really good result I was so excited that it had worked at last!
My final print uses the same beach scene as before. This time I used plain white paper and black ink trying to create a simple look. This I think is my favorite of all. It is so simple and actually looks how I wanted it too. It captures the essence of the rocky shoreline perfectly without any complicating factors, simple lines and inferred textures bring it together.
Finally I re-visited using stencils. this time I chose to use some plants from my garden. One was a decaying hollyhock leaf, the other a fern frond. I used the same procedure for both pieces:
- Ink up the plate
- Lay the stencil on top
- Take a print
- Remove the stencil
- Take a print
The detail in the second prints is amazing and this is something I will definitely be trying again with different plants in the future. I really like the lines produced but also the background texture. A similar effect could be achieved by simply printing with the leaf but you would not achieve the background texture or the level of detail.
I had really enjoyed this part of the course and was disappointed with the feedback for this part as I quite liked some of the prints I made and will be keeping some of them for final prints. I do accept that they could be crisper though so I re-ran my prints to see if I could improve on the first attempts:
Again my first set of prints are really about experimenting with the technique. The collaged block worked better this time with the new ink and I did manage to get a reasonable print from it. The polyfilla block however still continued to be hard to print from. Both blocks tended to move whilst I was printing. Without a press it is so easy to slide it about ever so slightly to cause a double exposed print. I tried a few times but really couldn’t improve much on it so I have admitted defeat and moved on to the other blocks to see if they would print any better.
I did have a little more success with these blocks, after a few attempts I did manage to get some good, clean prints from them. They lacked some of the texture from the first time that I printed with them though and don’t excite me any where near as much. I think this may be partly down to the colour. On the first set of prints I mixed colours in a rainbow like effect on these blocks which made them look a lot more exciting. These are just too plain for me but they are sharper and more defined this time round.
The real exception is the following print. I had liked the original prints I had taken using this block but with more definition it works even better, It is really atmospheric and looks like a stormy sea.
It was a steep learning curve but I am pleased to have persevered and feel that I did create some reasonable outcomes once I had gone back to revise and re-do parts on the advice of my tutor. I have included both the good and bad as a comparison and to show my progression.