Having worked with some abstract paintings on the printing plate, we were now asked to make an image, starting with some sketches of two contrasting objects. I chose a little still-life comprising of a cast metal seated figurine and a tall wooden vase, which I thought would offer contrast. I drew some sketches and then went on to paint the composition onto the printing plate.
This was where I straight away ran into problems. I tried to apply the ink to fill in the negative shape behind the objects first but the ink kept separating and I had to apply it very thickly. I then quickly painted the figurine and vase but quickly realised that the figurine was too complicated and i should have chosen a simpler shape which provided a clear outline. I wiped some of the ink off (thinking of Degas’ technique) and added some darker ink to give some tonal value. I pulled a print and found the ink had taken very thickly with little texture. I pulled two more prints from the same plate which produced more pleasing results. The drawing was quickly executed and I hadn’t allowed enough room for the vase – I should have wiped off this ink but didn’t think of this at the time!
I decided to try again with a simple composition, choosing a small enamelled jug and ceramic bowl. This time I didn’t try to replicate the colours but chose contrasting colours and concentrated on the shapes and shadows. Still tricky to execute as getting enough ink on the plate and painting the objects before the ink dried was difficult. I didn’t want to add too much medium as I found in previous experiments that if the ink was diluted too much, the ink spread out too much and I didn’t want to lose the shape of the objects. The results was a little more scratchy and textured than the least one but I preferred the painting on the plate to the print!
We were then asked to explore a variety of themes to include still-life, figures, landscapes and to enjoy the spontaneous results we could achieve and freedom of working directly onto the printing plate. At this stage I was feeling quite despondent as I couldn’t quite see the point. Why not just paint a picture? Still I persevered and sketched another still-life of a silver cafetiere and other objects in my kitchen.
I painted a quick picture of the composition, using the diluted ink but just concentrated on the objects rather than the negative space. this time the ink splurged and made some unexpected blots when the print was pulled. Oh dear, a disaster! I was pleased though that my husband recognised the coffee pot straight away and liked the print! Encouraging but lots and lots of practice needed. Degas made it look easy!
Following this, I decided to try to just relax and have fun so I painted some quick figures and cityscapes from my imagination and pulled some more prints.
I also had a go at wiping off some of the ink with a rag and some tools to get some texture. This worked quite well with the cityscapes.
I enjoyed adding more colours to my palette.
I then decided to have a go at painting from photos and chose several magazine pictures. It was all fun and experimental and I quite liked the effects but am eager to get on to the next stage of working with masks so will come back to this later, in combination with other techniques.
* I have just watched a video of artist Stuart Shils demonstrating a mono print. I found it really interesting. He produces painterly monotypes in his studio, working from notes, drawings and memory. He works quickly, thinking about the relationships of size and shape. He adds that you can’t make a mistake as it is easy to wipe the plate and start again! \He talks about the important of the quality of tones relationships in the painting. He starts with a ground piece that he prints then paints another plate which he lays over. He works intuitively at this point, no longer referring to the drawings. After he’s added the second layer, he works o the print with pastel and graphite.
The video has inspired me to have another go!