Printmaking 1 Part 1 Project 2 Positive and Negative masked Monoprints – The Design

Finding a Design

This project involved creating a design which works well as both a positive and a negative shape.  When studying shibori textile dyeing in Japan, my teacher was very keen that his students thought carefully about the negative and well as the positive space when designing the shibori patterns. I took great interest in Notan, which means dark-light and is a design principle relating to the relationship between dark/light or positive/negative space. I found it easier to understand when using abstract images but it became more problematic when considering recognisable shapes/forms as the eye is always drawn to the recognised shape or positive space. For the principle of Notan to apply, the eye has to be drawn equally to the positive and the negative space. The aim then, would be to distort the recognisable form is such a way as to lessen it’s impact in favour of th negative space.

I looked at Matisse’s blue nudes and how he transformed the shape of a human figure so that it is still recognisable but forms a more interesting negative shape. I wanted to use a recognisable shape which although distorted is still recognisable but doesn’t detract from the negative space. First of all I looked at everyday implements and did some sketches of scissors, distorting them:


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I then made some paper cut-outs of selected shape on black paper and stuck them down on white paper to emphasis the positive and negative shapes.

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I thought these worked really well as cutouts as you can see they are scissors but the shapes formed are more exciting.

Then I looked at the human figure. Not having a human being handy to pose for me, I used a wooden mannequin which I moved into different uses and sketched. I then did some more sketches, this time distorting the figure slightly. I worked very quickly, trying to form the shapes in a continuous line as suggested in the manual.

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I decided to concentrate on two poses : one sitting; one running and made some cutouts from black paper and stuck them down in the same way as I had done with the scissors.

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Making the Masks

I decided that the figure cutouts both lent themselves to monoprinting and finally chose the running figure as I could envisage a variety of prints and multiple prints developing form this design. I will put the other cutouts to one side and try them out later but for now will concentrate on printing the running man.

I redrew the design onto a pace of cartridge paper the same size as my acrylic printing plate and then cut three templates, keeping the negative templates, including the space in the arm.





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