Monday, 19 December 2016

Collagraph Prints Assignment 4

 The first block I tried to print was my intaglio block based on sand paper with areas of thick acrylic medium painted on. Here is the block looking promising:

It was not successful at all. I tried varied amounts of ink and pressure in my new little press but it gave very patchy results. I think the sandpaper was the cause of this. It is clearly no substitute for carborundum grit and does not hold ink in the same way, or I used too much varnish. Either way, I think that the carborundum or sandpaper is not best for large areas like in this block.

These were too patchy to be used in this assignment and I had to go back to the drawing board. before I did that I took some prints of my other prepared block which I made with mount board and string.

I wanted to see what textures I got from this before deciding how to proceed. I was pleased with the results, all though looking at these now i could have been much more adventurous with the colors. 

With each new impression I got more background ink around the leaves. I quite like this, it is an interesting texture. When I tried to wipe the background of the flowers clean the slightest smear of leftover ink showed up strongly. I much prefer the untouched ink to any half cleaned smears. I variably inked the flowers with a dabber, which I was pleased with, but could have been more adventurous about. I tried inking the string leaves with a dabber and a roller, there was little difference. Perhaps if I had used a bigger roller I would have got cleaner results. In the last print I tried to create contrast by using a complementary color inside the flowers, this quickly got muddied into a dull color as the colors mix very easily when dabbing.

I created a new block based on the same outline using different fabrics to create texture with the leaves. The fabric I used was very absorbent and this block took a long time to dry before I could use it, leaving me with limited printing time before traveling for the Christmas holidays.

My daughter has drawn on this in red pen.

I got some nice textures with the two blocks combined and was able to make much better use of complementary colors in two layers as the colors did not blend on the block and it was easier to ink without the colors blending.

The textures are subtle but combined with the textures created by the first block of ink in the gaps between the leaves this is quite a lively texture. I am please with these two prints overall as the complementary colors worked well and the image is nicely balanced. Inspired by my exploration work I got out of my comfort zone of cool color schemes and successfully created something brighter.

I would like to develop this by practicing different inking methods on these blocks. One of the artist's I researched, Stefan barton, described collagraph as a type of monotype pulled from collaged plates. I found the variable inking I did the colors got muddied very quickly so i need to look into different ways of applying the ink to vary the results.

I got some nice ghost prints from this:

This print was both blocks as ghost prints. The textures of the fabric in the leaves is clearer with less ink. This is hard to achieve as the block holds a lot of ink.

This print was just the ghost of the fabric leaves block. The flowers had transferred onto the block from the print, which in turn printed onto the paper. These ghost prints show there are many more ways of inking blocks, thin layers of ink like this can be used very interestingly and I could overprint thin layers like this for new interesting textures.

My original plan was to try and explore the colors of the pieces of music I investigated through variable inking. I do not feel I have scratched the surface of this, or any other ideas I might express through variable inking. I chose a simple subject with a view to creating interest in the inking techniques. As my fist sandpaper block was not successful I ran out of time to explore this in the depth I would have liked. This is not to say i have not produced work I am pleased with. I do think I learnt a lot about color mixing and application of ink, it was just all more difficult than I anticipated and the more advanced ideas I have will be revisited at various points along this journey.

In terms of assessment:

  • Demonstration of Technical and Visual Skills - materials, techniques, observational skills, visual awareness, design and compositional skills
    I think I have shown strong design and compositional skills, albeit in the context of a simple design. The print is balanced and contains good contrast of textures and values.
    My techniques have improved considerably, there is still a long way to go. Whether or not some of the textures I have created are viewed as 'correct,' the ink around the leaves in the string block created textures I like, I'm not sure they will be seen like that by others.
  • Quality of Outcome - content, application of knowledge, presentation of work in a coherent manner, discernment, conceptualisation of thoughts,communication of ideas
    I have applied some knowledge about color well here, but I did not manage to express my original ideas about color and music clearly. Possibly the level of my ideas is the area that needs to be adjusted in line with my skills to create more coherent outcomes. I do feel a bit frustrated that my ideas are more complicated than what I can achieve in print. I'm trying to take a long view and hope to revisit my more complex ideas in the next assignment.
  • Demonstration of Creativity - imagination, experimentation, invention, development of a personal voice
    I don't feel I have achieved as high here as I could have. I know that often in art ideas can be taken further but I feel now when reflecting on these prints a week after completing them that I could have experimented more. I felt so proud of the experimental print I completed in assignment 3 and I want to try and take this simple block in a more experimental direction. To do this I need to explore the variable inking process further. I am now traveling so cannot do this until after the break.
  • Context - reflection, research, critical thinking (learning log) 
    In this assignment I have pushed myself to develop a stronger sketchbook habit and completed quite detailed reflections of this process. This is the strongest area of this assignment and I hope will set me up for future assignments with better working practices. I think I have moved away from working to a predetermined outcome. In assignment 3 to some degree I had the finished outcome in mind before I opened my sketchbook. This time I gave myself more time and held back from thinking in outcomes. Possibly I took this too far, and my outcomes lacked direction.

    In short, this assignment has left me with some unfinished exploration. Whether or not I continue that exploration with new work and new designs or revisit this block will depend on feedback from my tutor and how my new ideas develop before I get home.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Design Development 2

I knew I wanted to base my collagraph print on the many drawings I have recently made in my sketchbook of plants and flowers. I have been following access art drawing prompts, many of which revolved around simple objects, so felt it would be illogical not to base my design on these. I hope to also take inspiration from my music explorations in the way of colors when printing.

Initially all of my design ideas were in layers. I found it hard to switch off this aspect of my planning having been so pivotal to the design process before when i made my multi block prints.

In this design I wanted to use sections of 3 drawings of different scales layered over each other to create contrast, each layer being made up of different collatype textures. This layering was not hugely effective, it was too busy and there is a lot of empty space in this design. I need to give the individual elements more space.

This design was a development of the previous design. I wanted to create the backgrounds with string but realized it would be very difficult to create such a complex, representational texture. The composition was stronger, as the different elements work together and complement each other better with more space around them. In my next design I need to maintain this balance but try some textures that would be easier to create in a collage block.

In one of my practice blocks I used sandpaper and painted on gesso to create an intaglio block. I tried using watercolour and masking fluid to explore possible designs using this technique.

This one lost its way, I don’t really know what I was trying to create in the second layer here. The first layer was successful, the use of the masking fluid was successful and could potentially translate to the intaglio block. I hadn't really figured out what technique I was going to use with the second laser, I just played with masking another area. Looking at it now I can see the white of the first mask leaps out makes this unbalanced.

This was more successful due to the more open texture of the top layer. The top layer here would be relief with two contrasting textures, the flowers being flat dense colour of mountboard, the leaves being open line work of string. I think this was successful because the white areas are balanced, as are the dark areas of the mount board flowers. The varying scales of the leaves is more subtle and creates contrast without unbalancing the image.

I hadn’t really explored 1 block images so tried this in the next design. I like the graphic quality of this:

The balance is successful in terms of value and lines and shapes. There is good contrast between the line based texture and the blocks. I feel this could be challenging to create and print, the mount board is hard to cut and there is a lot of it. I don't know if there is an alternative to using string for the line based background, perhaps a thick acrylic medium? I am finding this process challenging and while I think this could be one of my more successful designs I know it could be difficult. Trying to create all the interest in one block is a new set of challenges, potentially the block has to be more intricate to create enough interest. Conversely, a simple block such as the mount board flowers on their own allow for a big range of possibilities for variable inking.

I went back to two layers in this design exploring transparency.

I think this is less successful as the transparent flowers don't achieve the contrast of the previous design. Not to say it couldn't be inked in a solid color. I think the main reason this does not work as well is because the line flowers are too similar in outline shape to the main flowers, they should be in more contrast by filling the rest of the block and white areas.

In the end I chose this design because I felt it had the biggest range of textures and the range of techniques used would allow me the biggest variation in inking techniques. I was very torn between this and the one block design with the red pink and yellow flowers as this would also allow for varied inking techniques. 

Design Development

I displayed a lot of my drawings together to try and think of a way to develop some designs that grew from my explorations. I saw an artist doing this recently as a major part of her creative practice and wanted to try it.

I hoped to find a way to connect my music collages to my drawings.

I thought I would be drawn to the Bach collage and it’s colours, but instead I was struck by the brightness of the Mingus collages, and the yellow flower drawings. This made me consider how much I stick to familiar colour schemes and using music as a source of inspiration could be a useful tool to explore different combinations. I don’t know what I was expecting to come out of this review process, but other than colour I do not feel I made any significant new connections between my music collages and my drawings. The artist I observed doing reviewing her work in this way works to very open outcomes, her work could be 2 or 3D, big small, any media or setting. I am working to a fixed outcome, does this mean the music explorations have limited applications? Is this a bad thing? It is like a limited palette of colours that might be used to develop colour mixing skills. If I had any possible outcome available to me at this stage in the creative process which direction would my thoughts be going in now? I find this question very hard to answer as I don’t have a big range of skills at my disposal. I know if the current assignment did not specify a representational theme I would definitely be exploring music and art connections in much more abstract visual forms. Maybe to keep this exploration genuine I need to take this in an abstract direction, and not think about the assignment at all. This is not to say exploring connections between music and art cannot be representational at some stage, but the music I have been using to create my visual association collages is purely abstract, so I am unsure how I could apply this to a representational image. Maybe this highlights part of the problem in my working practices. I have found a theme to explore that is bigger than this particular assignment and it makes me question if I should be working or thinking in discrete assignments at all.

So this activity has raised many questions, it has also given me some ideas to develop further:

I could use a piece of music to create a style or theme to apply to an image. I could take lines and colors inspired by the music to style an image or take a simple block and use variable inking to create the theme on the block with colors. 

I could create a varied series of the same block each variation with a colour theme from a different piece of music. 

The question remains, would this work on a representational image? If I took a simple block would the image need to make some connection to the music?

As I am creating a representational image for my collagraph, I think I want to put some of these ideas on hold, and work on my assignment mainly as a development of my drawings of flowers. I can use color to apply one of my music 'themes' to this block, but I'm not sure really I have that idea figured out in my head yet.