Friday, 15 April 2016

Palm Trees

When looking at ways of telling my story through art after gaining some inspiration from watching some high school art classes I decided to represent different stages of my life with prints of plants that remind me of those periods. The first one I chose as it is the most readily available is palm tress, representing my current life stage, living in Saudi Arabia. I drew some pictures of trees to start with:

In this drawing I brought a large leaf inside and drew it. This leaf was a bit damaged and had some interesting bent leaves and overlapping lines.

In this drawing I was interested in the shadows created by the trees, and was thinking this could make an interesting exploration of tonal counterpoint.

Here I tried laying the outline of the broken leaf over some patterns. I made a background of half arabic shapes and similar traditional patchwork shapes which would represent my background in sewing. The bent leaf is interesting as all my other drawings, including some others not included here I discovered how uniform palm trees are. They all have very neat leaves with little variation in shapes. I think this almost unnatural uniformity reflects the landscape here which is largely artificial and man made. This design, in particular the bent leaf, shows my occasionally scatty and unpredictable personality in combination with this rigidly ordered place, however, it became too complicated to print in a single block, and I may revisit this later as a multiple block print. I also felt I needed to do a more detailed drawing for the foundation of this design.

I decided to simplify this and make a print of just a tree, as a practice of cutting and printing a more intricate design, I may develop this later. I wanted the design to be an energetic composition so I used diagonal lines to create energy. I tried out some compositions with my camera

I decided including the trunk of the tree made the image stronger and the leaves coming out upwards had lots of energy. I drew this directly on the block from life and then traced it onto a second block so I could cut this in positive and negative.

I cut the negative block first. I was able to get a clear print of this by using thin Japanese paper or banana tissue paper and caligo inks. I also tried printing it in a light colour on dark paper but this was less successful. There were places where the leaves overlap where I was cutting lots of overlapping lines. Unfortunately the lino crumbled when I did this leaving some white spots. I like how the trunk came out with its variety of lines it is clearer and more interesting.

The positive print took forever to cut, and I realise now I have missed a couple of lines in between the bottom of the branches. I really like the energy of the small lines in the large cut away areas. I wanted to make a lively composition to reflect the busyness and energy of this period in my life and I think this really reinforces this.

I found some cotton rag paper with inlaid flower petals which I tried for printing and it soaked up so much ink giving a much darker image. The top pint is the back of the paper without the petals showing, the bottom has the petals on this side. The petal moved when I removed the paper but this gave me an idea to try using this deliberately with petals as masks on a later print.

What was successful?

These prints were very useful cutting exercises. I learnt how much detail is possible, and how well this detail transfers to different papers.
The texture of the trunk of the tree was successful due to its diverse lines and textures.

What was not successful?

In the negative print I lost some detail when the lino crumbled through try to cut detailed textures of overlapping leaves.
The image was quite 2D, creating an image of overlapping leaves was very hard in one block.

Ideas to be developed:

I would like to take these shapes into a more adventurous  composition which expresses a bit more about what the trees represent to me. I may explore:
  • A new compoisiton also based on these trees using multiple blocks to show overlapping leaves
  • A piece created with a combination of these blocks 
  • Dab printing with them. 
  • Printing them over a different block or monoprinted background

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