Saturday, 28 May 2016

Multi Block Print

For my multi block print I chose to print a local mosque. I made sketches from several angles:

All of these were drawn from life and are in my small sketch book. I was looking at the contrast of textures between the trees and the geometric shapes of the buildings initially.

I chose a viewpoint and did some more detailed drawings, also in my little sketch book:

Inspired by Mark Hearld and his experimental collages, and his  use of collage to learn about composition and working in layers for printing, I used these in combination with photographs to develop some collages of potential layouts:

In this design I copied the shape of the melody of the call to prayer to create the lines in the sky. I didn't find this very effective, its contours were too narrow. 

This colour example used the same lines in the sky and I developed the sun more. I had wanted to include trees like this but found that the scale did not work. I had just cut my palm tree single colour block and knew how hard it would be to get a suitable texture to make this work as it would involve too much detail. I didn't like the trees like this, they were too crude.

In this example I developed the buildings more. I used perspective to give them a more clear form which I found very successful. I began to cut this design in separate blocks. I used a jig made from plywood for registration and glued the lino to plywood blocks.

I reinforced the use of perspective and shadows by adding texture to the bottom of the buildings. There will be another layer over this, this is to show through subtly.

I added highlights to the domes. I learnt from my shell print the importance of creating these highlights and shadows to show the form of the object.

I wanted to develop this so went back to Mark Hearld. 

He has birds in many of his compositions soaring across the skyline, this creates energy and movement. I tried this out in my design. I photocopied it and then added birds:

I was really pleased with the energy this created. However, I felt I should do a bit more investigation before settling on the design. I drew some birds, from photos, the birds here are all hiding from the sun:

I drew these with promarkers, I like these because they are translucent and I can layer colours with them. This will be very useful for exploring layers. I then created another collage, trying to maintain the energy of Hearld's soaring flocks with birds based on my own drawings:

I traced the birds from my drawings and got more natural, less stylised shapes.  I added this to the sky block and overprinted some of my plain sky blocks as a small reduction detail. I also cut birds from the lower block. I inverted the upper birds when I cut them, an idea inspired by Hearld, and his use of tonal counterpoint. In this print where the birds are printed over dark blue they do not appear inverted, they only appear inverted when they are printed over white in later prints.

In this print I also didn't ink the purple over the bottom half of the block so the lower birds show up more clearly as they are printed against a white background. 

I cut a bit more away from the purple block for the final print as I wanted some white to show through to balance with the birds in the sky, which now appear inverted, however these did not show up well. I had to experiment with colour mixing a lot to get a colour for the bottom section which showed through the texture of the bottom block, although this is not very clear in the photo. I used a lot of extender to make the translucent layer.

What was successful?

In this print the use of perspective, including the underprinting of shadows of the purple on the buildings was successful as it gave the buildings form, making the image make more sense visually. The two colours layered also created depth.

The addition of the birds was also very succesful, creating interest and movement in the composition.

What was not successful?

Registration, as I do not have access to ready mounted cut lino, or a hardware shop that can cut wood really accurately, my blocks were not exactly the same size. It was really hard to transfer the image onto the exact position on the block. I transferred the design with acrylic medium and a photocopy, pasted on, then the paper gently removed. This left some residue on the blocks making it hard to get a completely even print.The wood blocks were also not completely flat making the blocks uneven so I had to burnish some areas really hard to get a good print. Possibly this design would have been more suited to the reduction method. The highlights I added to the lower birds did not show well due to registration problems and this affected the balance.

I should have had some purple in the sky, I think a fourth colour, yellow highlights would also have lifted this.  By adding some purple texture in the sky  I could have explored layering of the purple and blue. Yellow highlights across the design it would have unified it and accented the birds. I realise now how difficult it is to add details like this after cutting has begun, and how well developed the design needs to be before printing starts.

Ideas to be developed:

Next time I do a multi block print I will choose a design like this one by David Salle where the blocks are of completely different images:

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