Thursday, 25 August 2016

Experimental print experiments

So far my inspiration for this part of the course has been based around calligraphy and lettering. I've developed these ideas and now have two blocks inspired by NJA MAHDAOUI  and Arabic calligraphy and one inspired by music notation, Paul Klee and the process of creating my experimental block. Here are prints of my two blocks:

This is based on my name in Arabic cut in lino

And this is based in my initials in a Roman alphabet cut in japanese ply with files and nails.

I tried layering these

This print is on a paper bag. The paper was not absorbent so this took a very long time to dry and was a bit patchy.

I love the shapes created by repeating and layering this block, further abstracting the calligraphy.

These blocks are quite small, (15x20cm) so I would like to make a bigger piece by more repeating and layering. I also started to include collage of tissue papers printed with the same blocks which were semi transparent when laid over the other papers. All of these papers were packaging papers I found, many were not absorbent enough for effective printing.

These are my first two attempts, the second one was much better for tearing the paper and printing over it again. I developed this more:

Overall I created some nice textures here and am more pleased with the composition of this piece as the balance of value works better.

This composition is a bit jumbled.

I don't know whether to continue with this idea or try to rearrange my blocks with less collage and more composition through printing. I have some lovely silk tissue papers to try.

I originally wanted to add a third block to this, or even more, in foam, possibly portraits of my children but this is much harder than I anticipated. Maybe that stage of development will come for the final submission.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Reduction Print Inspiration

I've looked at a few examples of reduction prints in preparation for developing my own design for Assignment 3 OCA Introduction to Printmaking. My original plan was to take a simple subject, a still life of some description, and try to create a clear form with accurate shadows and contours, like I did with my shell print in assignment 2. However, the prints I found of simple still life compositions do not create traditional forms in this way, yet they still make visual sense and have extremely high impact.

The most striking and well known of these is Still Life Under the Lamp, Picasso, 1962:

In this print there is striking contrast between the areas that are lit by the lamp, and those that aren't. The shadows on the apples are stark but do create a sense of form despite their simplicity. It is a very busy design. It has two areas of focus, the bulb and the glass. Many of the lines radiate from the bulb giving it emphasis as well as the white in the bulb. However, the larger area of white in the glass competes with this. I also wonder about the order of printing, which was first red or green? While I admire the technical skill and inventive approach to a simple subject, I am looking for a simpler aesthetic for my design, however I am very interested in the simple form of those apples.

This print is also at the British museum, but there is no image on line, Jacqueline Lisant, 1964

In a more traditional composition Picasso has used a comb to make interesting textures to create the shading then a separate block for the dark lines. I can imagine the comb lines being made quite freely, and love the looseness of this, the softness created by this texture is so different to the stark lines traditionally cut into lino. These highlights and shadows give a sense of form in a completely different way.

I have an exhibition catalogue, from 1990 of Picasso Linocuts containing these and many other prints, in the foreword it attributes the 'revolutionary method' of reduction linocut as an evolution of technique pioneered by Picasso. I cant help thinking though that surely for as long as people have been carving print blocks from any kind of material some form of reduction printing would have taken place, although it may not have been called this. The book goes on to say 'this required amazing forethought and an overall conception of the image as a whole, prior to printing' (Rossi). This is a statement I do agree with, and one I experienced with my multi block print for the last assignment.

Another artist I have looked at is Patrick Caulfield, these striking screenprints have simple compositions which make a big impact. I want to do a still life and notice how these images use simple composition rules such as the rule of thirds, and careful use of colour to create emphasis, and would  mostly work as reduction prints. Despite the flat colour and absence of shadows they still look like 3d objects, has the subtle use of perspective achieved this? Is this because the objects are so familiar, I am seeing form without it being represented? The Coloured Still Life, below, leads me to wonder what are the minimum elements of a still life that create form? I've started doing some designing and will try some pared down versions in response to this.

This print also uses layering to great effect, but this one would not work as a reduction. The shadows here create depth, even with such a small colour palette and little detail this image feels like leaves above the ground. I think the use of colour is important here, I know leaves are green and shadows are more likely to be a cool blue, so the image makes sense and the layers achieve depth.

Friday, 12 August 2016

Experimental Blocks

Assignment 3 of OCA Printmaking 1 requires creating a test linocut with experimental marks made from different tools. I was fairly limited in terms of tools available, I did not have access to power tools. I tried 3 different surfaces, wood, lino and foam. The wood was called Japanese Ply from Intaglio. It was very hard to cut. I imagined making clean straight lines with files and saws, this was much harder than I imagined. I also tried using chisels, screw drivers, nails and screws.

Of the tools that I hammered such as chisels, screw drivers and nails only the sharpest of these was effective, the others caused the wood to split. Small holes from nails and small chisels could make interesting textures in a print. The saw and file lines were much harder to achieve than I anticipated. The saw skidded making scratches and unclear lines. The file was easier to control but took an awful lot of time to make cuts deep enough to use in a print block.

My original plan for this block was to make a version of my initials, developing my lettering theme, in contrast to the curves of Arabic Calligraphy. My initial design had to be significantly revised after this block, I thought using a more stable block would enable me to cut these fine lines with no risk of it crumbling, but it would be too hard to cut all those lines with the tools I have available.

I made a similar range of marks in my lino block. The chisel marks also needed to be quite sharp but I got better results from tools such as screwdrivers in this softer block. Saw and file marks were equally hard to cut.

I don't anticipate using these marks for my experimental block as I am planning on cutting smooth curves based on Arabic Calligraphy which are unsuited to these tools. 

Lastly I used a sheet of foam which I was able to make marks in from a big range of household tools.

I used a range of drawing tools and kitchen items and got great varied results. I can see this being a great surface for printmaking due to the immediacy of the results. It would need to be mounted to make it easier to handle as it could be easily damaged and all marks would show on the print. I love the idea of drawing some portraits on this to print with.