Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Assignment 3 Submission and Reflection

My final submission for this assignment has been sent off. I've really enjoyed these pieces and am feeling much more confident about printmaking.

The last piece is the reflection against the criteria for each piece.

Reduction Linocut

  • Demonstration of Technical and Visual Skills
 For this print I think I have got a good command of my materials. I did lots of samples and feel confident with my mixing of colors and paper choice (caligo safe wash and fabriano rosapina). However, my technique still needs working on. Layer 6 was too dark and too thick, it took a long time to dry, I had to adjust the color of the next layer and the overall print was too dark as a result. The composition is simple but effective and the observational skills are good, I think the sense of form is effective, although there is too much shadowing on the oranges. Often when I draw I create values too dark, I need to work on this. 
  • Quality of Outcome
I think I could further apply what I learnt to the print. I researched some great uses of flat color but did not experiment enough with applying this to my design. 

  • Demonstration of Creativity
I chose a fairly safe subject, to concentrate on observation and printing skills. For my next reduction I will be more adventurous. I think my use of color was creative and created good impact.
  • Context
I found some interesting examples in my research which I think I analyzed effectively. I want to apply these ideas more to my artwork.

Experimental Test Linocuts

  • Demonstration of Technical and Visual Skills
These prints were clear and many of the marks were effective. I did not compose these into a design, I wonder now if I should have done more on this task.

Experimental Prints

  • Demonstration of Technical and Visual Skills
 In these prints I explored a range of papers which was very effective in my final prints. I am really pleased with the composition and texture.
  • Quality of Outcome
I think I communicated my idea of exploring my name in Arabic and English well. 
  • Demonstration of Creativity

    The experimentation I did for this print lead to a well developed idea. I presented these examples well in my blog. More sketching of these ideas may have allowed me to explore other options.
    • Context
    I researched some experimental prints which got me started with ideas for combining images, but went in a different direction. I will go back to the ideas I researched at some point.

    Sunday, 18 September 2016

    Dab Printing

    The last little piece for this  assignment is trying dab printing. I used a block from assignment 2 of palm trees. This block has some large uncut areas giving me a good surface to try dab printing on. Rather than make my own dabber I used a ready made one

    It was hard to get a thick enough layer of ink, these prints took a lot of burnishing.

    This first print lost some of its distinction between the colors. When trying to build up the ink to a thick enough layer the colors blended more than I wanted, but this is still an interesting texture.

    I tried to get better distinction between the colors on this one. In doing so the edges of the tool remained visible, the circles can be seen. This was also a bit patchy as it was hard to build up a thick layer of ink without blending the colors.

    Next time I try this I will try using a different dabber. I think if I made one out of cloth full of cotton wool it would not have the hard edges and would possibly absorb more ink.

    Saturday, 17 September 2016

    Experimental Prints

    I've done a lot of experimenting for this assignment, the last round of collaged and layered prints are here. Briefly, I used two blocks, one based on my initials in a Roman alphabet and one based on my name in Arabic, and layered these over each other, distorting and abstracting them, representing my life here in Saudi Arabia.

    My previous attempts at layering these were done while on holiday so I did not have access to my usual equipment and I tried using packaging papers. This time I had my whole stash of paper to play with and immediately got better results. 

    This print uses hosho paper, mulberry silk paper and caligo safe wash relief inks. I printed the Arabic block onto the silk paper, tore it, collaged it then printed a very sheer layer over the top. I'm really pleased how these textures worked together and the depth I have created. I have submitted this to be included in a Cloth Paper Scissors Reader Challenge and it has been selected and may appear in a future issue, very exciting! However, this means this print won't be part of my submission for this assignment.

    Details of textures.

    The next piece was my most successful. It is on a large piece of textured high rag content paper from Thailand, with the same caligo inks and mulberry silk paper. This time I used very pale translucent silk paper to create delicate sheer layers. I did not tear these this time. As I had strong rectangle shapes from my block of my initials I felt the rectangles of the paper would complement these. I added a final layer of translucent blocks as before which was again very effective. To place the blocks I put them on top of the paper then very carefully lifted both and turned them over before burnishing. I was skeptical this would work but found the oil based ink created a good connection between the block and the paper enabling me to turn them over without any smudging. I really enjoyed this process of building up an image in this way. I will create other works like this but need to explore some better adhesives for adhering the sheer papers.

    Detail shots:

     The final prints I made for this assignment used the same blocks but were registered on my jig, varying layers were created by rotating the blocks.

    I then added additional layers with the blocks turned 90 degrees.

    I'm really pleased with the composition of these. However, if i had time I would redo them with more interesting colors. I wanted to try layering light over dark with these but I think these could have been more interesting if I had used shades of two more different colors such as two primaries, and made the colors more translucent.

    Friday, 16 September 2016

    Completed Reduction Print

    This was a labour of love. 20+ hours. Design details here. With hindsight, 7 layers was too ambitious. Despite this it turned out well for a first attempt:

    This was the most successful, I also tried two other background options:

    Doing this made me realize the importance of the background color. I noticed on Picasso's prints that I looked at in my research that he printed the block uncut in a background color. I made a few cuts in the background block, they seemed so small at the time but now the print is finished they really stand out. 
    I think I made the shadows too big on the oranges, in particular above the oranges, that thick line at the top was not effective I wish I'd removed it after the red layer. The frustrating thing about reduction was there was no going back once I'd printed the blues layer.

    Despite making samples I still had to do a bit of fiddling with the colors as I went. I practiced and observed drying times and the finished print followed these successfully until layer 5. The 5th layer, blue was not successful. I applied too much ink and the color was much too dark. This layer dried very slowly, much slower than I anticipated due to the thickness of the ink. Unfortunately I did not observe the mistakes I was making until after I had printed the whole set of prints. This layer also smudged on a couple of the prints. As this layer was too dark I then had to adjust the other colors. In particular the brown had to be darker. It was important that this was the darkest value or the shadows did not make sense. The whole print is very dark due to this.

    Overall I'm pleased with it for a first attempt. Next time though, five colors max.

    Reduction Print Design Development

    Following on from my post about reduction print inspiration I have been drawing a still life of bowls of fruit for my reduction print for Assignment 3 OCA Introduction to Printmaking. In my previous post I observed how artist's have created form with simple shapes and flat color. I wanted to explore this, and explore creating shadows in complementary colors to the subject for a high impact image.

    I began by making some drawings of my subject, and kept drawing until I felt I knew the subject really well:

    I used inktense water soluble colored pencils and water soluble graphite for these. I then decided to try using some different media which would give me an experience of building layers of flatter color. I tried Promarkers as I know they are quite translucent so can be used for layering and give relatively flat color. I started as if I was working in reduction, I drew the whole base area in yellow marker, drew over with orange etc. This worked until green which unfortunately did not show over the top well. this helped me further analyse my subject but did not really give me an interpretation built up of flat color. The sharp lines in the fruit were effective and I could see these translating to reduction print well, an idea I took further instead of flat colors.

    I repeated this exercise with masking fluid and flat washes of watercolor:

    This was more successful but the colours are quite pale, particularly the red and orange. This helped me visualize how the shadows would work, in green blue and brown to differentiate between the different objects without outlining or variation in value.

    I tried this one more time with collage, trying to create flatter colors again but this was less successful:

    This second version is developed with colored pencil and white paint marker. I realize now to create a form with flat color you have to have absolute understanding of that form, to create the form more traditionally with contour lines and shading is actually easier. 

    These experiments allowed me to experiment with background colors and ways of showing the light. I want to show the light, but more simply than Picasso did in Still Life Under the Lamp.

    I will use the watercolor painting and value drawing as the main guide for my design, but will use the background and light colors of the marker drawing. I want to keep my cuts quite free so am starting with a background outline and building up the details by eye as I go.

    Sunday, 11 September 2016

    Colour Layering Samples

    I follow a Facebook group called Linocut Friends. On this group there have been many recent discussions about reduction prints being very slow to dry. So, I thought about the available time I have for finishing assignment 3 and decided that creating samples would be sensible. The first sample I did compared two similar groups of colors which I plan to use in my reduction print. I also compared the effect of using inks with and without extender.

    I noted which inks I used below and the bottom row of each pair is 50/50 extender and ink, the top row is just ink. The group discussions often commented that red was the slowest drying color so I compared two different reds; naphthol and rubine. All inks are caligo safe wash oil based relief inks, and the paper is Fabriano Rosapina.

    This was very, very useful. I first of all learnt that the naphthol red gave a much smoother print, the rubine was quite patchy. This is not very clear on the photo of the sample below, but there was a big difference.

    I was surprised by how the greens came out. 

    The process blue (cyan) made a very bright green, I got a much better color with the prussian blue. These inks are so intense that color mixing can be really hard. To create green I used tiny, tiny amounts of blue and still got a very dark green.

    When I got to the darker layers the 50/50 extender ratio was too transparent, but pure ink was a bit patchy, this did not make much difference to drying time.

    I used this as an opportunity to practice blotting between layers, something I have not done before. I tried a few papers but found construction paper and pressure from a brayer most effective.

    As to drying time, I left 24 hrs between layers and up until the last layers that was long enough for all layers to be dry before applying the next coat. There is 7 layers in total and only the last two, blue and brown/black took longer than 24hrs to dry. However, these last two layers are still tacky a week later. I think the absorbent Rosapina paper helped, I've made other multi-layered prints on less absorbent paper with much slower drying time. Possibly by layers 6 and 7 the paper cannot absorb any more ink?