Masked prints

When I was following a watercolour course with OCA I got irritated with the fact that the subject matter was so prescribed. This course is different. It’s harder to think about WHAT to paint but it’s a useful dialogue to have with oneself…

Images- static or dynamic- I wanted the latter. Human figure, something recognisable. Started with an image of a woman in the rain with an umbrella. It came from a painting by Paul Serusier, “L’Averse”. I thought it had a distinctive shape, suitable for the purpose.

In my first cut, I got it wrong and had a spare bit of paper, a second negative shape,  which I realised wouldn’t work.  Tried again and simplified the shape.

My first masked print is soft and speckled, not unattractively. The thin line of the umbrella hasn’t come out though. But it’s an implied line.

first masked print- negative mask

Made a few more copies, positive and negative, ghost prints and third copy with ridged shape of the mask.  Used blue for positive shape, yellow for negative.

darker image

ghost print of positive mask

This was all strnagely satisfying, like a miraculous unfolding. You just didn’t know what was going to appear.

Then moved on to try positive and negative together. Chose purple for positive shape, and kept yellow for negative, and tried to add element of texture to negative by dragging a brush across diagonally to suggest rain.  

positive and negative

This went badly for two reasons- firstly some specks of dust crept in and left big white areas on the printed page, although the texture and the solidity of the colour was otherwise ok, I thought .  Secondly, there was a huge gap between the positive and the negative shapes. I also became acutely aware that all the advice on registering the print didn’t actually help with positioning the positive image accurately. It was pure guesswork positioning an image that was in the middle of the page.  As my yellow ink was the most transparent, I tried to position a sketch underneath the printing plate in the hope that it would shine through. The coursebook was very little help with all this.

ghost print of positive mask


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