Inspired by this acrylic painting (my own) which I’ve had sitting on my mantelpiece for years now- and also of course by the hollyhocks themselves, which, despite the heat and lack of water are still surviving, I decided to make a design on the subject. Mindful of the need to work with simple shapes and clear images, I simplified it down to a linear composition, with near repetition in the shapes and colours.
The first version used a combination of masking and painting. I laid the positive shapes and made the yellow background.
Then, still wary of masking the printing surface, as it’s so hard to get the placement right, I cleaned off the yellow ink, leaving the masked sections. I was still debating with myself how to go on with this, but decided after all to use a mask for the green parts. I did this by removing the masking still on the printing glass, and only inking the appropriate areas of the glass, using the masks remaining on the glass as a guide. The green came out a little vague in parts, probably because of all that was going on at once…
Then, stage 2, I removed the remaining masks, cleaned the ink off, leaving the outlines and painted into these outlines. I used folded paper to clean off lines in the flowers and leaves.
I thought the result was little “antiqued” in its effect, and wanted to try a more modern, streamlined effect.
For this version, I had realised that I could simplify the masking by doing two colours at once, inking different halves of the glass. I repeated the negative shape in yellow, this time only using 3 masks instead of four (the fourth one, a green shape, would be printed in blue over the yellow to give green). Then inked the plate in two halves , one half in blue, the other in green, so as to produce the two green positive shapes. I masked the printed page, not the glass. For the green being printed over the white paper, I stretched the two sides of the mask so that there would remain a white edge.
Then, did the same for the red and the pink, again stretching the masks so that a white edge remained, and inking the plate in two halves.
This resulted in a quite clean image, simple and stark. I was quite pleased to have cut down the number of steps involved.
This was a return to the painting style of version 1, but this time all parts were done in brushwork, including the yellow background, which was brushed on using the masks still in place on a glass used in version 2. I removed the masks afterwards, leaving the outlines. Then the 4 hollyhock stems were painted into the outlines one at a time, so that there would be no difference in the dryness of the paint. I fixed the paper with tape and flipped it over each time to make a new impression. The result is a much more painterly effect, even more “antique” than the first. As this time, Ididn’t clean off all the yellow on the glass on the flower shapes, there is also a slight gilded effect there where dry yellow has lifted off. My favourite though is the second. (I wonder sometimes the point of creating painterly effects- why not just paint on paper?)