Series of prints on a theme: 1 Meditation

Series of Prints on a Theme: Meditation

This is to be the first in my series of prints, which I intend to be a series of figures in landscapes. I plan to use sketches and paintings from lifedrawings I have done, and to interpret these for their narrative or emotive qualities. This is similar to the work I did on the woodcut crouching woman earlier, the piece that I’m happiest with. I’m not setting out with a list of titles or concepts, such as the suggested Air, Water etc., but would rather work with what the images themselves evoke.

This one was a 30 second pose. I have lots of these, but I thought this had potential, as well as other kneeling poses. Some suggested readiness to fight, as if in reversion to some kind of animal state, while this one looked either resigned or ready to spring into action. I realised that it was anatomically all wrong, arms too long, legs disjointed, and I “corrected” it. But this just resulted in something that was quite uninteresting, so I went back to the distended “wrong” figure of the 30 second sketch, deciding now to play up its stillness and make it into something meditative. I started by sketching this as an abstract shape on the lino, without a clear idea of how I was going to develop it.  With the addition of a tree and a bowl, I was referencing a connection to Buddhism, and at this stage, thought I could maybe also incorporate the gold foil that I had finally been able to get hold of. This could perhaps communicate the idea of meditation bringing down riches to fill the bowl.

I sketched more, directly onto the lino, playing around with contours and solid shapes. The cutting style, I decided eventually, would be fine and detailed and would play up the similarity between the figure rooted in contemplation and the tree. Straight lines of varying thicknesses- inspired by Escher- would suggest depth. It would also not aspire to realism, but more to a symbolic representation.

The lino I had was A5. The softcut was A4.  The assignment brief asks for A3 with margins. But I really, really prefer to work with the lino. So sorry, OCA. I’m in rural France and I have to work with what I have. This is not a commission, printmaking materials are somewhat specialised, and I had had to get these through a circuitous route as well as be mindful of airline baggage limits, so I don’t see why it has to be so specific.

Anyway, the main thing about the cutting was to resist the temptation to describe through drawing. I slipped up in a couple of spots on the tree, and put in outlines. I think it’s ok. Not too much is fine. The figure was hard. Deciding on the direction of the cuts very difficult and in places the exact contours of the body are hard to follow. That could be improved, if the information was necessary.

Then to print, with the gold leaf. Straightforward, it would seem, in the course materials. Not at all.

This has been a saga which has shown what a wonderful, well-meaning, resourceful and supportive network fellow OCA students are. But they’re not experts, and essentially didn’t know either.

This was eventually done by glueing the paper, then applying a largeish piece of gold foil, then brushing off the bits that weren’t stuck. It’s not anything like the procedure shown in the OCA printing coursebook. Then, because there was no ink over the gold, and the bowl looked like a rugby ball, I reprinted over the black with a dark blue.

This had the effect of peeling off some of the gold. As well as that, the gold leaf doesn’t seem to “take” up the ink very well.

So this is still a work in progress, and I’m not going to repeat here all the details of failures that I have already shared with other students who have tried their best to help. The OCA forum, in my opinion, needs to be populated with the full range of tutor-experts from the different disciplines to provide proper back up to the parts of course materials which are inadequate.

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