Series of Prints on a theme 3: Enchantment
So, I have a design in front of me. It’s another figure in a landscape, one that I have already drawn in pastel, and painted in acrylic, and now I have rendered it in black and white (and grey), and in the process, have made some conscious choices about shapes and contrast, envisaging this as a one- or two colour print. Actually, I’m already thinking about it in black and grey, which is odd, as the acrylic is a riot of colour. Well, maybe not so odd: the print does not give such opportunities for communicating through colour that the acrylics do.
I’m now thinking how to interpret this image through cut lines, as I have already transferred the sketch to a piece of A4 lino. I have in front of me a catalogue of prints by MC Escher. As I was saying before, these are meticulous and admirable, and are wonderful examples of pattern making. They do feel stiff though- I’m talking here about early works, such as “The Sixth Day of the Creation” (1926), which shows Adam and Eve rendered in outlines filled with horizontal lines, or “Portrait of G Escher-Umiker (Jetta)” 1925 which uses vertical lines with mathematical precision to render degrees of light and dark.
It is the sort of thing that can be done by computer now, but the carving skill is awesome. I was tempted at first to let this kind of style guide me, but am worried that it will result in something very stiff and formalised.
A less stiff rendition, and one that would be quite fitting for the magical quality that I’d like to have in this print is this one by John Buckland Wright “Tiptoe Night” 1944. It’s very fine and detailed, and is essentially flat, but has much more fluidity than a similar cutting style used in Escher’s prints. It’s illustrative, I think, and I also find that appropriate for the narrative that I’m after. I’d like to have a children’s book or boys’ own adventure sort of feel to this picture.
This more contemporary work by Anne Desmet RA, Derelict Warehouse, Olympic Site 2010, has a similar geometric precision, using the framework of the building to throw shadows and reflections, and maximising the contrastive potential of solid black and white shapes, and two types of marks- fines lines and dots. Limiting the types of marks used is a good way of unifying the image and avoiding overload of information.
This image by Anita Klein uses two blocks and very effective interplay between the lines on the outline drawing and those cast by the shadow. It’s a case where slightly off registration actually works too. Here, the two colours absolutely communicate different messages, and it’s making me question my idea of using two colours- why? What is added by the second one?
Tobias Till, P, Picadilly, on the other hand is s riot of colour. A bit mindbending figuring out the process: I can see there’s some rainbow rolling of yellow and white? I wonder how many of the colours could be combined on the same block by selective rolling.
Can I after all try something in several colours? I now have had another couriered delivery of lino: A3. Will have to cut them in two, as I simply don’t have paper big enough to print A3 on. But I have enough block material. I’m encouraged by what I see as the success of the Hunter print but need to think a bit more if it’s an appropriate style for the subject matter.