Assignment 5: 4 Prints on a theme

Four prints on a theme

Right, back after a break, refreshed and restocked. I have had new supplies of paper, from Bergerac and Bucharest,  as well as having found a nice selection of gold leaf in different colours (it’s still called “gold leaf” although it’s in silver, copper and bronze) and special paste for glueing it. This came from a wonderful little alley in Bucharest- cobblestoned, arched at both ends with cafes down the middle, and entirely given over to art shops. No printing ink, but it does seem to be very specialist, so that’s fair enough. (Lots of tempura paints though, which must be the in thing in Romania…)

And I’ve narrowed down my choice of prints for the final assignment on a theme. My choice was firmed up after visiting the Storck Museum in Bucharest and seeing the paintings of Cecilia Storck. She painted at the end of the 19th century and into the 20th, and the Storck museum is the family home, with rooms entirely covered in her artwork- walls and ceilings.

She spent time in Paris at the end of the 19th century, and the influence of Gauguin can be seen in her paintings of figures in fantastic landscapes, as well as a bit of a decorative motif that is reminiscent of pre-Raphaelites. But her subject matter is spiritual and emotional. Her landscapes are imagined, as she did not, like Gauguin, travel to the south seas, but she created tableaux  that take elements of traditional religious art but which suggest a modern mythology based on the cycle of birth, life and death, and celebrate the fundamental emotions of joy, sorrow, love, pity.

Her figures, like Gauguin’s, are realistic but simplified. They exist in colourful idealised landscapes, and perform simple but dramatic gestures, like characters in a mime.

I want to make my selection of final prints based on simple, elemental poses and gestures. These will all have originated from sketches done from life, and will be placed in different imaginary contexts depending on the emotion or attitude being portrayed.  I will have tried out several versions in order to choose the techniques that work best. A lot of this will be trial and error. Yes, sketching is important, but there is only so much that can be predicted in a sketch. The difference the texture of  paper makes, for example, is not something that can be sketched, and I have found that the more rigorously I plan through sketching, the less successful the print appears to be. At this stage, still a relative beginner at printmaking, I feel it’s better to try things out and respond to results.

I’m going to reorganise the work done so far, and will bring in a print done as part of the earlier chine colle experiments to be part of the final series, as I think it fits too well to leave it out. Meanwhile, I have done a lot of other experiments with chine colle, so can hardly be accused of skiving.  Being mindful of the assignment brief, I’m confident that the final series will show a mix of techniques and materials, while also having clear relationships to each other.

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