Prints on a Theme: Meditation, with Leaf

Gold Leaf

Yes, did I mention that I finally got gold leaf to stick?

One of my finds in Bucharest was a little alley way of art shops. There I found different colours of leaf, and, finally, glue to stick it on with. So I went back to complete the “Meditation” print.

I have now been able to decorate it with silver, gold, copper and bronze coloured leaf. Of them all, I think the bronze is the most effective, as it relates to the bronze bowl Buddhist monks carry, and creates the most realistic colour for falling leaves.

So here it is, at last. Here, the leaf has a much different message to the one it conveys in the Belle du Jour print, where it is tawdry, peeling, and ironic. Here it is delicate and sincere, on soft mulberry paper. Worth the wait!

Here is a silver one, with the hallowed gluestuff.

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Prints on a Theme: Combination Lino- and Mono-prints- Backdrawing: Belle du Jour

Prints on a Theme: Combination Lino- and Mono-prints- Backdrawing.

Kitty Cougar becomes Belle du Jour

Belle du Jour is the development of one of the earlier Kitty Cougar Prints.

I decided when I came back from Bucharest and reviewed the pictures, to combine the linoprints with monoprinted (backdrawn ) outlines to add more definition to them. I had had to concede that I didn’t have the equipment or the skills to produce the kind of shiny prints that I had wanted, and so the relief outlines just weren’t there, and something else was needed. I had been sketching with graphite sticks during my holiday, and liked the lines and shadows they made. So I chose a steely blue grey mixture for the lines, and used drawing tools with different degrees of sharpness.

This is one of my favourites. It’s on tissue paper and the colours are rich and shiny; the addition of the backdrawing creates an etched effect.

This one is only backdrawn once, pressing lightly for a more delicate outline and cleaner look.

Here, the texture of the original print has created quite different effects and it seems to have movement.   The backdrawing looks like charcoal.

Here, on what had been a very bland print on cartridge paper, the backdrawing and finger-pressing has given a very grainy, smudged image with a much more three-dimensional effect.

I like a lot of these. But I finally went with the newspaper printed one to develop.

I first used an H-pencil to make outlines, sketchy lines, backdrawing on the dark grey ink. Later, having been pleased with the shadows made by being heavier handed with the ink on images, I made shadows using by fingers, this time on a lighter blue mixture. I like how these smudgy effects create some unity with the newsprint underneath, while the lines stand out over the type.

To summarise,  Belle du Jour is glossy, printed on a double page of The London Review of Books which is then inked over in white. Not the Daily Mirror. Too trashy! I’ll be honest, I originally printed it on newspaper because I was short of anything else big enough, but it was the one I liked best, and which set me thinking about a richer, more layered set of references to everyday objects and street art. It’s not exactly aligned with the newspaper type, which was another accident, but one which fits. The ink is thick and shiny, and the paper is shiny, and it has, appropriately, a centrefold. It’s a seductive pose, and the colours are garish, with gold leaf suggesting an icon. She is faceless, only her body is thrust forward. The picture is loud and larger than the others I’ve done, and has monoprinted outlines giving the otherwise flat shapes some depth. She’s on offer. I want to suggest an upper-class tart, hence the title, Belle du Jour, from the book by an academic who leads a double life as a call-girl. The rattiness of the paper, its folds, the peeling gold leaf also suggests it’s been used: I wanted to get an effect like a tattered street poster, but in a good neighbourhood. The monoprinted script on the side is handwritten in style, like graffiti or a marker pen, and might have given a phone number … or a review.

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.