Negative or Positive masks

Negative or Positive masks

The other side of the coin.. to use another cliché.

The negative masked shape was done in white ink on a coloured background, so it has the same tonal values as the alternative positive masked one. However, this time the contrast of material and non-material is reversed. The white image is assertive and pushes the colour of the paper into the background.

This has the effect of making it a more dynamic image than the positive masked one. Whereas the first is put upon and suffering, this one seems to have energy-it could even be interpreted as a dancer. So, I reinforced this interpretation by backdrawing a spiral going up the body.

negative mask with back drawing


Positive or negative masks

Positive or negative masks

The “or” in the title is the point here- and admittedly it only really came to me after looking up the assessment requirements and realising I had to submit “one positive masked print” and “one negative masked print”- whereas when I started those I just couldn’t resist trying to make double masks right away. So I had to think again about what shape or form was powerful enough to stand alone. I came back to the crucifixion I’d done earlier. It was the only one I felt had sufficient meaning already invested in it to require no additions.

So I made a positive mask and inked the background in red on a white background. The ink is quite busy and patchy. I prefer the blue and yellow misaligned one I did in the early experiments. But the background being busy and patchy can be seen as appropriate, as what the image stands for is a construct, the space that is created by the multitude of opinions, attitudes and feelings about it. The shape itself is, however, “empty”.

positive mask

This would be one of the challenges of modern art- to find the most elemental visual signs that talk to people, or engage with people, but without telling them what to think. In that sense, the image I’ve chosen is a “cliché” in the sense that it is immediately familiar and therefore could arouse already fixed responses.

Backdrawing series from a single plate

Multi uses of glass plate

Now have realised how long the ink can stay on the plate. I have had no time for the past week to do anything, and left a plate with a rolled layer of grey ink on it. It’s had sun shining on it daily. Finally used it today. Am also now aware of how much ink I wasted at the start.

Started with a sketch from life; Keith doing his crossword.

First sketch

Backdrawing 1: using an HB pencil and fine point pen, with some shading. This one is pale and delicate. Soft. Of course the ink is fairly dry now, so I did use pressure.

First backdrawing: pencil

Backdrawing 2: using the tines of a fork and a serrated knife. Much harder and angular.

second backdrawing: fork and knife

Backdrawing 3: coloured paper, using a wooden spoon- the back of the spoon and the handle. Went over outlines with fine point. Quite loose in its effect.

third backdrawing: wooden spoon

Backdrawing 4: damp paper and HB pencil, finger pressing on shaded areas. This one looks quite simple, a basic outline. I should have done more with the pencil.

fourth backdrawing: damp paper

Print 5: ghost print from glass after backdrawing 4, showing impression of that drawing and the previous ones.

ghost print

Print 6: using washing up liquid and a very little water to wet the glass, I tried to create brush marks textures, but these have become pressed into a splodge. Perhaps should have left them to dry a bit.

wet brush on glass

Print 7: second impression from glass, a bit drier, but not very clear.

gost print with drawing

Starting to run out of paper: not used to this kind of production rate!


blue mug and apples on orange plate: print

Apples: there so many of them on the trees that they beg to be the subject of a print..

Version 1: Painted monoprint: Still life: Blue mug and apples on orange plate

Can observe the effects of wet/dry paint and some of the merging that happens. The sketch highlighted the negative shapes of the white reflections.

image on glass


Version 2: Backdrawing: Apples in a crate.

glass plate

The first version was too wet and there is little definition.


apples in crate 1


The second, after a lot f the paint has been picked up is a bit better.

apples in crate 2

 Finally I drew freely, looking out of the window at the apple trees trained against the fence.

apple tree

Finally a ghost print of the remains on the glass.

remains of apples on glass

Landscape again

painted landscape

Medium: Printing inks

Subject: landscape- method- removal/ wiping

Right, this works better. Made a first print and then painted over the plate with a brush and added more colours.

Now, I think I need to do something a bit more planned


The plan was to try another Spanish landscape, with undulating ploughed fields, rows of olive trees, fields of sunflowers, different textures, a bit knitted looking.

Started with a sketch on A4- yes, a quick one taken from some of my other quick sketches.



 Placed it under my glass printing plate and painted lines in blue, using a brush. Suggested olive trees with dots and showed rows in different directions. Printed it, having fixed my printing paper with masking tape to the left of the plate, so it could flip over and stay in place.Took a ghost print, and traced the image of the lines through to the other side.Placed this tracing under the glass plate and cleaned it.

Mixed some salmon pink and painted on solid shapes, which I then removed paint from, using a tissue, and some more lines to complement the existing ones.Cleaned the plate and rolled on some transparent yellow on the bottom half of the plate: wiped this around the shape of the foreground field. At the same time, mixed a pale orange and painted it onto the fields of olive trees in the middle distance. Used pale blue to fill in the sky area and wiped with a tissue. Printed.

I was going to leave it at that, and took the paper out of the masking tape, then decided to add another stage, some more solid green. For this, I used the sketch that was still under the glass plate and made a mask from it, leaving three areas of green and adding cypress trees in the foreground. I put the paper back, but somehow managed to get it in the wrong place so the green came out wrongly registered. I do tend to rush and do things sloppily, which shows up here terribly…

landscape with olives

Anyway, it was an experiment, and I quite like the effects of the interplay between solid shapes and texture. I need to control the registering better, and make use of the possibilities of wet/dry ink.

Apples and leaves

New subject- apples. This one I continued with red and green, and added texture by pressing leaves into the red background ink before printing. With the positive mask, I also laid down a leaf from the apple tree. Then when printing the positive shape, I coated the leaf in green ink and laid it on the printing plate so that the texture of the leaf was transferred. Here again, the alignment was well out. I was starting to get frustrated, feeling like the course materials were really not being very helpful. I also didn’t think the big green shape worked well anyway- needs another mask over it, to create more highlights.

Apples and leaves