|Open College of the Arts|
|Student name||Christine Bruce||Student number||505070|
|Course/Module||Printmaking 1||Assignment number||3|
Every part of this assignment shows confident development of the relief process and each print is a fascinating portrayal of engaging subject matter and evocative surface details and colour combinations. You have thoroughly reflected on every stage of your printing process and produced a very successful body of work, backed up with preliminary sketches, photos and paintings. You have related your ideas to that of other artists in a succinct and
Feedback on assignment
Your yellow bag makes for a good subject for your first reductive lino prints, and you have produced some excellent drawn studies of in preparation for the lino print. You have split it up into each stage of cutting, so that each layer overlaps and makes up the whole and you have maximized the effects of the lino cutting tools to produce interesting textural and patterned areas. With it’s folds and overlaps of material, the bag stands out strongly on the background of diagonal striped lines. The Mao poster and Tunnocks wrapper has helped inform your decisions here and it looks like the bag itself is almost part of this background. Could it have more impact if the bag was more definately sitting on top of this background, by giving it a dark outline in black perhaps?
You have mixed your colours well, making informed decisions about contrast and space and allowing them to compliment each other. The energetic sunburst effect is excellent and adds a sense of fun. Your use of your jig to register has worked very well; the comic book effect of graphics reminiscent of the 1960’s and 1970’s is very pop art like. The cross-hatching of the green layer is excellent; it adds texture and detail to small areas, but producing the ‘right’ green proves a challenge. The mint green would have lifted the previous warm colours, but the dark forest green dulls then down a little. You discover how strong and overpowering the blue ink was that you used. There are a variety of shades of blue, all offering different shades when intermixed. Ultramarine is very different to Pthalo blue, which is different to Cobalt blue. You can experiment with them all of course, and depending on which shade of yellow use will then have an effect on the green produced. It’s the same when mixing a purple too…there are numerous shades of red! It’s difficult to know whether some green stripes would have benefited the background; once you’ve cut away there’s no going back!, but you can always try variations out on a couple of versions, before cutting more. Having no green in the background though now allows the bag to become an object it’s own right and not just a product of the background burst. The darkest shadows now depicted in the purple layer take it one step further; how essential it is in adding more definition is limited. Perhaps a black border or outline could have strengthened everything and bought it together, but this need to be considered earlier! I do think a deep red instead of purple would be more harmonious and yes, often less is more! Allowing for more prints earlier on gives you the scope to experiment further in this way.
The Alps print is such a contrast in subject matter and far more mature in it’s overall outcomes; it begins to tell a story through the strength of it’s symmetry and balanced composition. The colours, composition shadow and light is excellent, and it’s all in the preparatory work that shows your in-depth research of your subject. You have a definite aim for the overall finished print, relating well to other art of the 20th century. The comparisons of how artists and poets have been inspired by this unique landscape gives you the essence of the place and how you might place a figure within it, that becomes part of it’s appeal and mystery. There’s nothing wrong with working from photos…it’s how you interpret them and use them to make your own impression of that time and place that’s the interesting and create part. You have taken it into Photoshop and use a more fluid approach, but giving you the opportunity to use black to fill-in and outline specific areas. Your numerous colour studies in your sketchbook help you discern exactly how each area will sit next op the other and most importantly give the impression of perspective and depth of field. There are such strong contrasts here, that yes, just two or three colours could suffice, but at the same time there’s plenty of potential to try out more….a cool palette interspersed with warm colours to warm up the blues. Black itself can be mixed by bringing together a number of tertiary colours; you don’t have to use the black straight form the tube (Sir Terry Frost wrote an essay on this for his students and a painting devoted to this principle) There are red-blacks, blue-blacks and so on. At every stage of cutting and layering it’s wonderful to see this image start to come alive…it’s a real testament to your developing understanding and awareness of the lino printing process. The green/grey and blue/green layer could relate to a morning or evening scene, just through changing the shade of the sky and shadows elsewhere. I prefer the version with the brighter blue sky due to the sense of crisp light and atmosphere that’s present.
The rubber alternative to lino that you’re using has posed different challenges for this exercise, with regards to cutting and scoring the material; it almost self-seals. However, you have pushed it’s boundaries and made it work for you by way f the tools you’ve used. It’s evident that this is not just an experimental ‘play’ piece, but a working record of tools and materials that becomes something tangible, with meaning and visual appeal on an abstract level. You overcame your reluctance to embrace this project and surprised yourself with the results, using your keen eye for colour combinations and surface detail. Perseverance and patience is essential in many printmaking process, and so often it’s in the process that you discover exciting things happening; it’s not always about the end result. Economically using your little off-cuts you have produce to fascinating test block prints which explore a wide range of tools and materials that have scratched the surface in varying ways. Lino is often that much harder to impress unless warm and soft enough. The tonal qualities that become apparent show an atmospheric quality that’s just not possible with traditional cutting tools. Lino lends itself to the application of paint stripper or caustic soda with a brush. It bites into the surface and leaves a recess with uneven edges; I wonder whether the rubber lino could be ‘attacked’ like this? Arranging the offcuts to be printed in close proximity to each other proves very interesting and provokes a whole new visual and aesthetic appeal. You soon see the relationship and narrative between each strip, depending on subtle changes in the direction of their placement and how close they might be to the next strip…what happens when there’s a little space, compared to them each being nearly on top of each other? The natural world is certainly the first connection that the marks may relate to, with the action and movement as well as the stillness and quite coming together and complimenting each other. It’s good that you are thinking about how the viewer is going to perceive things and how you can build on that dialogue by careful observation and consideration. Exploring the landscape potential and choosing other papers to print on is worthwhile.
There’s a primitive nature to some of these marks and you soon link in with work about ancient symbolic visuals like Rune stones. When you make a series of prints based on a theme they can become like pages in a book, one leading on to other and inspiring a new set of prints. The dark blues and blacks are an important part of the success here, as they allow the intricate lines and marks to show most prominently without the need to concern yourself with colour…a great contrast to your previous work. The sea or sky come to mind first, but also the landscape of close-up worlds viewed under a microscope, or sections of vast aerial landscape views. It’s certainly important to include some of these developments for submission…well done for having the creative insight to have investigated these further!
The scale, subject and varying compositions in your experimental relief prints show your competent ability to keep on experimenting and take leads from each print to help inform the next. You continue to assess strengths and weaknesses and recognise your preferred processes, materials and tools that you are drawn to. Inherent here again is inspiration taken from other artists, like Gaughin, but there isn’t the same coherent preparatory work in your sketchbook. However, it doesn’t seem to detract from your ability to translate your ideas from your imagination to plate and print. I love the varied tones and marks you have made in your first Gaughin inspired print. With some of the mark-making tools you have felt limited to linear lines, scrapes and scores. But when used in combination with cutting tools and abrasive papers, the possibilities become far more visible. Again narrative is really important, a story is told, and you explore details like printing to the edge of the lino , exploiting visible irregular roller marks…excellent. It makes a significant difference to the overall impact, suggesting a softer, ethereal mood, in contrast to some of the sharp edged imagery. The abrasion on the lino has worked really well – you could explore dabbing the ink on too and wiping areas away with various tools like rags and cotton buds.
The Rune stone inspired prints bring together text with primitive and symbolic imagery, which is very powerful, especially when combined with the Christ figure. Strips are used again to great effect, but you could allow for a greater margin between the end of the blocks the edge of the paper. The transfer of ink differs throughout and this makes the overall focus all the more primitive and mysterious. Did you print these blocks directly down onto the paper? You might find a stronger transfer of ink is more achievable if paper is always on top of the blocks and burnished by hand or a back of a spoon. Tracing paper makes for a good stencil and adds another layer of ambiguity. You try to inscribe the runes using a nail to no avail. You could experiment with a soldering iron or a small electric dremmal hand tool, or a glass cutter…all of these by the way work very well for the Intaglio print process and can be used on the plastic sheets that you might use to make monoprints with.
Polystyrene packaging can be very effective to inscribe with a pencil or ball-point pen, or even impressed with implements or objects. It certainly is quicker than lino and similar in it’s outcomes when printed. It is fragile too, but the it works here; the rune symbols stand out a great deal more and the curved edges make the print look like a slab of stone, brick or rock…rather like a large stamp. It’s good to see using other surfaces to work on – mountboard can be scored into as well, but may benefit from a thin layer of shellac varnish to seal it. If you want to inscribe into glue, it’s best to do it just before it dries and not before when it’s still thin and runny and likely to run back into itself; you give the glue more body with some filler. When you start to inscribe like this the scratched surface is sometimes most visible when inked up Intaglio and with the use of a press. The scratching needs to be deep enough, but the burnishing of the paper needs to be firm and evenly pressured. The paper also needs to be very absorbent; you could spray it with a little water, blot it and try that too.
The Sutton Hoo helmet is very different; you have now used wood, but it would be good to know what sort! MDF is fairly soft wood, plywood is made up of layers and has a grain, and it’s always difficult to cut against this. You can also distress the wood with hammers, nails and screwdrivers, but in order to cut it with sharp contours and lines a wood especially suited to this is best to use. Japanese plywood or boxwood are could be used, and many of the very best woods are quite very expensive. There are some really interesting surface textures here though that could be used as backgrounds to be overprinted using a different printing process, like monnoprinting. Backdrawing could be ideal as you could writ, scratch and score the back of the paper, but needing write backwards to ensure the runes are printed the write way around!
The most striking and strongest print in this series is the crucifixion on red; dramatic and powerful, much due to the limited palette of contrasting colours and perceived larger scale.
The Ich War print came out of your in-depth investigation into the relationship between your own personal voice and the very printing processes and methods available to you. Using a similar limited palette your graphic poster-like print is soft and subtle but in its own way shouts out, which with an earlier idea you tried to avoid! The large white margin around the print allows it to sit solidly on the paper and using a variety of mark making tools in juxtaposition with clearly traditional cut areas adds texture, tone and depth.
A developing strength you have as you collect your sources of inspiration and ideas, is the ability to translate new ideas into print. Your photos, sketches and paintings and awareness of how colours need to sit balanced and harmonize is good. You articulate your ideas with an excellent grasp of how to work toward communicating your visual ideas. Your consistent look out for other artists work and ideas helps to also instigate new possibilities too.
Learning Logs/Critical essays
Your learning log is presented well alongside your work on your blog. You make good reference to a number of other artists, showing an in-depth awareness of how to assess your strengths and weaknesses in your work and the processes and materials you use.
Sir Terry Frost RA
Brian Rice (paintings and woodcuts, using archeological shapes and patterns)
Brenda Hartill (Collagraphs)
Jazz Green (collagraph)
Chris Edgar (Collagraph)
Peter Ford (Collagraph)
Jay Seabrook (Collagraph)
Christine Rodriques (Collagraph)
Pointers for the next assignment
It’s well worth using good quality printing paper (BFK Rives, Somerset or any other cotton rag paper that will withhold being sprayed with water and dampened prior to printing. Use dabbers, toothbrushes and cotton buds to apply the ink as well as rollers.
|Date||20th March, 2012|
|Next assignment due||May/June|