Friday, 9 November 2012

Project 5 Experiments with printing and painting

Stage 2
Experimenting with techniques

I've been thinking I want to make an artist's stamp to mark my sketchbook and course work with my student number, so I used that for my first try at lino cutting. I researched artists' stamps on the internet, chose my 'font' and transferred my design with tracing paper. I was pleased that cutting it out seemed easier (and somehow less dangerous) than I remembered from school. Initially I tried using my water-soluble ink, thinking that printing is usually done with ink, but it didn't work at all as the ink didn't seem to stick to the lino at all. I suspect this is because it is water-based.

I tried gouache, which was better, but it seemed to either clog up the grooves or not cover the lino enough. The way it looked reminded me of wood cut prints I had seen in the past eg William Blake's illustrations.

I began to think that I had made a mistake choosing to print letters in this way, as the natural irregularity of the print meant that the letters and numbers were very inconsistently printed. Fabric paint worked best of the three. It became clear that the lino needed to be cleaned out between prints, and that the question of how much paint to use was very important to the final result. And that the depth of the cuts also makes a big difference to the final result. But that in some ways having letters and numbers meant that these issues were made obvious with my first try (ie a good thing).

Getting carried away by the success of this, I did another lino cut, this time of a section of conker case I had drawn in my sketchbook back before they had all gone hard and brown. I printed this onto calico in a block of squares without gaps. Then another with rotations of the block.

Conker linocut 1

Conker linocut 2
You can see the stripes of green where i put the paint on with a thin paintbrush.

Obviously the pattern isn't showing very well. Next time I will chose one which 'tiles' better.

Perhaps even try it out on the computer first to see what it will look like before cutting the lino.

This one, with a rotating block, gives a white diamond shape at the corner of 4 blocks.

Although this first attempt shows that I need to pick and chose the image better, and get some more skill at the printing itself, I'm starting to see the potential of block printing to do interesting things.

After this one, I tried out what would happen if I overprinted with just the hooks painted in a different colour...

Conker linocut 3

This looks more interesting. I like the sharp dark red hooks, and the contrast between that and the vague greenery background.

I was surprised at how well the hood details came out after my difficulties with seeing the detail of the block as a whole. Not sure why that is other than that there is less detail, and the colour is more intense. Something to work out by further experiment.

Conker linocut 4

This is what it looked like when I printed only the hooks and the curve of the outline.

I like the way that rotating the block makes a shape which could be the conker in its entirety. And that this shape could be repeated regularly to make an all over pattern.

Finally, I tried a more random and closer pattern of blocks in two different colours. 

It looks more textured, lumpy even, or like boiling or an explosion.

More printing experiments to follow.

Looking on the net for information and inspiration, I found this very appealing website:

The phrase (from that blog) 'creativity creates its own journey irrespective of whether you are twenty or seventy' appeals to me, starting my creative experiments as others of my age are anticipating the inevitable decline.

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