Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Project 5 Stage 4 - A larger sample

Looking at what I have done already:

I put out all the things I had printed during this section of the course, and thought about what I wanted to make the larger sample with.

I like the 'daisy' pattern, with it's background/ flower centres made with bubble wrap. It was freer than some of the others, and could be joyful with the right combinations of colours and fabric. I am also drawn to the slightly twisted formality of the pale green spikes in strict squares, so could do something to enhance that concept in some way. I really enjoyed printing with the relief stamps in various combinations, and feel rather proud of how good the linocut conker cases look when printed, so I could explore those more. I also enjoyed using small stencils to make shapes of uncoloured background. The foam stamps, circular relief stamps, and eyes didn't work so well, possibly because they weren't so interesting or versatile in design terms.

A series of ideas for the larger sample:

A very bad photo of my sketchbook page of ideas for the non-repeating sample

My ideas included a pretty 'wallpaper' of daisies with a large iris looking through a 'tear'; Reptile skin-like overlapping block printed shapes, with an eye coming through; a conker case on a background of spikes, with a pupil peeking out from inside; a formal repeated pattern of irises alternating with a curved diamond shape for the negative space...etc. I was liking my pupil stencils when I drew these!

I abandoned them all when I did a small version of the pupil on a silver background reflecting the texture of the fabric it was on. The pupil turned out quite deep adn glowing, as I had hoped, but it didn't really look right without the rest of the eye, and I decided to go with a more abstract image.

An only slightly better photo of some ideas for the repeating pattern.
The top left is the static repeat of the conker case, The middle one is a series of daisies using bubble wrap for the centres, and relief print for the petals, on a swirly background of bright Markal paint sticks. The next one is the relief 'leaf' shape, using stencils to highlight some of them in an abstract pattern, but generally making the most of the interesting wormcast look of them when they are close together in strings. The last was a general idea of using the same relief stamps but in two directions and metallic paints.
The magazine cutting was to show the pale yellow, blue and rust colours I wanted for the background of the conker case idea. Attached is the fabric I tried out different colours of the linocut on.

Repeating Sample:
I chose to go with the larger version of my conker case print for the larger repeating sample.

I wanted it to look autumnal, and to make you wonder what was inside. I thought that making an interesting texture in the background while leaving the centres of the prints untouched would do this best.

The fabric needed to be quite fine to allow the delicate lines of the linocut to come across clearly.

And I needed to pay attention to making the stencils out of robust material and to getting them the right way round.

Once I had chosen the dark green fine cotton for the fabric, I found a magazine advertisement with lovely rust colours on it to copy for the background texture and the outer background of the case.

First I taped it down to my printing pad.
Then I cut out 12 circles of sticky backed plastic so that the background texture
would not get onto the 'negative' space in the centre of the conkers.
Then I mixed up a lot of the pale yellow in the rust, to roller onto the background.

Once I had finished the three colours on the background, I removed the circles
of sticky-backed plastic and waited for it to dry.
I made a stencil out of thin but strong card, and drew a line to ensure that the inner
and outer parts of the stencil would correspond in the same way each time.

I used a stiff square-ended brush to stipple the paint onto the area revealed by the stencil.
I repeated this with a different colour for the inner circle of the case.

The final layer was the addition of the linocut print in a paler colour.
I had initially thought I would do it in dark brown, but did
a test on a scrap piece of the same fabric and found that it did not
show up well, so decided on pale green in the end.
What I learned from doing this sample:
1. Doing a couple of pages of ideas in my sketchbook meant that I quickly worked out what would work, and also what I liked enough to think in more detail about even at that stage. Obviously there are some things that work in pencil and paper that may not work so well in the end, so some try outs are needed before moving on to the big sample.
2. Doing some colour tries on the fabric I'm going to use is important to make sure the combinations really act the way I expect them to. As it was I discovered that the colours look much clearer and brighter on the back of the sample, presumably because they were not subdued by the relative lack of contrast with the background treatment.
3. I like the way the stripes of different colours look on the masking tape. A bit like the colours on the selvage of industrially printed fabric. It makes me want to use that in a piece of fabric that i have painted - a bit like tartan with the contributing colours coming out in various different stripes.
4. Because of the detailed linocut print going on top, I didn't need to be so careful about the stencilling. I could probably have done it all much more quickly with a block print (if only I knew where to find the right stuff to make it out of). I will ask my tutor about this today.
5.  I love these colours. I have made a colour bag with them. The rust, dark blue, forest green and mauve go remarkably well together.
6. In this sample the horizontal stripes made by the roller on the background contrasts with the circular shapes. The insubstantial pattern of the background contrasts with the delicate tracery of the linocut pattern, and I think this produces an interesting tension. The colour of the linocut contrasts with the darker richer colour of the rest of it. Those richer colours harmonise with each other. I don't think that the contrast between inside and outside the conker cases is as obvious as I had hoped.

A Single Unit Piece
For this sample I chose to go with the relief 'leaf' print idea, but to use colour as well as the stencils and proximity effects for areas of interest and movement.  I realised that it was going to be a dance of leaves, so I went with the seasonal autumn colours again, this time less subdued and more joyful. There is a brittleness to leaves in the autumn, and I wanted to reflect that in the fabric, so I chose a rather stiff but translucent organdie in pale yellow.

Once it was fixed to the printing pad I drew a dancing pattern, influenced by a Japanese painting of a dancing woman with a fan. Then I cut stencils of masking tape in the shape of combs/ half leaves and placed them at the key edges of the shape I had drawn.

Then I dampened the fabric and sponged it with paint in pale shades of yellow and orange.

Once that had dried I began relief printing with various leaf colours. I made the prints close together and therefore highly textured at the edges, and brighter and further apart in the inner part.

Compared to the planning I had done for the repeat sample, I was making most of the decisions about placement and colour as I went along.

Dancing leaves sample.

What I learned from doing this sample:
1. I found that the acrylic paint stuck rather thickly to this fabric, so it is palpable, took a long time to dry, and stuck to the iron a little.
2. This sample shows me that I need to think more about colour when I am planning to make things. I still don't have a lot of confidence in using colour, and this is generally the last thing I think about when I'm doing a drawing in my sketchbook. The first sample worked better because I had found something to copy the colours from. Which makes the colour bags a very good idea! And next time I need to remember to do the 3 part study bit of the designing consciously so that I don't miss colour out.
3. In general, I didn't know if I'd have time to do any more than the first larger sample, so I didn't plan this one so thoroughly. And this is what the result is...that it just isn't so effective. I believe that this is at least in part because while there is contrast there is no harmony bringing it all together.
4. Although the yellow fabric is lovely to touch, and makes me think of delicate fragile things, it doesn't go with the heavy printing and wide range of intenisites and tones of colours. It would have been better to try out several different kinds of fabric before starting.
5. I still think this is a good selection of source material for a design. But I think I have yet to use it in a way which makes the most of what i think of as the wormcast texture. Perhaps I should have used a heavier weave and strong colours.
6. In addition, perhaps with this fine fabric a smaller pattern would have been more appropriate.

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