Sunrise on Mercury gets its title from that intense yellow and red patch next to the curved blue shape. I don’t know what a sunrise on Mercury would look like, but I’m guessing it would be intense and this fictional landscape is an attempt to picture it. The planet turns up a lot in Science Fiction, often in stories set in the Terminator, the narrow band between the day side and the night side. It was thought that Mercury always turned the same face to the Sun. It is now known however that it rotates on its axis three times for every two rotations around the Sun. I’ve also made reference to it in one of my own prints, Mercury Beach.
The print was made by gel printing with acrylic paints on paper and is about 30 cm square. It is unmounted and unframed, although if you wish I can mount it on a cradled wooden panel, with black painted edges ready to hang on your wall.
During lockdown, I have made large series of similar colourful abstract monotype prints. They represent a new direction for my work, one I intend to continue to explore for a good while yet. I am very drawn to the way in which abstract, almost accidental layers of colour can be transformed into a coherent structured artwork. Many of them are fictional landscapes like this one, while others draw their inspiration from real places.
What is a gel print?
Monotype prints in general are made by drawing or painting on a smooth, non-absorbent surface. This surface, sometimes called the matrix, was historically a copper etching plate. In contemporary work other materials are often used, such as acrylic sheet. The image on the matrix is then transferred onto a sheet of paper by pressing the two together. This usually requires a print press. Monotypes can also be created by inking an entire surface and then, using brushes or rags, removing ink to create light areas in a field of opaque colour. This is then pressed together with a sheet of paper to make the print.
The specific process I used for this print was gel printing (or Gelli but this is a trademark). The matrix in this case is a soft synthetic gel. I apply the paint to the gel sheet with rollers or brushes. The area to which the paint is applied can be controlled by masks and stencils. The rolled out paints can also be drawn into or textured in various ways. This process is repeated until I’m happy with the image.
Some of my prints made this way have over 20 separate full or partial layers. The nature of the process allows for both intense bright colours and subtle variations in colour as well as tangible physical texture.+