This print was made in a deliberate attempt to capture the look and feel of paintings by the British abstract artist Albert Irvin. I first came across his work in the 1980s, then rediscovered him via an exhibition at the Royal West of England Academy in Bristol in 2018/2019. I loved the colour and energy of his large paintings, but was also very taken by his screen prints, a process with many similarities to gel printing.
My print was made by gel printing with acrylic paints on paper and is about 30 cm square. It has numerous layers with a strong visual and physical texture. 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. This one is slightly different since in addition to the various stencils used to apply colour, some shapes are made by freehand brush strokes on the plate.
During lockdown, I have made an extensive series of similar abstract prints. They represent a new direction for my work, one I intend to continue to explore for a good while yet.
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. This gives subtle variations in colour and a tangible physical texture. The nature of the process allows for intense bright colours and this colourful imaginary landscape is no exception. If you look through the other items in the shop you will see many more, including many influenced as this is, by the work of British abstract artists like Howard Hodgkin and Patrick Heron.