Kimono came about from experiments with a limited palette and more defined shapes, rather than the multiple layering which is my normal approach. I wasn’t aiming for the so-called ‘mid-century’ look, although that is how it appears to be seen. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure that what I understand by the term is the standard definition. To me, it recalls the Festival of Britain in 1951 and designers like Robin and Lucienne Day. The Wikipedia definition seems however to be rather different and heavily US biased. Whatever the style is called I like this particular print, which is one of several with the same ‘mid-century’ feel.
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 draw their inspiration from real places, others while still abstract, have a link back to the world of experience such as the being under the sea and some are pure abstract without external references, such as this ‘mid-century’ image and others like it.
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.+