This colourful print, called Painted Desert 2, is one of two drawing inspiration from the Arizona landscape, especially the badlands area of that name at the east end of the Grand Canyon. On my one trip to the Grand Canyon National Park I had hoped also to get to this area, but never made it. This image therefore is as much inspired by the memory of that trip and of what might have been, as it is by the photographs and articles I have read since.
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 an extensive series of similar bright and colourful abstract prints. They represent a new direction for my work, one I intend to continue to explore for a good while yet. It is quite possible that others will also draw on memories from that trip of the Arizona landscape and similar locations.
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 abstract monotype print is no exception.