Pictogram 2 is one of a set of similar prints, unsurprisingly including Pictogram 1, inspired by the work of Adolph Gottlieb. The term he used was ‘Pictograph’. In the end though the image probably bears more of a resemblance to Chinese brush painted calligraphy than Gottlieb’s work. It is possible therefore that a sub-conscious influence was also the work of Zao Wou-Ki, who I had already come across on-line.
The print was made by gel printing with acrylic paints on paper and is about 30 cm square. The Chinese like character has been printed over a background built up from the residues of previous prints. It is sold unmounted and unframed. Alternatively I can mount it on a cradled wooden panel with black painted edges, ready to hang on your wall.
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) a process most often used by crafters. 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. In pieces like this one the pictogram element can be the last stage, allowing it to stand forward, or it can be overprinted to let it ‘show through.’ This layering approach was already a part of my approach to print making, but the free approach possible with gel printing creates subtle variations in colour and a tangible physical texture.