I haven’t been able to get into my studio for a week or so. The time hasn’t been entirely wasted. I have a couple of monotype prints in an open show at Pound Arts in Corsham. A couple of submissions for other shows were unfortunately not successful. That’s not unusual. The selection process for shows always seems a bit of a lottery.
I’ve also been making some digital work. These won’t stay entirely digital, but will probably end up as RISO prints. Silkscreen or cyanotype are also a possibility. They will be the subject of a separate post, since the techniques I used may be of interest.
Check this link for other posts on digital printmaking.
Mixtape No. 2 is the second of these online shows I have been in. As before, it has an eclectic mix of artists and styles. Please head over there and look at the work on offer. There are links to follow if you want to look at an artist in more depth.
One of the things taking part in these two shows (Mixtape No.1 is still up, so if you haven’t seen it, do check it out) has done is made me look afresh at my own work and wonder if perhaps it’s just a wee bit too tidy. I don’t know for sure yet, but it’s made me think, and that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?
This collection of latest new prints is all small size monotypes. Each one is 15 cm square (6″).
As I’ve said many times, there is something about working at small sizes I enjoy. Obviously they are quicker to make. Even so, many layers go into creating the rich textures. These are not in the shop yet. When I do list them, they will be in mounts sized to fit a 10″ x 10″ frame (about 25 cm) at a price of £30 plus postage. If you are interested in something here, email me quoting OCT£5OFF to buy one for £25.
The offer is only valid on the nine images in this post and expires at midnight (my time) 11th November 2022. Subject to availability.
I’m currently working on some larger prints – 30 cm x 30 cm (12″). I’ve picked up the ‘peak’ motif from these recent pieces, aiming for a similar diffused effect.
For other similar prints, go to the ‘Art under £75‘ section of the shop.
To see some of the inspiration for the ‘Hubble’ images, go here:
Are these finished, do you think? I’m not sure. I know from experience with these small works that it is very easy it is to go one step too far and lose it. Because they are so small, there isn’t much room to manoeuvre if marks end up in the wrong place. Of course, that also means there isn’t much lost if a print fails.
Even so, I don’t immediately throw away prints that look like failures. Instead, I add them to a ‘slush pile’ which I review from time to time. This includes anything from monotype prints like these to collagraphs, drypoints or digital prints. It is surprising how impressions can change once the process of making has been forgotten. After a while, you see the image as if for the first time. Sometimes reviewing two disparate images can give that spark you need to work out what to do next.
I’m currently in an online art exhibition called Mixtape No. 1 with several of my abstract monotypes.
Have a look, there are an incredibly eclectic mix of images in this virtual show. If you look at them, try to do it on a decent size screen. Your phone won’t do them justice. There are links to all the artist websites or IG pages after the online slide show. I’m working my way through them slowly. The point of this is of course to sell art, so here’s my shameless promotional link! Click on an image to be taken to the shop. (Not all of them are online yet.)
Don’t just look at my work. This virtual art show is about generating exposure, building recognition. So, make sure you look at the other work and the artist’s web pages. The range of work included in the show is truly remarkable. There are almost 200 pieces by about 40 artists. Make sure you check out the work of Sean Worrall and Emma Harvey, who have put the whole thing together – and 178 others since 2017!
During the pandemic, many mainstream galleries mounted virtual exhibitions, but this is the only one of which I’m aware that gives space to unrepresented artists, the artists who make work simply because they can.
Mobility problems have kept me out of my home studio for months. I haven’t entirely wasted my time, as previous posts about my writing testify. Even so, I really wanted to be doing more than staring at a computer screen. There is something about making things with your own hands that is always appealing. The way I work means that the piece emerges slowly. There is something almost magical in the way a collection of pigments on paper can suddenly snap into focus as a finished piece of original art. This is what draws me to printmaking.
The first day back was a bit of a disaster, it was almost as if I had forgotten what to do. Day two went much better, and I ended up with new work in the form of several small monotype prints. In case the word ‘print’ concerns you, it shouldn’t in this case. Every monotype is an original work of art. Unfortunately, there is a lot of confusion about prints. I’ve posted already on this, which is worth reading if you find the language used by galleries to sell art confusing
I always start small when coming back after a long gap. It is very easy to become overwhelmed otherwise. Actually, I enjoy working that way. There is a jewel like quality to small original art works., especially when put into generous mounts. They have an added advantage of course of being very affordable, which these days is an important consideration.
I’ve added some of the prints I made to the shop. The rest will be added soon.
This is the first of a planned series of posts about making stencils for gel printing using a digital cutter. In my case it is a Cricut Maker, but the principles are general.
Making colour separations
These stencils came out of some thoughts I had about making silk screen versions of my gel prints. I was hoping to use colour separations. This is the process by which original full-colour digital files are separated into individual colour components for four-colour process printing. Every element in the file is printed in a combination of four colours: cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. This is known as CMYK in the world of commercial printing and in silk screen printing. This isn’t an original idea, of course. Anyone familiar with Matisse will almost certainly be aware of his stunning cutouts, but may not be aware that they were also published in silk screen versions.
I began with a scan from one of my prints. I created the CMYK colour separations with Paint Shop Pro (from now on PSP). Unfortunately, I no longer have access to screen beds, so this is currently not an option. In practice, I don’t think I’m fit enough any more, to spend several hours pulling ink through the screens. However, having already used scans of pen drawings to make stencils, I decided to experiment with these separations. The print I’m using here is called ‘Area 52’, available from my shop.
The image below is an example of one of the colour separations. This is from the magenta colour channel. In this form, it clearly can’t be used directly to make a stencil suitable for gel printing.
Simplifying the file
To create a version that can be cut as a stencil, it needs to be much simplified. I did this using various tools in PSP, which led to this. (More details of the process by which I did this, will be in later posts. If you can’t wait though, get in touch and I’ll try to help.)
PSP allows me to digitally recombine these simplified images, which led in turn to this image. This is closer to what you would get with screen printing, but is useful to visualise the outcome.
However, just because a file is called magenta, doesn’t mean that it has to be used that way. PSP allows me to digitally recombine the image files in any order. With four files to combine, there are 24 possible combinations, so this one below is just one. It helps to make a point though. When the stencils are cut and used to make gel prints, you have complete freedom in the colour you use.
In the real, as opposed to the digital world, there are other variables. Varying the opacity of the paint used, and varying the order in which you use the stencil, will also give different results.
Finally, just as an experiment, here is a combination image using CYMK files from two different images. I’ve included it just to make the point that once you have the stencil you have complete freedom in their use.
In many ways, this last image is analogous to making a collagraph print from multiple plates. I have experimented with this many times in the past.
Since my last post, I’ve continued to work on monotypes. The count has now reached over 40 prints and I’m actively looking for a venue to show them, although framing costs would be a bit daunting! I’ve learned a lot from making them which I think will be useful in my other print work.
I’m going to add lower resolution versions to my Portfolio page but I’ve also added one to this post. Almost all of them are 30cm (12 in) on a side. I’m waiting for a new plate which will allow much larger prints, up to 20″ x 16″. It’s US made hence the measurements in inches – 76 x 41 cm approximately or just under A2.
A set of my smaller prints, in the ‘Cross’ series, are going to be used locally in a Stations of the Cross installation. This wasn’t a sale as such. One of my neighbours is the Church Warden and although I’m in no way a religious person, I was happy to make the donation. The church is a significant part of the view from my windows. I would be willing to take on a similar commission, so if anyone out there is interested, please get in touch.
Health issues again have prevented me from doing much work. Nothing life threatening, but chronic nagging issues really drain your enthusiasm! In particular I haven’t been able to stand at the press very much. As an experiment I’ve been trying gel printing.
If you are not sure what that is have a look on YouTube where there are lots of ‘how to’ videos. If you want to avoid 45 minutes of umms and ahhs, look for videos by Ruth Alice Kosnik, Jane Davies and Gerda Lipski. There are also many examples from the main manufacturers of these plates, Gel Press and Gelli Arts. He doesn’t have many up yet, but this video from Canadian artist Bob Pennycook is also worth a look for his ingenious jig to enable precise registration.
I have already posted the ‘basic’ version of this, (here) which is available in an edition of five. This is a one-off experiment in printing over prepared paper, in this case washes of acrylic paint plus some acrylic ink. I suppose this makes it a monoprint – or perhaps it is mixed media?
As an experiment, it’s worth recording, but I don’t think the prepared paper really works in this instance.