Monday, 15 February 2010

Planning discoveries

I am currently working on the final assignment for the printmaking course. The project involves a monoprint plus relief print.

Part of the instructions reads as follows:

Begin by preparing several sketches and ideas in your sketchbook where you combine colour schemes, line drawings and designs. These will help you establish and decide on a final idea. Good preparation is always essential when preparing a new project. Do not be afraid to try different colour schemes using watercolours, inks or coloured pens and pencils. [OCA, Printmaking 1, p. 172]

Most of my print designs have originated so far from sketches done here and elsewhere, ideas captured as I come across and later referred back to. So, yes, there is a definite use for the sketchbook. But as far as the printmaking process is concerned, I have a hunch that the use of drawing media becomes somewhat limited. I think what I'm trying to grapple with is the sentence that

Good preparation is always essential when preparing a new project.

I fully agree. Agree on the basis that this is true when preparation is understood to be wider than the use of drawings in sketchbooks. Thus, preparation for the printmaking involves: printmaking. The making of a variety of marks, colour schemes, overprinting, wiping out on paper, different formats and different pressures when pulling the print.

To me it seems that the use of colour schemes is also limited when explored in sketchbooks. The property of the printing inks cannot be replicated through w/c, coloured pencils or acrylic ink; so, any sketchbook work is very preliminary.

For this project, I decided to prepare practically - by printmaking - rather than other media sketching/drawing. And in doing so, working my way through the various stages and its design/material/composition decisions that it required and how these related to the idea of an image I had in mind.

Starting point: The image in mind is one of a a series of very ripe cornfields in a late summer sun, somewhere along the Ruta 5, south of Santiago, Chile. A series of rather minimalist lines of the field patterns and some photos I took have been calling me persistently to do something with and the monotype seems a perfect opportunity.

Stage one: Preparing a ground for a monotype. I'm after a high chroma orange background to set the tone of the overall print. I'd like it to be densely build-up itself, before I begin with the monoprint itself. My first idea is to use a board of polystyrene and ink it up: first in hansa yellow, then in hansa yellow with a tiny bit of naphtol red. These two layers are done quickly. They dry with a heavy bumpy texture and form the base for more overprinting.

Stage two: Orange lines. I am experimenting with a darker orange/ red to overprint; trying out if I can cover the previous printing fully, partially, lightly. At some point I begin to scratch marks into in to: lifting ink with the palette knife.

Monotype, two layers polystyrene, one perspex plate, 20x20cm

And, I am ending up with beautifully thin lines. The plate, despite vigirous rubbing doesn't transfer strongly at all (probably because of the strong texture off the polystyrene layer), thus, the distinction between covered/uncovered orange areas is hardly discernible. What is however visible are these long, rather elegant lines where the ink assembled on the plate.

I think I have my lines for the monotype. I am unsure about the polystyrene effect though. It seems rather strong. It's very intriguing in itself, but possibly not for the design.

Planning: a process of experimentation and discovery. This can be done in a planned, systematic way. But I know that for my own working process, it needs to be step-by-step. Now, I may go back to the sketchbook to continue with the next stage.

There are some more prints that followed on from this discovery over at my other blog.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

bliss in three bags yellow to crunchy

raisins, dates and crunchy caramelised nuts on my kitchen counter via jerusalem's old town
thank you!

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

bliss in three bottles purple

pickled beetroot with horseradish

1.4 kg beetroot
4 tbs fresh diced horseradish
1 tbs black pepper
1 tbs caraway seeds
3-6 whole cloves
1 bay leave
0.7 l white wine vinegar
125ml water
80-100g brown sugar
1 tsp salt

wash beetroot, cover in cold water and bring to boil for 25-45min, depending on size. peel and slice or dice. fill while still warm into sterilised jars (this lot made 3x 500ml jars), alongside horseradish and spices. boil vinegar, water, sugar and salt. fill jars with the liquid and seal immediately. it keeps for a minimum of six months; i had some of them for well over a year or two; great with olive oil and parmesan. the recipe asks for fresh horseradish but any strong horseradish sauce works as well (cream in sauce doesn't seem to spoil the pickle).