Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Collagraph - collage plate print

I am currently working a small series of collagraph prints which are a combination of intaglio and relief printing surfaces.

The untitled work pictured above represents streams of water, one passing through a channel in rock and the other flowing over a ledge.

I may apply a bit of hand tinting to one of the proofs to see how the image might be affected. Another option is to dab small areas of colour ink to the plate using an a la poupée technique where ink is dabbed on with tiny bundles of cloth and selectively wiped. Poupée comes from the french word for dollies or dauber.

The base plate is a piece of tagboard to which I have applied glue and affixed elements such as thin pieces of scratchfoam (styrofoam product), living organic materials such as grasses and conifer needles, more cardboard and the odd scrap of fabric. Then acrylic based modeling paste was added using a brush and worked with the brush tip to create interesting textures. The rule of thumb is that anything with a low relief (and will not damage your roller) can be attached to the plate which is then sealed with varnish.

Here I have worked into the styrofoam with a needle and also by pressing coarse grit sandpaper and burnishing it to leave impression marks in the styrofoam surface to replicate the pocky texture found in igneous rock that is commonly found in the region where I reside.

Ink is applied and wiped into the lower recessed areas and also applied using a roller to the surface relief areas.

In this particular image I have applied one colour of oil based ink that coated the entire plate and then I carefully wiped away off surfaces using tarlatan (starched cheesecloth), tissue and old phone book pages.

I soaked a piece of 250 gsm rag printmaking paper for about 20 min. in lukewarm water then blotted it between pieces of newsprint and tissue until it was ever so slighty damp to the touch. The plate was set onto my etching press bed, the paper placed over top and then two layers of wool felts over that. It was passed under the rollers using a fairly tight squeeze (as the plate is a bit higher it doesn't require the same amount of pressure as that of metal plate etching).

Liking how the ink deposits into the recesses and with selective wiping creates a look similar to an etching with aquatint.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Water pool - along Superior (Solar plate print)

Water Pool - along Superior
solar plate print with hand colouring
Image size 5 x 7 in. (12 x 18 cm)
paper size 8 x 10 in. (20 x 25 cm)
variable edition of 24

I used one of my photos as reference to draw a rough which led to the creation of the print.

Pictured above is the second stage on frosted drafting film from original sketch done in pen and ink and fine point marker with washes applied using thinned down india ink. The first rough sketch in pencil on paper was placed underneath the drafting film and was used as a guide to apply the washes first. Once these were dry I then added in the linework and dots with pen and ink. This was then scanned at 600 d.p.i. on my scanner and printed in grayscale onto an inkjet transparency.
Exposed the transparency onto a 5 x 7 inch solar plate using the double exposure method, first stage being the aquatint screen exposure followed by the grayscale positive. The aquatint screen acts like a halftone to pick up the lighter elements in gray from the image so as not to get a high contrast effect.

Printed on Canson Edition 250 gsm off white with Graphic Chemical Bone black ink. Colour was added using washes of watercolour.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Elementary School Art - Collagraph prints from Nature

collagraph print
water based ink on rag paper
plate size 20 x 25 cm (8 x 10 inches)

I recently was contacted by a Gr. 5 elementary school teacher in Thunder Bay expressing interest in having me come and undertake a printmaking based project with his class.

This is for a program called Artists in the Fifth. This program has been up and running for the past few years where grade five students and their teachers in regional schools choose to bring in actual working artists (visual, musicians, dance and movement, writers,etc..) to the classroom and the children work directly with us on unique and exciting projects designed around particular themes. The results of these projects are then presented to the local community in a one day showcase called An Arts Fiesta which takes place every Feb. at our local community auditorium. The participating schools with the students and teachers are in attendance as are the artists who have come into their classes. In addition the public and local media are invited to come and participate.

The visual art creations are displayed on panels or hung on the walls while music, spoken word and movement pieces are performed on stage.
The theme this year for the program is Design by Nature.

The class I will be working with decided they would like to explore collagraph printmaking and so I decided to create an example print that illustrates what can be achieved.

For this particular study I incorporated natural materials found in nature such as leaves, blades of grass, conifer needles. These were adhered to a thin paper plate with PVC glue. I also added in some background texture to the plate by working a thin layer of acrylic gel medium in with a paint brush. When everything was dry and the gel had hardened I coated both sides of the plate with acrylic latex house paint. This helps to seal and waterproof and keep the tension equal on both sides of the plate.

I then applied waterbase printing ink to the plate surface by painting it on with a brush, dabbing it into recesses with sponge foam brush or small bundles of material. The ink was then wiped with rags or worked with my fingers until I felt it had reached a point where it was ready to print onto paper.
As the waterbase ink was starting to dry I applied a fine mist of water spray to the plate surface and also to the one side of the paper which was then set over top of the plate. Both plate and paper were set on the bed of an etching press and a rubber blanket was placed over top of the plate/paper. I passed the works under the roller of the press (it was set for a bit of a squeeze) but not as much pressure as one would require to print a etched thin metal plate.

Notice how the combination of pressure and ink picks up the fine structures found in each object especially the leaves and the cedar needles. This is a direct example of designs created by Nature as they are observed in the actual materials used. I have taken the natural components and arranged them in such a way to teach the students about composition, colour, texture and
the like.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Applying colour into a solar plate print

Lichen Formation
solar plate print with hand colour
edition size of 40

I finally got around to applying a bit of colour to this work which was originally featured back in my Feb. postings (without any colour application). This was derived from a photo I took and that was converted to a positive transparency and exposed onto a solar plate. Using my homemade UV exposure unit I used a two step process where the plate was first pre-exposed for about 3 minutes to a fine dot aquatint screen followed by an equal length exposure of the grayscale positive. Both the screen and the transparency positive were sandwiched tightly under a 3 mm (1/8 inch) thick piece of clear glass on top of the plate which was set on a dense piece of foam and wooden baseboard using plastic shop spring clamps.
The plate was developed using tepid water in a photo developing tray and using gentle scrubbing of the polymer surface with a soft bristle tooth brush.

It was then blotted quickly with newsprint and dried with warm air from a portable hand held hair dryer. The polymer was then set under the unit for about 10 min for a post exposure to cure (or harden) the surface coating.

I then inked the plate as you would a traditional etching and using Graphic Chemical Intense black oil base ink printed it into a slightly damp piece of Somerset Velvet 250 gsm off white rag paper.

The print was adhered onto a piece of board using gum backed butchers tape. I had set some aside into a storage bin in the studio and a few days back rediscovered those so decided to apply hand tint into the piece by first wetting the areas to receive colour and then allowing watercolour wash to bleed into the white areas of the paper to apply the colour tint effect.