Monday, September 15, 2014

New work in process

acrylic ink on Maidstone 270 gm rag
4 colour stencils
edition of 20

I haven't posted since late June and most of the posts from earlier this year focused on my role as an art educator in the schools. The summer saw me occupied working on small print based studies that have been funded through an Ontario Arts Council Northern arts grant for new work. My series of around 20 studies will focus on the flora and fauna found in the region of the province of Ontario where I reside. The working title at the moment for the series is Small Wonders of the Boreal. All work falls within the classification of miniature artwork due to the size restriction. My goal is to present these works to the public in 2015 in the form of exhibition. A few of the studies also relate to the concept of 
species at risk.

Last week I spent a good deal of time working on several small serigraph (screen prints). This occurred outside of my home studio. I was asked to house/pet sit for a friend who owns a year round residence on a remote wilderness lake outside the city of Thunder Bay. The setting was quite beautiful and was the perfect location to inspire and motivate my creativity. The absence of everyday urban noises of traffic, people and planes overhead was very welcome and put me in a totally different headspace. 

The challenge for me was to find a space in her home where I could set up shop and be able to screen print.
I first created a portable screen printing surface complete with hinges, frames, screen material, squeegees, inks, papers and all other supplies one would need to create silkscreen imagery. I decided to use film and special latex opaque black ink as the basis for creating my stencils. Fine microfilament screen material was stretched across several wood frames and light sensitive diazo photo emulsion was flooded coated on to them. They were allowed to dry in a dark place. The positives were set on top and exposed to a light source. I developed the open stencils by spraying the screens with a fine jet of water post-exposure. 
I printed the imagery by creating a registration base for the paper and positioning of each screen to register with this base. Acrylic based screen printing inks were used. Several stencils were used and inks were printed starting from the lightest colour to the darkest. 
Editions have been kept small for this series due to budget for all of the materials I have required but also the amount of labour involved for each print application I am using.

Below is the process I have chronicled for one of the serigraph studies titled Pileated. It hopefully gives an idea of how the final image came about.

photo that I took earlier this winter in my backyard. 
A red headed pileated woodpecker on the suet feeder. Using artistic license I adapted a sketch from this photo and placed the bird onto the weathered trunk of a tree I spotted on a morning walk. It just made more sense to have the print reflect a more natural setting.

above is the tree and background sketch I made in ink on acetate using a rapidograph technical pen. you will notice that I have made little plus sign registration marks on the corners. These help to position the positive on top of the screen after it is coated with the photo sensitive emulsion. Registration is a key factor for all aspects of the process.

the clear film and opaque black ink positive for the bird and texture of the bark on the tree trunk. This would be the second last stencil (in this case the black ink.)

here is an early progress proof. I decided the reddish brown ink wasn't to my liking. I altered this to a colour of ink more akin to clay and what I think looked more believable.

The makeshift print studio. I clamped the screen base onto a dresser in an entry porch. The mdf board worked well. The height off the floor and having the board extend out beyond the top of the dresser making it ideal. You will notice the space is used for storage and housing a few pet facilities. The room had good indirect natural light through large windows. I strung up twine across the room to use for clipping the print paper onto to dry inbetween colour applications.

3 colours at this point had been printed