Thursday, October 31, 2013

Throwback Thursday

I planned a collagraph post today for the end of #printoctober, and was all proud of myself for squeezing it in, right before the end of the month. And then I remembered it was Throwback Thursday. oops. Can't be derailing the brand new feature already. Collagraphs will be delayed.

I dug through a bunch of old prints, so that I had a #printoctober post for today. This is an untitled stone lithograph, state VIII, 1 / 1. I have all the other states, and a 1st state in black only. This is on white paper, and I also have it on grey. dated 5.8.91. This is from Pratt.

I remember doing the drawing for this, and I'm pretty sure this is the piece that had a reversal. The reversal required the use of gasoline. As I was scrubbing the stone with gas, and I was pretty well covered with it, I smell cigarettes. A grad student was smoking while she was printing. I had to explain to her that, even if I wasn't using gasoline, that smoking in the print studio where she was surrounded with flammable materials was really not a great idea. She told me she thought she smelled gas, before she lit up. She was an idiot.

Yay! for not getting blown up.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

in the studio

I started the week working on the monotype of the text idea I had. This really was experimentation and I liked the look of the result but I could never make an edition this way. I think I want this idea as an edition. I did learn some good things this day, like I really need to use a lighter weight paper to get a decent print. You can see more about monotypes here and here.

I ended the week working on this project in styrofoam, which I will be able to print as an edition, when I get a few more kinks worked out and find some transparent ink. You can learn about styrofoam relief printing here. It's done with foam meat trays. Yes, really.

2 colors yellow-grey

3 colors: yellow-red-grey
I like this last one the best, as far as color goes. It's interesting how different these two (above and below) are, when they are the same prints just printed in a different order. I will need to do some more playing around with it, before I settle on a final printing. I especially like the peeling paint/old graffiti look they have. There will be a separate post about this color piece once it's done.

3 colors: yellow-grey-red

Midweek was prairie inspired monotypes and lots of sketching.


ghost monotype

subtractive monotype

monotype with watercolor pencil

There were a lot more monotypes than this. You're getting just the highlights here, because there are too many to post. #printoctober is coming to an end, but I don't really feel done with it. I still have a multi-plate/multi-color collagraph prairie piece I'd like to do, and I need to sort out that color for the relief print. There will be more printmaking at least through the next 2 weeks...

Friday, October 25, 2013

#printoctober: monotypes, part 2

Earlier this month I shared a post about monotypes, which I was working on for #printoctober. That involved painting onto a (glass) plate with gouache or acrylic paint, and then printing the image onto a piece of printmaking paper. This is additive printing, because you are adding
material onto the plate.

monotype, printed with acrylic paint

You do not need to cover the entire plate. You can also just paint/ink sections of the plate and print that. This is watercolor pencil drawn onto the plate and then printed with damp paper. It didn't work as well as I'd hoped it would, on a prairie piece, but the text came out okay. It has a slightly ethereal quality about it.

watercolor pencil monotype

watercolor pencil prairie monotype

Monotypes only yield one print. There isn't a second print identical to the first, and there isn't an edition. It's a one of a kind print. Last week I printed a different kind of monotype. This involved inking a (glass) plate, covering it with paper, and then drawing on the paper.

Here's what you need:

a plate, I used a glass I pulled out of a picture frame
a brayer (aka a roller)
pen or pencil

Roll out your ink and cover your plate completely.

not exciting, but seemed important to show
Lay your paper over the plate, and draw on the paper. Try not to put any pressure on the paper, other than the tip of your pen. Rubbing will leave a mark. This is good for shading, but not good if you don't want it there, so be careful. 
don't forget it's got to be backwards!

When you are done drawing, lift off the paper. You really only get one shot at this, but it is not difficult to lift. But once it's up, you can't put it back down, so be sure you are finished.

bad print, on printmaking paper

Here are a few more I've done over the last week.

You can also do subtractive printing. This means you start with a full plate and remove bits of ink, and then print. 

what can I say, I love the blends
Remove ink. I used toothpicks and q-tips. I was also printing with water soluble ink, so I took a wet brush and painted into the ink and later wiped some with paper towels.  

initial removal of ink with toothpicks and q-tips
final print

Here's what I learned:

If you are drawing through the paper to transfer the image: thinner, smoother paper works better. The printmaking paper was too heavy to transfer cleanly. I tried the printmaking paper both dry and damp and saw no difference. I switched to a much lighter weight bristol, and that worked well.

Another artist recommended making a cardboard window that could go around the plate, to keep your hand from resting on the plate. This is a really good idea, but I haven't made one yet.

If you are using subtractive printing, clean off whatever you're using regularly. The toothpicks, etc, pick up small globs of ink.

None of the less than stellar pieces are being trashed. They will be used as a basis for something else down the road. I also printed a small amount of the red-yellow blend, as rolled, with no markings, to be able to print over later.

This could really be several posts but I'm running out of October for #printoctober, and I still want to get to collagraphs and multi-plate printing. Hoping to get that done and organized in the next couple of days. Otherwise #printoctober will be turning into #printnovember...

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Introducing: Throwback Thursday

I've got a bunch of things happening in November. There's the closing reception for Intimate Persuasions, the Small Works show featuring my #art365 landscapes and Brabant Lenting's daily doodles at Paul Henry's. Artistic License opening at Studio 659. South Lake Artists Co-op 4th Anniversary Show also at Paul Henry's, featuring Live Art-making at the opening. And the Engaging the Arts Party at the end of the month, which includes a friend's Studio Sale and I've been invited to show some work, and hopefully sell it. all. Sell. It. All.

More about all of these in the future...

So I will be digging through older work over the next month and decided I might as well post some of it. There's lots. And lots of it is great, but it's in a box under my bed. And in portfolios. And boxes. In the stairwell closet. And the basement. Okay, it's all over my house. And that's how the Throwback Thursday post was born. Every Thursday, there will be a new/old piece of artwork  which is still available. Some are framed, some are matted, lots are works on paper, which could easily fit into a mailing tube...

This is comfort.  pastel, approximately 20" x 15" image size, this piece is matted and framed to 29" x 24" (although there's no glass in it, thanks to a game of ball in the living room...) Can be unmatted/unframed. circa 1994, San Diego.

disclaimer: Most of these older works won't have titles, because they either never had them or I've forgotten them and I'm not going to make up new ones. Once upon a time I made a lot of very obscure titles for my work, and consequently, I remember none of them. Except this one. 


Sunday, October 20, 2013

in the studio

I don't have a whole to show for this week in the studio, because I spent most of this week in the kitchen. As crazy canner lady. But there's been apple pie and cakes and applesauce and apple butter and apple juice (are you sensing a theme?) and persimmon juice which will make either a fantastic or terrible jelly. 

I spent a lot of this week just sketching out some ideas, most of which haven't actually been put into place.

Earlier this week, I did some relief printing from styrofoam meat trays. There is a blog post with in progress pics and details on how to do this here.

I finished out the week working again in monotypes, but a different version of what I had done previously. This involved rolling the plate, covering it with paper and then drawing on the paper. I'll have a blog post on how to do this next week.

I didn't quite have the paper centered, which was not a huge concern for me at the time. I'd just done a whole bunch of them very unsuccessfully and was trying a new paper to see if that would bring an improvement. 

Both of these prints are part of the same idea. And while I thought, after the foam print, that maybe linocut should be used for them, there is something good happening in the monotype. The downside, of course is that monotype can't be printed in editions. 

More work on theses ideas next week. 

And more canning.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

#printoctober: styrofoam relief prints

Last week I did some monoprints from a styrofoam plate. Or rather a plate made from a styrofoam meat tray. (But a plate from a plate would work, too... ) I didn't take pictures of the process, even though I thought about it. And, of course, I was asked for pictures I didn't take of steps I did. So I'm doing another one and this time documenting it, hopefully enough that you can see how to do it.

Here's what you need:
Styrofoam, of some flattish sort, like a meat/veggie tray. Not peanuts.
x-acto or mat knife
a pen or pencil
brayer (aka a roller)
ink (or some paint)

the tools of the trade

Cut the bottoms of the trays out. In a perfect (lazier) world, this would not be necessary. But the bottoms of the trays are stamped on the underside with branding and recycling logos, etc.  I found it easier to cut when the tray was upside down. Use a sharp blade. I didn't do this. Don't follow my bad examples.
the bottom of the trays. note the stamping.

et voila!

Now you are ready for your artwork. I drew out my idea and then just reworked it on the styrofoam, drawing lightly at first, so as not to make any indentations in the foam. My original plan was to have the text as positive space. This didn't really work. There was too much negative space to try to compress. Styrofoam lends itself to line drawing very well, but not much else (unless you are doing big blocks of color, or cutting the styrofoam up to add to a collagraph. It works great for that. And I just gave myself an idea for a collagraph. Look for a blog post about that next week.) 

Remember your image will be backwards. The red pen on my drawing was there so I could see it through the back of the paper. Working on black is not ideal. If you can't imagine the mirror image of your artwork, then hold it up to a window and trace the backside. Then rub the front side of your artwork with charcoal or graphite or chalk/pastel. Place your drawing right side down on top of your styrofoam and trace the drawing. This will transfer your image onto the plate. This is old school. (You could also scan it and reverse it in photoshop and then print out a copy of it reversed and then transfer that... but seriously, that's more effort.) If you press hard it will indent it as well. Once you have an indentation on the foam, you can print it.

completed plate
Now you are ready for ink. Roll some ink out, til the coverage on your brayer is even, then roll the plate. I didn't take pictures of this but you can see it in the linocut post. I was all fancy in that one, but this is rolled with just one color. I rolled it in light yellow first, so that you could actually see it. Black ink on a black plate is tough.
inked, so you can see it

Things I would differently: 
(also known as, what did I learn here? I try to remind myself that learning what doesn't work is just as important as learning what does work.)

Use a fresh blade. I was too lazy to get a new one.

I did cut against a straight edge, but it's not straight on one side, where I cut against the second plate to make them the same. Don't do this again. Also, get a t-sqaure out, because a straight edge isn't enough. It's not terrible that it's not square. Decide how important it is to you for your own design. It may be better in some cases to not be square. you might decide you don't even need to cut the styrofoam, that you can just tear off pieces of the edge until you get to a flat place. It could be cool. It will be hard to register multiple colors, but maybe that doesn't matter. You decide.

I need a little more space between letters, especially the av in have. 

I did try using linoleum cutters last week and they tore the styrofoam. It would be worth trying to cut a small v with an x-acto instead of using a pen to carve. If any of you try this, let me know if it works better. 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

in the studio

This week was all about relief printing. Early in the week I printed from styrofoam. An old meat tray (well cleaned) can be used just by drawing into it with a pencil. This can then be relief rolled or painted onto. I had mixed results with this. Several times mid process, I thought I really should be taking pictures of this, but it didn't happen. There will be a step by step post if I do it again.

monoprint:first try, painted in. 
Seeing this made me realize that I needed the background to complete the image. I cleaned off the plate and rolled it with acrylic paint, because it was handy. And now it makes more sense.

relief rolled
third try, painted in, monoprint

This is the plate post printing the above image. 
I really liked the look of the plate a whole lot better than the look of the print. Another artist suggested I print on black paper. I told her she was a genius. Sometimes you need someone else to point out things that are obvious.

. This is pre-printing.
I had a scrap of dark blue pastel paper. I didn't soak it because I didn't really think it would hold up to the water. And I used mostly straight paint without an extender. It didn't print except for couple of smudges. I didn't even bother to take a picture of it. Still worth examining further.

Next up was linoleum block print, or linocut for short. I did take some good in progress pics and posted about it earlier in the week here.

I was too light in the carving on this first try. The next day, I recarved parts of it and changed the blend. This was closer to what I wanted.

Today I reprinted with a slightly different color story and I am really happy with this. This picture isn't great, but I was dealing with late afternoon light. The paper is white. I printed an edition of 8 on this one. Printmaking isn't up on my website yet, so if you are interested in one of these, contact me directly.

Next up: some more experimenting! I have a plan for a multi-color lino (probably) multiple edition project based on the work I did this week. Another foam tray project, if for no other reason than to document it better than I did. And I've discovered not only paper lithography but aluminum foil lithography - although these will require some extra supplies like oil based ink.

Friday, October 11, 2013

#printoctober: linocut

It started with the missing brayer. I don't know exactly when I lost it. I saw it often when I didn't need it, and hadn't needed it in years. And then I started with monotypes and thought how handy it would be to roll the brayer over the top of the paper to print. But I couldn't find it. So I was using a spoon. True story.

My husband in a show of support went out to buy me a brayer and found a small intro to linoleum block printing kit, with a brayer included. Somewhere I have wood block carving stuff, but I haven't even tried to look for that and now here's this kit. And it #printoctober. And you don't need a press for linocuts. So here we are and what am I going to do with this?

Block printing is very graphic and my work just isn't at this point, but I came up with a plan. Keeping with the small landscape idea and to use a blend. (of course now I'm thinking I need multiple blocks...)

inadvertent ad for Speedball

I was thinking of this piece to recreate. I drive by this spot often and I really like it.

Here's a bit of the blend: violet, white and brown. I found clearanced ink at Michael's and was thrilled that there was magenta and yellow, but no cyan. Violet would have to do for now. And since I had to get the violet, and there was no green either, I got brown. And red.

the blend

the inked block

the print. 

It's not a great print. The 4" brayer is a little narrower than the 4" block. hmm... Bigger would be better here. And I was a little too delicate with the carving, so I will be reworking this in the next few days and reprinting. The thicker linework shows very well, but the rest gets lost, so I need to bump up all of the cuts to the next size blade.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

in the studio

I started this week finishing up before. After loading in 5 paintings at Angel Hair the previous week, I realized I needed one more piece there. So before is now complete and installed and ready for their opening tomorrow!

before, acrylic and ink on canvas, 40" x 60"

The rest of the week was spent working on monotypes for #printoctober. I switched at the beginning of the week from gouache to acrylic and have just about gotten to the right level of how much paint is enough, without being too much. It's a sort of fine line. The last image is a ghost print, which is printing what's left on the plate after a print is pulled. You can see there's residual paint to print, but the image isn't really there to be a worthwhile piece. It can be reworked with drawing or painting, and that is probably what I will do.

Other printmaking ideas to tackle: collagraphs, watercolor pencil monotypes, paper litho, inocut, styrofoam plate relief prints. And, a small etching press is on its way to my house so apparently more printmaking will be in the future after this month's #printoctober is done. If you are interested in seeing other printmaking, I recommend you check out the #printoctober hashtag on twitter.