slightly wonky

Minor success!
March 31, 2011, 1:53 pm
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So, I received a phonecall today, telling me that one of my prints in the local show has won an award!  Seriously!!!  I was so thrilled.   Here it is:

I’m really happy, as I’m just a novice in pronto printing…but I did this anyway, and the judges liked it.  I’ve been working on my technique a bit more, and I think that I’m going to be able to produce better results.  I’ve only started another one, but I think that it’s going better:

Sorry it’s so grey…it’s very overcast today.  (We’re supposed to have SNOW tomorrow!  WHAT?)  Anyway, I bought a bigger brayer, which I think has helped.  I am also working on new paper, which I think is also helping.  Of course, I’ve only done the first color out our four, so we’ll see when I get the rest on there…but so far, I feel that it’s going better.

This is a little sketch that I work on, when I’ve finished printing something more involved, like the print above:

It’s just two colors right now, but I’m going to keep adding to it.

I’ve been SUPER FRUSTRATED with a lino print that I’m working on.  I can hardly bear to show it to you, as it’s turning out so horribly.  It’s just the first layer, so bear with me here:

You have no idea how many times I have tried to print this.  I’ve tried different paper…different ink…it always turns out blotchy.  I’d like to think that I could do lino prints without a press, but I’m starting to feel that this isn’t true.  IF ANYONE OUT THERE SUCCESSFULLY PRINTS LINOCUTS BY HAND BURNISHING, PLEASE HELP!  What paper do you use?  What ink?  How do you not get blotchy/unprinted areas?  I think that if I was working on an image that was mostly carved, it would probably be ok.  But this one is mostly solid, and it’s just proving to be a pain.

I prepared two carborundum plates for tomorrow’s class.  I think that they’re kind of neat, so we’ll see how they print!

I have a slight dilemma for next week.  The official opening of the art show is next thursday, which is the same night as my first carborundum collagraph class.  Egads.  I have to figure out which to do, as I can’t do both very well.  I may go to the class for an hour, then head over to the opening.  It’s my first award, so I kind of feel like I should go…I don’t want them to think that I’m blasé about it!


Something else
March 29, 2011, 12:34 pm
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I’ve finished up the woodcut print that I started last week.  I’ve printed this woodcut several times…with several different types of ink and paper.  This is on a grey Stonehenge paper with oil based relief inks:

Here is the group on our coffee table:

I’m still not happy with the printing.  I’m going to have to get some feedback on it.  I think that a press would help, but besides that…there must be other things that I can do to get a better print. 

I also did a few abstract screenprints.  I need to redo the actual screen, as it started to leak ink out of the side a little.  I like these, just as a start of something…

I still haven’t found paper that I think is great with this.  I’ll have to ask around.  Any suggestions?

I’ll have to remount that one…

I liked that one a bit.  Last one:

I’d love to have a real setup for screenprinting.  One more thing on the to do list…

If anyone out there does either woodcut prints or screenprints…please give me your recommendations on paper & inks!

It’s an amazing, sunny day out there.  It might even be in the 40s!  We’re starting to see some activity in our “garden”.  I put this in quotes, as it’s a small miracle that anything decides to come up at all.  I don’t have a green thumb, even though I have good intentions and try hard.  Here are what’s popping up today:

New Pronto Prints (continued…)
March 28, 2011, 10:16 pm
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It has been brought to my attention that I might want to describe the process for the pronto prints of my previous post.  Makes sense!  So, here it goes:

1.  Pronto plates work by having ink stick only to the marks on the plate (not the blank parts of the plate).  The ink only wants to stick to distinctly black marks on the plate…no greys.  So, think of a black and white photo…there is a lot of gray in there, right?  Well, you can’t use that black and white photo as a basis for a pronto plate.  The ink will not adhere to the grey areas.

2.  In order to create the illusion of greys, one has to convert the photo to a halftone.  In a halftone, the entire image is composed of dots.  In darker areas, the dots are more dense, in lighter areas, the dots are smaller and fewer.  So, the dot itself is not grey…it’s black, and the ink will stick to it.  It’s the density of these dots that creates the shading.  Think of a newspaper image…

3.  As I was not doing a black and white image, but a color image, I needed to create a halftone of each process color used to make the image.  For printing, the process colors are cyan, magenta, yellow and black (K).  This is different than the colors for your monitor, which are RGB (red, green, blue).  So, I created a halftone image for each color…and when you layer them all together, it creates the illusion of a shaded image.  Here is a closeup of the horse:

You need to have photo editing software to both create the halftone image, and to separate the original color photo into each of the four “channels”, CMYK.  So, for this image above, you can see the cyan dots, magenta dots, yellow dots, and black dots.  The patterning of these dots creates the image below:

You can control how large the dots are.  The larger the dots, the easier time that the ink will have sticking to the dots…but the more abstract the image will be.  Here is how the image would look if the dots were big…

This is a digital image, not an actual print from a pronto plate.  So…you have to decide what look you’re after.  Also, you have to see what works best with the pronto print process.  You might like very fine dots, but perhaps the ink won’t stick well to tiny dots.  I’m still figuring out what I think looks best.  Clear as mud? 🙂

New pronto prints
March 28, 2011, 4:10 pm
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Okay, my internet connection hiccuped, and I’m writing this for the second time.   Grr.

So, I finished the pronto prints that I started last week.  I had to print each CMYK on a different day, to let the ink dry.  I also tried out three types of paper, to see which I liked best.  After doing all of this, I thought of a fourth type of paper that I think will work great, but too late!  Next time…

This is printed on paper #1 (Rives lightweight):

This paper worked fairly well, but it’s wrinkled.  I’ll have to experiment to see if I can flatten it.

Here is paper #2 (Arches 88):

This paper is smooth, and picks up the ink well.  Unfortunately, the paper isn’t sized, so it doesn’t react well with the wet pronto plate.  Oh well.

Here is paper #3 (Rives BFK):

Not great, as this paper has too much tooth.

Also, I just ordered a larger brayer, which should help enormously.  Right now, I’m working with the tiny speedball brayers.  As a result, there are always lots of brayer marks on the prints, as I can’t roll over the image in one motion completely.  I have to go over it twice, and the circumference of the brayer is also too small.  SO!  We’ll see what happens when I get the bigger brayer, and try on a different paper.  One other thing that I think:  this image has only part of it in focus, the rest is out of focus.  This looks cool as a photo, but I’m not sure if it works with this type of printing, as it just ends up looking too blurry.  Next time, I’m going to use an image that is all in focus, to see if that looks better.  These aren’t supposed to be exactly photographic.  (If I wanted that, I would just print it on my inkjet!)

This weekend, I went to the Craft Fair held by the Boston Society of Arts & Crafts.  So amazing!  So much gorgeous stuff.  Lots of beautiful pottery, clothes, jewelry.  Needless to say…I got a sandwich there, that’s about it.  Maybe I’ll start to save up, and get something spectacular in 2015.

End of semester!

It’s the end of winter semester!  Boo hoo!  Last night, I had my final class with a wonderful group of women.  We all have different backgrounds (artist, art journalist, photographer, etc.), but we were all there as beginner printmakers.  I will miss them…the running commentary…the oohs when a print was first peeled off of the press…the jokes about our shoddy skills.  For you local people, Somerville Open Studios is coming up in a month, and one of my classmates will have her work on display then…I hope that I can go and see it!  I wonder if she’ll include any of the prints that she made…I’ll give more details when it gets closer to the date.

Here are the prints from last night.  I was working again with viscosity monotypes, as shown in the first two prints.  But I also incorporated a carborundum plate into the mix, as shown in the third and fourth prints:

That was just one pass through the press…I liked how it turned out.

This one went through the press a few times:

The carborundum element in this next print are the lavender brushmarks.  So, I printed that lavender carborundum plate on top of a monotype (thus creating a monoprint):

In this print, the dark purple areas are from a separate carborundum plate:

You’ll see this plate again in some of the following plates. 

My teacher last night looked over my bevvy of prints, and tried to give me a little critique on a direction that I might pursue (as I am fairly all over the map, as you may have noticed).  She noted that I typically either use a very linear/drawn/crisp language or a swirly/organic language.  Why not combine them?  Well…okay!  I think that this may sound obvious, but if you see others’ work in the class, then you’d see how different all of our work was.  I also felt that this was kind of a true assessment of me as a person…my left brain and right brain are fairly evenly balanced.  I’m not saying that either half is brilliant, not so…but I think the balanced relationship between the two has been true for me.  As an example, I got nearly identical scores in the SATs/GREs between my math and verbal  (umm…not a perfect 800 on both, sheesh).  So…instead of trying to be either one or the other, I’ll try to combine them.  This is kind of hard, as I don’t really shift well between the two.  But, I guess that’s part of the challenge.

Here are my prints from today.  Again, I started with a monoprint:

Then, I started to layer in the carborundum plate:

and again:

And then, my printmaking teacher wanted to see the carborundum plate by itself.  I think that she didn’t like all of my colorful craziness.  So, here is the plate the first time…I didn’t do a good job wiping it:

Here is the second time that I inked and printed it:

See the difference?  Then, here is the ghost of this print:

She really liked these.  Hmmm!  Shows how little I know!  I thought that perhaps they were too simple.  Next time, she wants me to layer in a very thin transparent layer…nothing too crazy, as I was doing above.  She said that the previous ones were “just experiments”, and “now you need to focus.”  Hmmm!  I take it that she is not keen on the crazier ones.  Well, good to know…less is more, perhaps!  Any comments/suggestions????  Random thoughts?  Artists that I should take a look at? 🙂

March 24, 2011, 12:51 pm
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I’m working again with pronto prints and my previous woodcut.  I’ve been scheming ways to make registration for the CMYK pronto prints work better.  My latest attempt may be good.  I managed to register the yellow and magenta layers.  Here they are:

I’m also experimenting with three types of paper.  The paper on the right is Arches 88, an unsized paper…very absorptive.  This isn’t such a great quality with the way that I’m doing these prints, as the area around the print gets wet from the plate, and this causes the surface of the paper to deform from the moisture.  Hmmm.  The other two papers are better in this regard, but I think that because they are sized and have more of a texture, they don’t take the ink as well.  Here’s a close up:

I also changed the halftone lines per inch, to make it less fine grain.  I have to balance clarity of printing (as pronto plates like distinct black/white), and clarity of image (fewer/larger dots=more abstract/blurry print).  Hmmm!  I think that the cyan layer, which I hope to do this weekend, will be revealing…

I am printing the woodcut on grey paper.  This is a heavy paper, unlike the fine Japanese papers in my previous post.  I have to let the first layer dry before putting on the second layer…I also switched inks again.  I know…I keep changing all of the variables!  I am quickly running out of space for all of these prints.  I need to devise some safe storage system.

There are some sparse snowflakes blowing around outside right now.  I really hope that they don’t amount to anything.  Maybe I should make some prints about snow angst?  The flakes are almost like white gnats bumping around…shoo!  Go away!  I’m tired of my boots/hat/gloves/scarf ensemble!  🙂

Woodcut and pronto plate revisited
March 22, 2011, 3:54 pm
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So, I’ve decided to try again with the woodcut and the pronto plate print.  I have sealed the carved wood block, and it did print much easier.  I also bought some Japanese papers, which are strong yet absorptive.  I tried out some other colors, and also experimented with the layering of the image. 

This one above was on a very nice paper, called sekishu.  Kind of pricey…but light in color and very fine.  I also printed this on another paper, called kitakata, which is slightly thicker and a warm, straw color:

Does it look different?  It would be obvious if you were here!  Here is red color scheme with one color rotated 180 degrees:

Hmmm… and here is the other color scheme:

and rotated:

What do you think?  I’m sort of thinking that the black geometric object should have been a different color for the prints.  I’m not thrilled with how these turned out.  Any suggestions?  I think that the colors turned out a bit icky.

I tried the pronto print again.  Here it is:

I can’t compare it to the first one, as it’s going to be in that local art show.  This is blurry, so I must have misaligned one of the colors by a hair.  SO frustrating.  I think that the ink application went better this time…so perhaps practice makes perfect.

I stopped by the Arlington Center for the Arts to drop off that previous pronto print.  I was lucky to get a sneak preview of the show.  Not big…but nice to see all the work of local artists.  The education director was there, and thought that I should take my Regent prints to the owner to see if he would want to buy one.  Hmm!  Worth a thought.  There is all sorts of protocol on selling art that is being shown somewhere else.  Also, you may not be aware…but galleries take a hefty percentage of the sale.  So, once you factor in the cost of paying the gallery, the frame cost, the materials cost, the labor cost…you can see why art is expensive, and hard to make a good profit from.  I know…having an Etsy account would likely help!

By the way…the art show opens on March 28 in the Gibbs Gallery at the ACA, for you locals to Arlington.  The reception is Thursday, April 7 from 6-9 pm. Come see!  (I will hopefully be there on the later side, as I have a class that night.)

Pronto print progress
March 22, 2011, 12:40 am
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So, I printed a pronto print this evening.  This is a type of lithography, where one uses a polyester sheet as a plate.  Then, an image is put on the plate, either by laser printer/copier, or by hand.  THEN, when this plate is wet with a solution of gum arabic and water… the oil based ink sticks only where the marks are.  Confused yet?  It’s very finicky.  It takes some serious practice.  It would also work a million times better if I had a press, but no luck.  I had to hand burnish, which adds to the “wonky” character of the print.  On a similar theme to my linocuts, this is an image of the local Regent Theater.

I know.  You’re wondering why the colors are all bizarre.  Well…the ink is happiest on clean, high contrast images.  When you have some subtlety…then things get dicey.  I printed each process color separately…CMYK.  So, this is an attempt.  I will try again another time…but it took around two hours to print this thing…just one print.  SIGH.  I kind of like it, though. 

It actually snowed today.  I know.  Horrors.  Big, fat snowflakes covered the yard…probably only 1/2″  or so.  Still, it was distressing.  I really thought that we were done with that for the season.  It has been known to snow in April though…

One in every color…
March 18, 2011, 3:59 pm
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So, the past few days were a bit productive.  I did lots of drypoint prints on Thursday, and some more solarplate prints today.  Last night, we had an amazing class with Catherine Kernan, who showed us viscosity monotypes.  This is where you work with both very thin ink, and very stiff ink simultaneously.  The two inks react to one another in very interesting ways.  I don’t have any images to show this week, though!  Our class worked collectively on five prints.  It was fun, as we just experimented with making marks, and were amazed at our results.  Hopefully, I will be able to show you one next week!

These are the drypoint prints that I made.  I incorporated a little of that carborundum technique.  This is where there are areas of dense color.  I’m not sure that it was so successful, so I’ll have to try again.

Hmmm…I also tried rotating one of the plates:

Hmmmm.  Then, I tried some chine colle

Also just “hmmm”…then I tried one of the plates in isolation…I liked this one the best:

Any thoughts?

Here are the solarplate prints.  I managed to print the relief plate this time.  This means that as opposed to smooshing the ink into the grooves, and wiping away the rest…a relief plate has the ink just rolled on the surface.  I liked this, as it created an emboss, and gave the prints more character.  I’m not so fond of the “flatness” of the smooth solarplate prints.  Here is what the emboss looks like:

Can you see how the paper is raised?

Here are the actual prints:

The greenish in the photo above is from the relief plate, so it is not just ink on the paper…it also has indented the paper as well (as shown above). 

I’m showing these in the order in which they were made…

My teacher thought that this one above looked “complete”.  So…I have to “complete” the others at some point…

And another:

I generally like these.  I agree that there is something “missing” in most of them.  I need another layer.  It’s always hard to add another layer later.  When these are printed, the paper has been soaked.  When paper dries…it shrinks, so you can’t put the same sized plate on unless you resoak it.  Unfortunately, sometimes the paper still won’t expand up to it’s previous size when you resoak it, then the plate marks at the perimeter won’t line up with the previous marks.  You can be VERY VERRRRY fussy in printmaking.  Actually, I should say…you are supposed to be VERY VERRRY fussy.  The only people who can thumb their nose at these rules are established, celebrity artists.  So…not me.  Not by a long shot.

Any comments?  Feedback?  Helpful suggestions?  Random thoughts?  Favorite place to get coffee?

Minor progress…
March 17, 2011, 1:18 pm
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This is turning out to be one of those somewhat unproductive days.  I AM getting stuff done…but my brain is a bit scattered.  If only my head had a restart button…

I did manage to get a print from the wood block.  I’m not thrilled with it, so I’m going to bring it to class tonight, to ask how to make a better print.  The ink is very blotchy, and not as transparent as I had hoped.  Any feedback would be appreciated!

It’s a lovely day out, as you can see in the bright photo.  I’m going to try to go to studio early, to print the new drypoint plates that I made.  Wish me luck!

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