Playing with Printmaking

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I have been feeling like I’m in a creative slump lately. I have had little motivation to draw and haven’t felt happy with what I have been doing. It has been feeling forced. I wanted to step outside of my comfort zone, work with something different, so had a go at mono printing. Above are what I created.

When I started, I applied a bit too much ink onto the plate, so some of them are difficult to make out. I started by using black, something I feel comfortable with and then played around with yellow and red ink. Now I am more comfortable with this medium, I plan to play with more colours and explore mixing and using different colours layered.

What I really enjoyed about mono printing was the permanence of it. Each line made will show up on the final image, so confidence in the line making has to be there. I have been trying to break my need for precision, as it doesn’t fit with what I want to create, and feel that this was a good way to start doing this. I also liked not knowing what the print would look like until after I had finished drawing and the paper was peeled back. Again, the unpredictability worked for me.

I tried different papers, to see how their thickness and grain affected the line. I really like using kraft paper and how the rougher texture picks up ink. I have a sketchbook that I never use because the paper makes ink bleed and absorbs watercolour before you can move it around. I thought I’d give this paper a try as I have no other use for it, and really liked how the line was softened and feathered using it. It is also not bright white, more of a cream colour, which adds to that softness.

I tried using tissue paper also, as its very thin and picks up the ink with very little pressure. I only used this just before I needed to reapply ink to the plate so there wasn’t excessive ink on the final piece. I don’t know if I would use this again, but I did like using it to pick up the remaining ink on the plate, to use as textures for digital pieces. It was however, much easier to use when I had a go at creating a linocut. I would like to do more linocut printing as I don’t feel I have played with this method enough. I am starting to play with drawing in shapes instead of line, so linocut could play well into this experimentation.

I also tried using graph and square paper. I like the juxtaposition between a paper that has connotations of science, mathematics and precision, with drawings that are very raw, messy and personal. It’s like they’re fighting each other in a way. I want to do more of this in future work, as I feel it is a relevant comment with my subject.

I feel a lot better after taking this time to be free with what I create, allowing myself to be messy and unconstrained. Because of this, I have started to embrace the shake and rawness of my work and want to make this a bigger feature in what I do moving forward.

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