I have been working on collographs for this artist’s book for about three years now. It will be about ships and shipwrecks.I only have the opportunity to use a press for three days every winter, so it is not just a matter of ‘getting on with it’.
I made 11 collograph plates and discarded one of them. Although I had two good sets of 10 prints, I lost interest for some time because I couldn’t think of a way to hang them together as a book.
Earlier this year while I was swimming laps, I concentrated on this problem, got in the zone, and came up with a solution. I then decided that two sets was barely an edition, and I would do another set. So on the last two printing days of this winter/spring, I printed another set.
If I was a purist, each print in each edition would be printed the same, however that is not the case at all. The first two images are printed from the same plate but look how the colours vary. As I’m printing in a group situation, and I’m not the one to choose the inks for viscosity printing, each printing day brings a new set of colours. The two middle prints (of seaweed, and of ship’s ribs)were printed on the same day, but with different parts of the large roller which had a blend of colours all along it. The other two were printed on different days. I suppose I could keep note of the colours and ask for the same ones. However I didn’t say I was a purist, and the thing I have always loved about viscosity printing is how each print is a surprise when it comes off the press.
At the end of October I went to my last Printfest of the year. That’s when I take my plates along & just print all day. I had two new solar plates this time, made from my own sketches.
For some reason the ink on the big roller with the blend on it wasn’t cooperating, and I got stripy areas with less pigment. No matter how much I wiped the roller, replenished the ink & rolled it up again, I still got some stripy variations in the pigment. Maybe it was the weather.
This first print is from this drawing. It was inked up in sepia with red on the flowers. Unfortunately we lost the red because of having to roll over more than once to get rid of stripyness. That’s printmaking for you.
The next plate is my blue-point Himalayan cat, Casper. These two prints were done by laying threads on the plate, then rolling across with a hard roller with a single colour on it. Then the plate was rolled over again with the large soft roller with the blend. The ink only picks up where the previous ink missed. (Read about viscosity printing on my glossary page).
This plate was taken from this drawing on the lower right. I think I prefer the blue, because he is blue-point, but both colours were available, so I tried both.
Here are more solar plate etchings I printed last weekend. The bins are from photos I took in the factory where the Matisse and Derivan acrylic paints are made. They are just wonderfully textured and coloured from a myriad layers of rivulets of acrylic paint dripping on them over the years. I thought the texture would be fun to use on a solar plate. Once I had the photo transferred to acetate, I drew into the dark areas around the bins. The one with the yellow is viscosity printed, with part of the image masked while they yellow roller was rolled over it. The other image only had the roller with the blend.
The little machine is from a drawing I did on the harbour at Blackwattle Bay a couple of years ago. I traced it onto architects drafting film with a pen, then I put some tones in with Liquid Pencil.
I made this solar plate from a drawing I did at the Australian Museum. At first I traced it onto architect’s drafting film, the way I did with these pomegranates. Unfortunately I over-worked it, which was so obvious because the original was much freer. I threw it away and instead did a photocopy onto acetate.
This has been inked up in black with a raw sienna beak, then masked across the bird while a blue colour roll was put on, then the blend was rolled over the top. It did start with a red crest, but didn’t really show by the time the print was made.
Two more collographs from my British Royals series, others of which can be seen here and here. The one in the green dress is Mary Queen of Scots. She was pretty scary looking when I did the first proof. However, I then added some Matt Gel Medium to her face, with a little Burnt Sienna added. That meant that I could see her features & what they were likely to print. Previously I’d just used Gel or Impasto, which was a bit silly of me. Mary’s face, hair and hands were inked up in Raw Sienna, then the dress in green and the chair and underskirt in blue. I did a yellow colour roll and then a blend, of which I had the reddish- brown at the top. I then wiped back her face and hands.
Ann of Cleves was printed on a different day, with different colours on the rollers, but still a yellow for the first roll, then a blend with pinkish-red at the bottom. She has been inked up initially in Prussian Blue and Sanguine. ‘In the flesh’ the sanguine looks marvellous.
Printmaking is over for the year now. What a shame. I will miss it.
A couple of weeks ago I went to David Wilsher’s exhibition on an old ferry at Blackwattle Bay. David, who teaches drawing at the Sydney Community College was successful in gaining a residency on this old ferry. What a treasure trove of images in that area. I took many photos on the day, but the sun was high in the sky, and a week later we went to take photos at 9 a.m.
The last two Saturdays, I did a solar plate etching course with Seraphina Martin. Fantastic! Last week we made four plates and this week we printed them in various ways. The first and second ones have been inked up a la poupee (different colour inks on different areas). They are also both photographic, with a bit of Photoshop, then after they were printed onto acetate I worked into them with a stylus.
The last one has been inked up in a dark brown and viscosity printed. The first colour roll (the blue) was masked with torn paper, then it was rolled with a blend. This one was drawn onto architects drafting film with Liquid Pencil, then some stronger darks were put in with a very thick propelling pencil.
I am really pleased with these three. Now I know the process I can’t wait to get some more solar plates and make some at home.