Today I finished prints of the two designs I have been working on. I was a lot happier once they looked a bit more like something. The various experiments in colour scheme weren't too illuminating; overall I think I prefer them plainer, certainly I don't think the texturing I was getting on the foreground shape did much. I need to do some more really ...
Another quite frustrating session today - I am finding it hard to work towards a design I already have in mind because of my low level of skill and experience at this. It seemed easier and more fun just letting the images come out of playing with techniques.
Anyway ... today I was doing some second colours on backgrounds for the dry stone wall images. I wanted to put some texture in and I used something I did the last time I worked on this idea - doing a wax rubbing onto the silk screen from a load of string stuck to a piece of card. it gives a kind of poughed field effect which is quite nice.
this is the sort of thing you get - I tried various methods of doing the rubbing, using harder and softer pressure, covering the string with stuff, and so on. here is a selection of results:
I want to work on a set of compositions abstracted from the patterns of dry-stone walls in the fields around where I live. I hope I can work towards some nice 'come to Sedbergh' poster designs from it - Sedbergh, where I live, needs a steady stream of tourists visiting ... This is the first version of one of the compositions:
you will notice that the register is off, ink has bled under the stencil on the black, and so on - it was a test piece when I was re-learning how to screenprint to get ready for this placement.
I had already done the basic composition on the computer, sad to say. I spent half the day working out colour combinations to try, making notes, etc.:
I am enjoying filling notebooks with mad scribbles - it's not my usual way of working, but I hope I keep on with it after this scheme has finished.
I began printing in the afternoon, and got the first colour down for both compositions. As you can see, these prints won't all be green ...
This session was the last one before everything stops for Christmas and the New Year. I stop, anyway - I'm worn out by the end of the year. I spent the time finishing the prints with overlapping yellow circles that I had started the time before this.
Halfway through I made the paint a little more orangey as it was getting hard to see the three circles on top of one another. For some of the last prints I put the third colour on as an all-over layer, which the eye and brain instantly converted to the background.
Do let me know if you're worried by how exciting this is getting and I'll try and tone it down.
I hope everyone has had the kind of Christmas they wished for, and very best wishes for the New Year.
Today I went further into overprinting thin layers of the same bright colour, using a circles-on-circles idea that was one of those I brought to the project at the start. I was tempted to go on with the straight-edged stuff from last time but I have a really strong desire to get some finished stuff out of AA2A and think I'll be more likely to do that if I discipline myself rather than going off on one. I can hear the clock ticking!
I went back to working out compositions before I printed this time. I made myself a sort of mocker-upper out of paper and paint (probably influenced by the collage mock-ups in the Bridget Riley exhibition I went to see in Liverpool the other day):
I could move things around quickly and make notes about arrangements that seemed to work. This is the way I am used to working on the computer - although this way I was committed to the sizes of circles! That wasn't a problem, though, as I had wanted to have a bit more of a think about the relationship of sizes of things.
I am interested in simple whole-number ratios between things - this is how you get consonant chords in music. For example, in a major third the frequency of the upper note is 5/4 that of the lower note. With the previous work, the diameter of the smaller circle was pretty much the same as the long edge of the paper, and the diameter of the larger circle was 4/3 that of the smaller one, but I'd not thought explicitly about it. In today's prints, I used a circle whose diameter was equal to the width of the paper and one whose diameter was 4/5 of that width.
I think I got some nice results, but they are getting close to the limit of my photographic ability ...
I got the third of the three two-circle compositions printed up this morning:
I recut the stencils because I didn't think last week's were quite even enough. I still haven't suficiently recovered from using a computer to enjoy the unevenness of hand-made things ...
It's always nice to change direction, and I enjoyed the afternoon, which I spent exploring very thin colours. I took a small amount of the morning's green paint and mixed it with a lot of the transparent acrylic medium to give a lovely thin and luminous print which gradually took on intensity as you overprinted it. I was just using a straight-edged piece of cellophane as a stencil, moving it about all the time, and everything was still coming out as landscapes ...
I tried grouping the prints to see if something a little larger-scale and ambitious suggested itself. Not yet, but I will keep trying. Next time I want to develop this with (what a surprise) compositions using circles ...
At the end of the last session I got one print (in blue) of the full-size 'closer' composition. First thing this time was to print a set in the sludgy dark colour I couldn't talk myself out of continuing to use for it ...
For the top shape, which I printed second, I split the paint and printed half with it slightly darkened and half with it thinned a bit with acrylic medium. Could I tell you which set a print belonged to? Maybe ... Did it help? Maybe ...
Next job was to decide which variant to go with for the 'flipped' composition. After a lot of staring, and collaging together bits from different prints, I made my final decision ... only to find it was basically the same as the one I had started out from.
After much more staring to decide whether to change the formula of the blue paint I measured the chosen variant and scaled it up to A3 and spent the afternoon printing lots of copies of Flipped. Here it is:
In both of these prints I am a little disturbed by the slightly off-circular edge of the smaller-radius stencil (the upper shape for Flipped, the lower for Closer) but it was hand cut so what can you do ... Maybe I will learn to love it, like the wobbly edge and not-perfectly-even ink coverage.
The first task of this session was to do the first two colours of a print in a different series from the one I'd been working on so far. The main thing is a calligraphic kind of image abstracted from a photo of dry-stone walls where I live, this is the background for it. There's a light yellow-green layer behind the stripy mid green. The first layer was a bit patchy - I was printing at A3 rather than A4, which all the previous stuff has been - and Natalie Shaw, the print technician here, thought to ask me if I was flooding the screen with paint before printing, and of course I wasn't. The image quality improved after that, thanks Natalie. The stripes on the second colour are done with wax resist on the screen, taking a rubbing from a load of string I had glued to a board.
Next thing was to put the second colour on the sketch prints for the 'flipped' composition; the paint, which I had mixed the time before, was a bit manky and I was doing everything in a hurry so paint was bleeding under the edge of the stencil, but they are only sketches after all.
To finish the session, I chose the final arrangement of shapes for the 'closer' composition, measured it up and scaled it up to A3 ...
Then very very quickly, with the blue paint since it was lying about and I didn't want to keep it, I did a test print. More on this next time with the proper colour.
I was still thinking about the colours for the 'distant' composition that I was working on last time, so I moved on to develop the second and third compositions I derived from the first experimental session.
This is the 'flipped' one - it has the larger shape at the top rather than the bottom. I tried both diameters of circle in each place. The colours will stay with the naive landscape theme that's creeping in - the upper shape will be sky blue! I got the paint mixed this session but ran out of time to print it.
I did get both colours printed on a set of variants of the 'closer' composition. The plan was to do both shapes in the same colour to see what difference it made to the way things were working, following the example of the Bridget Riley painting in the previous blog post. I thought it would save time too, but in the end I had to wash the screen because I forgot to put in any acrylic medium in when I mixed the paint so it started to dry in the screen - you can see some patchy printing on the bottom shape. Fantastic intense colour though ...
The composition idea for series of prints I'm working on is pretty simple ... just two differently-sized circles of colour wandering over to each other on a white background. You can find a lot of precedent for that sort of thing:
Bridget Riley's 'Kiss' from 1961, the first painting in her mature style and already a lot bolder than anything I'm planning.
Terry Frost's 'Red Black and White' (1967) ...
I think a lot of the impetus for these sorts of pictures comes from Swiss graphic designer Josef Müller-Brockmann, who was doing some superb work with circles in the 1950s. I think Riley would have been aware of him as she was working in an ad agency around then. Here's a 1958 poster by Müller-Brockmann:
Much less 'artistic' perhaps, but very much to my taste.