This week we have been putting up the final show in college. There are two rooms, I'm in the smaller one. This is the second degree show I've set up, and let me just say, getting a number of frames evenly spaced and in a straight line requires a degree in itself.
My colleagues are displaying their work in a variety of ways including mounting prints onto aluminium, sticking prints to wooden boards, and pinning images directly to the wall. I've gone with frames for a couple reasons, my work is relatively small and I didn't want it to get lost on the wall. There are other obvious advantages like frames protect your work from sticky fingers and dust.
I've gone with a contemporary ash frame without mount board, so you can see the deckled edge. My work does not photograph well - so come and see it if you can!
This is Ramon, who is next to me and one along. We have quite a lot of variety in our room and I'm happy to be next to something a bit louder and brighter, I think its going to make for an interesting show!
This is a sneak peak at one of the plates I am using for the upcoming degree show. One of the things mezzotint is highly prized for is its ability to produce rich, velvety blacks. It can get very tiring staring at black all day, so I was wondering what would happen if I printed the same plates in colour.
Unfortunately, the answer seems to be: not very much. I had to mix these colours with oil and the powdered pigment myself, and its possible that I would get a richer colour by continuing to grind more pigment until the ink was quite solid but I feel the brighter colours lack the tonal qualities provided by the black and brown mix I normally use.
I added black to the purple and started to see the results I was hoping for, but of course, once you start adding black to things you lose the brilliant colour that I wanted. I didn't have too much time to experiment with this before the workshops closed but its definitely something I would want to look into in the future. There is also the option of printing in black and using watercolour on the prints to add colour.
Before I went the way of mezzotints for the degree show I was thinking of doing a few really large linocut portraits. This is a multiplate print. I had been looking at the book "Chuck Close Prints: Process and Collaboration" which is divided into sections based on print technique. Close seems to be a very process driven artist, his subject matter hasn't really changed all that much over the years, and in this book in particular I noticed that he uses the same photographs for source material over and over again (e.g the photo of Alex Katz from which Close has produced numerous portraits).
I am back to the mezzotints. I have started with a pre-rocked plate which will save me at least 5 hours work. The first thing I have to do is file and burnish the edges of the plate at an angle so they don't damage the paper/ blankets as they go through the press. Here is my trusty burnisher (one of 3) and my plate. You also need a bit of oil to help with the burnishing.
It is quite difficult to see what you're doing, but you can get an idea from looking at the way the light reflects off the surface of the plate, as a result I take on the shape of a 'human pretzel' (as it was once described to me!).
I think this was about 2 hours in, I'm half way but starting to get tired. Lunch time!
After I've inked and wiped the plate, I have a better idea of what the image looks like. I wish I could just exhibit the plate, I think it looks much nicer then the prints themselves.
The print didn't come out that well so I need to go back and add some definition to the lower left hand side of the plate. I also think I need to change the colour of the black to make it warmer, and add some oil to make it look softer. But all that can wait until tomorrow! It has taken at least 6 hours to get to this stage, I think I will need another 2 hours before I'm happy to start making prints.
Day 2 in the studio this week and I reworked some areas on my copper plate, then took another proof. I'm much happier with this version so I spent the rest of the day testing out different blacks (warmer/ cooler etc) and different papers. Last day of printing is less than a month away!
I've been working on a couple on linocuts recently. They're not too big, maybe around A3 size, but kind of as test plates for something much larger once I get the hang of things. I've noticed a big difference in the style of image depending on if I draw from a photograph (in the case of Jess, above) or largely from memory (the old man pic).
One of the great benefits of reduction linoprinting (where you use the same block for every coloured layer, cutting away progressively and printing on top of previous colours) is that you end up with no block at the end. I feel like its a great relief to destroy your block in the process of printing an image, it allows you to cut away without feeling too precious.
I'm not too keen on the flaming background but I'm still getting the hang of things. It's really nice to have colour back in my life after all that etching.