Monoprinting: Linear Containment – Stage 4

Continuing with the triangles but moving into more positive and negative shapes and spaces.

Above: masked prints on handmade plant fibre paper, smooth side.  These will be further worked with more layers.

Above: Back-drawing in charcoal (Sepia & Pthalo Blue mix) on 2 different plant fibre papers, rough side.  I lightly ran my flattened hand across the back of the paper when on the print plate to achieve ink transfer to some of the more textural areas.  Very happy with these and this technique will now be added to the first prints above.

Above: Reverse of back-drawn plate with both positive and negative masks on handmade recycled mountboard paper, rough side.  The rollers used on the smaller components are my own (so are clean, even and perfect) but the large roller used on the charcoal plate belongs to the studio and rolls a little unevenly – due to it being old and heavily used.  I need to ensure I turn the plate several times when inking up so coverage is more uniform.

Above: Ghost print with both reversed masks (pre-used, without cleaning) and removed masks, on handmade recycled mountboard paper, rough side.  Above right: close up of masked area patterning.

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Monoprinting: Linear Containment – Stage 3

Loving the precise lines and solid colours of this project.  As the inking up, layering and multiple press passes is quite long-winded I only had a chance to do two samples for this stage.

If you followed stages 1 & 2 you will notice that I’ve cut different triangles for this phase.  I wanted to try interlocking them to see how the masks would relate to each other as they went through the press.  They have worked beautifully and there is no movement or alteration in colour saturation where they overlap.  I thought the masks may slip, the thickness of the plastic layers may create a problem where they sit atop each other but this hasn’t happened. Fantastic!

I wanted a very reduced colour palette but this hasn’t quite given me enough ‘lift’ in the final image, it’s a little dull but a good start.

A change of orientation, a lightening/brightening of the Cadmium Red Dark, an addition of my favourite green (although a little darker than I normally use) and some layering on the smaller triangular aspects.

3 hours to create 2 prints was worth every second.  Very, very pleased with this last one.

Moving on ……… to Stage 4.

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Watercolour painting – Lesson 3

LESSON 3: Three colour sky

Sample 1:

I’ve mixed the correct colours up but not really integrated them into the composition well yet.

Sample 2:

This isn’t too bad and I’ve more white cloud here.

Sample 3:

Clouds and top of the sky is fine but the area closer to ground level has got wiped out and has no definition.

Sample 4:

Not bad, could be better.  I’ll move on to the next lesson and continue working on skies as a learn about landfall.

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Monoprinting: Linear Containment – Stage 1 & 2

My theme for this project is ‘Linear Containment’ and my start point is a simple triangle.  These monoprints are being formed in layers using multiple masks.

The aim is:

  • to achieve crisp, sharp objects with some overlapping
  • an ordered visual outcome
  • to produce images that evoke emptiness, hollowness, no life
  • to establish a sense of confined spaces, but without specific explanation
  • to create an outcome for viewer interpretation


Unfortunately I’m not always the best at recording my creative journey and often spend time mulling ideas over while out walking the dog, then record only a fraction of my ideas before moving to experimentation.

I really should have cut out cardboard and moved things around, tried colour schemes and so on, but instead I went to Photoshop and played with moving the components there.  Much quicker but possibly not as satisfying.

I chose to use the lower image above to start with.  Ultramarine blue and 2 different yellows were picked, hoping I would get a good green mix on the second print run.

What a shocker!!!!  Disgusting.  First sample (left) super heavy, dull and deserves the bin.  Second sample I used 50% translucent medium in the blue, pressed with tissue to remove additional ink and printed twice, once with a mask over the main larger shape and once without.  OK, moving on ……..  Don’t have time to mix up a new colour batch so let’s see if I can improve it a little at least.

OK the feature triangles are better with the multi-colour (rainbow) roll and as my mask is quite a thick plastic I’m getting the slight white halo around them as I wanted.  So one thing has worked, but the blue and yellow mix on the large shape is truly awful and the random patterned background also isn’t what I’m after.  It’s taken away from my ‘sharp, crisp image’ aim of the project.

Note to self: I detest blue at the best of times so why persist with trying to achieve a satisfactory outcome with something I  don’t see working clearly in my head?  Let’s go back to a colour scheme I love instead.


A new day, a new colour palette, another view on ‘Linear Containment’.

GREAT colour scheme!  More earthy.  Huge improvement in colour, placement and linear dynamics.  Today I’ll continue working on the background patterning covering around 2/3rds of the print plate.
300gsm Hahnemuhle, 3 sets of masks + corrugations, 2 x through the print press, solid colours.

A little bottom heavy, not such a good directional pull (to my eye).  May look better rotated.

I prefer the first sample in this stage.

300gsm Hahnemuhle, 3 sets of masks + corrugations, 2 x through the print press.

Colour was applied roughly to main green feature using small roller to obtain uneven coverage.  Colour added to smaller triangle which remained clear in the first sample.

Final print for this stage.  An additional layer in this print to achieve the ‘ghost’ sections.
250gsm BFK Reeves, 3 sets of masks + corrugations, 3 x through the print press.  Unfortunately one of the masks tore slightly, which is very evident.

Now let’s put these (and new) ideas in a virtual container, shake them up and see what falls out for stage 3, and beyond.

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Watercolour painting – Lesson 2

LESSON 2: Two colour sky

300gsm Medium Arches watercolour paper:

Sample 1:

Nice sharp edge to the land area considering I haven’t learned how to do that yet, but not enough variation in blue from upper to lower sections.

Sample 2:

Lost some of the distinct edging to the land on this one and I’m not overly impressed with the sky.

185gsm Medium Arches watercolour paper:

Sample 3:

Again, messed up the land but getting the clouds better.  Trying to get my brain to recognize the differing colours in the clouds and the variation in the strength of the blue across the sky.  Improving.

Sample 4:

This is passable but I do have a tendency to have a lot of clouds.  Variation in blue from upper foreground to horizon line is quite good.  Definite progression in cloud shape and colour positioning.  I’ll probably look back in 3 years and see how rubbish this all is but it’s working for me at this point.

On to lesson three.  More sky, I think.

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Watercolour painting: Lesson 1

For a while now I’ve been wanting to add colour to some of my prints.  Watercolour seems like a soft colour approach but it’s not something I know anything about.  So I’ve embarked on a beginners watercolour landscape course.  I don’t necessarily want to paint landscapes (and that will be a bonus outcome, in my view) but I thought it a good start point to learn how to apply the paints to create different effects.

LESSON 1: Creating a single colour sky with clouds.

185gsm Medium Arches watercolour paper:

Sample 1:

Not enough cloud definition.

Sample 2:

Much letter definition.  A better spread of blue, darker at the top and fading towards the horizon.

300gsm Medium Arches watercolour paper:

Sample 3:

The  texture of the thicker paper is much more pronounced.  This sort of speckled look doesn’t appeal to me.  However, the variation in the laying down of the sky is better, a little more differentiation between high foreground and lower background towards the horizon.

Sample 4:

In this one I see definite movement in the sky.  It feels like the wind is blowing the clouds along.  I seem to have got the hang of the blue colour placement and the clouds have improved.

I haven’t learned how to do land yet so just put something in to ground the composition, and even that has improved over the four samples.

On to lesson two.

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The glory of oranges

I love my orange tree.  It’s the pride of my garden, closely followed by my mandarin and banana trees.  I’m not a great gardener but this tree rewards me every year, and I’ve just harvested kilos and kilos of gorgeous juicy fruit.

After making multiple jars of marmalade, and squeezing several containers of juice, I found myself left with a couple of buckets of orange peel.

It felt like an excellent time to see if it’s possible to make paper from peel and pith.  Surely there would be some cellulose in the pith at least?

I put the lot in a muslin bag, tied it up, boiled it with a little caustic soda (possibly a mistake in hindsight, but at least nothing will ever go mouldy in the future!) and left it to cool.  The pectin turned to jelly as the pot cooled – oh, how I wish I hadn’t put caustic soda in, I could have tasted it!  The smell was amazing.

Rinsing took a while and the skins started to fall apart under my hands.

No amount of rinsing would get the water to run clear so my mush went into the blender to be lightly pulped, still running orange colour!

Using my normal papermaking techniques – documented on this blog many times – I proceeded to make sheets of paper.  The orange pulp didn’t have enough fibre to form sheets alone so I mixed it with varying quantities of my cardstock pulp and came out with some lovely, and fragrant, sheets of A5 and A4 paper.

Clockwise from top left: Plain A4 sheets, A5 sheets with added banana pulp on some, close-up of textural surface showing specks of peel throughout.

That was fun!  More pieces for my ‘earth’ theme book I am working towards creating.

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