2019 07 22 Image of the week

Francois Cloutier

Through a couple of likes on my blog I was led to the WordPress blog of Francois Cloutier where I was introduced to some innovative dimensional art.  The riot of colour, the layering, the (mostly) geometric patterning and the built-up surfaces are all eye-candy to me.

Essentially, there are no explanations on the work process and how the pieces are constructed but fantastic photos show paint, texture mediums, blocks, possibly fabric and more.  Note: this approach makes me consider whether I’m being too wordy in my blog posts?  Am I taking the allure away from my art by providing too much in the way of explanation?

Anyway, Francois I hope you don’t mind that I’m featuring one of your images on my site this week.  Just post a comment if you’d like it removed.

Buenos Aires 2012-2018

Click here to take a wander through his site and discover a vibrant visual record of some of his travels.  Take the time, and brighten your day, it’s worth it.


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Experimental Etching with Tony Ameneiro: Prints 1

Print series 1

Source material as inspiration:
I chose this picture of bone calcification and zoomed into the detail.

Drawing the design:
After several small sketches I redrew my design to full size.

Transferring the image:
A zinc sheet was painted with liquid hard ground.  First time I’ve used this as I’ve only had access to grounds in block form before.  Melbourne Etching Supplies tells us:

Zinc plate with drying hard ground

The ground was left to dry.

Designs were traced onto the dried ground and, using a fine etching tool, lightly scrapped through the ground.  The plates were then immersed in a copper sulphate solution (Nik Semenoff recipe) which corroded the exposed areas of the zinc plate, so creating an intaglio etching into the surface.

The plates were cleaned and inked for an initial proof print.

Printing the components:

Great outcome, despite the slight imperfection on the design outline, top left.  If the hard ground resist isn’t thick enough and a brush stroke is evident it will etch, and that’s what happened here.  I have to live with this.

I cut a piece of .5mm clear PVC film (acetate) into 3 pieces and used 2 of them to add an underlayer to the print.

Using a diamond-tipped etching tool I scratched a design into a second set of PVC sections and reprinted.

Using some builders scrim I created a pattern in a similar way to my recent Connections project method and continued to experiment.  Here are some of the better results:

Very subtle patterning from the embossed scrim on the left of the photo but an attractive outcome.

Above is part of the process to build the print.  Obviously, the orientation of the piece is affected by the direction the press travels and each end of the paper has the potential to be trapped under the roller while the next acetate or zinc plate is put in place, thereby ensuring correct registration.

This is probably my best multi-layer print.  However my preference leans towards the first plain black proof print, the black print with the blue edging and this final print prior to adding the blue layer.  I like the idea of stopping before adding the final zinc plate.

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Experimental Etching with Tony Ameneiro: Source material

Several days printing, in a residential retreat, with tutor Tony Ameneiro and 9 other keen printmakers was a great way to spend last week, and super stimulating.

Having no idea what his take on etching was and what materials we would be using I  put some forethought into some (hopefully) appropriate imagery to work on, or from.  Anyone following my blog knows I like to work with themes rather than just puddle around and produce prints that don’t have an underlying message or meaning to me.

Still being brain-immersed in connections and the like I reviewed my recent work and found myself as intrigued as ever by this idea but I needed a new challenge.  So instead of looking at manufactured, imaginary and external connections I chose to look internally, and so it was that I raided the internet (via google searches) and came up with some brilliant pictures of cells, skin tissue, muscle fibres, neurons, brain membrane and the like as my source material.

Looking Within project

My first choices to work from were these:

Clockwise from top left: brain cells, electron microscope various cells, brain neurons, cytokinesis

Clockwise from top left: bone cells, cellular membrane structure, fat cells, empty fat cells

I wondered whether they may be too fragmented so I considered striated imagery:

Clockwise from top left: areolar connective tissue, striated muscle fibres of the heart, bone calcification, skin tissue

Luckily, once settled into the class and with an understanding of how we would initially be working, my choices weren’t too bad.  So I started preparing my first print concept.

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Monoprinting from nature: progressive printing

This is not something I’ve done much of in the past as I lean more towards ‘manufactured’ shapes and abstract designs but as I’ve been saving and drying some plant material it seemed like a good opportunity to put them to use.

The paper sizes are the same as those for my Connectivity/Connections project and I’ve mainly used 250gsm BFK Reeves.

The idea is to roll ink onto acetate, place plant material on, put through the press and then continue inking and turning plant materials and adding layers to the monoplate (acetate) as you take a progressive set of prints.

Print 1 was the initial inking, and damp 250gsm Arches 88 paper was used.  BIG mistake as I hadn’t realised that number 88 in the Arches range is a watercolour paper and soaks up water like blotting paper.  Fine for my dry-paper monoprints but a disaster for this type of image transfer.

You can see how undefined and rough the images are but at least the plant fibres had good ink uptake, allowing me to turn them over and start looking at their image transfer on the following prints.

Print 2 & 3 show some layering with number 3 being a ghost print, but the damage was done to the imagery by using the wrong paper for image 3.  However, you can see below how well the plant fibres held onto the ink from print 1 and how much detail is possible from textural leaves and foliage.

Print 4 used the same materials but turned and moved around.

Print 5 shows some new and re-inked materials.  Essentially these first stages should be classed as ‘waste’ prints until more layering is achieved.

Print 6 is after several layers of inked material, trial printing (see above) and continual overlaying of plant material.  This creates some nice strong imagery with ghosting in the background, which is what I was aiming for.

Print 7, well I just had to do it again!

By dampening the printing paper (and using the correct paper to start with!) it’s possible to continually reuse the original acetate base without cleaning residual ink between prints.  You just need to continue to re-ink your components – in this case plant material – and place them in different positions before pulling a new print.  The imagery gradually becomes more complex as some areas fade whilst new layers come to the fore.

As an example, you can see in print 6 where the 3 leaves on a single stem were run through the press to pick up ink initially then turned over and printed on top of the residual image.  In print 7 they have been re-positioned again, creating a third image transfer while the previous layers lighten and merge into the background.

Having several inked acetate bases at the same time enables you to build up quite a decent resource of material to be interchanged and overlaid.

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Printing: A small aside

It’s never too late to complete a project.  You just have to become a hoarder and never discard anything.

Some considerable time ago, using the back-drawing monoprinting technique, I produced some small pieces which I went on to embellish with hand-stitching.  These were then added to a small concertina book created with 250gsm Stonehenge paper and dipped into coffee (from memory).

It languished in the cupboard waiting for the other side of the concertina to be completed.  Many times I brought it into the daylight but couldn’t come up with an idea to complete it.

However, in April I spent a day natural dyeing with my friend Annette where I pre-cut some raw silk to size and dyed the pieces with rosemary and copper sulphate.  These were to complete my book after some further work.  So a couple of weeks ago I back-drew onto them.

The method is simple: Roll ink onto acetate, very gently lie paper or fabric over the ink, place a sheet of waste paper such as photocopy paper over the surface, take a pencil and – without resting your hand on the surface – draw a design.  The ink will be picked up from the acetate and transfer to the paper or fabric.

Here is the record of what I drew on photocopy paper over my raw silk.

And here’s the finished concertina book, now double sided.

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2019 07 16: Image of the week

Whilst scrolling through the Robin & Lucienne Day Foundation website I came across this wonderful photograph of Lucienne with her wildly successful fabric Calyx.

Calyx, Luciennne’s breakthrough furnishing textile for Heal’s, was specially created to complement the forward-looking style of Robin’s (her furniture-designer husband) high-cost living room / dining room.  Taking its inspiration from modern art, this bold abstracted floral marked the birth of a radical new aesthetic in pattern design.  Calyx went on to become a best-seller, winning a host of awards, confounding the initially cautious expectations of Tom Worthington at Heal’s.

Lucienne Day: Calyx, screen-printed furnishing fabric, 1951


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2019 07 01 Image of the week

Tony Ameneiro, Escarpment Night; pen, ink, watercolour, 1997

As a big fan of Tony Ameneiro I’m looking forward to a 5 day immersive etching workshop with him next week.  Today seemed like the right time to re-familiarize myself with his work.


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