A day at AGNSW (Art Gallery of NSW), part of which was spent in the research library, resulted in discovering Bruno Leti, a painter, printmaker, photographer and book artist.
Born in Italy in 1941, he came to Australia when he was 9 years old. He later studied both Art and Fine Art within 3 establishments: RMIT, Monash University and the University of Melbourne. He went on to teach for some years before dedicating himself full-time to his creative work.
With several publications to choose from I started with this catalogue of his 1997 exhibition entitled The Neilson Lines. This event comprised 45 oil on paper monotype prints, each 38x48cm. The prints were hung in 3 rows between 2 pieces of perspex giving the impression of floating images. The centre row artworks were printed on fawn paper whilst the other rows were on pale grey, this arrangement represented sky, horizon and land.
I was attracted to these works for several reasons. Firstly it was impressive to see a large body of themed work, each unique but related.
Furthermore, I see a depth to these images, a layering of marks and a use of subtle colour variations. Whilst they are essentially linear there is still freedom of movement within both the strokes and the line work.
These pieces have been produced using metal plates with etched markings, so they are not fully smooth flat print plates such as I am currently using. By scratching out areas of his plates he has created impressions and texture before he has even started adding his printing oils.
I reflected on my day during the train journey home. Today I reviewed my printing to date and easily saw how tight and precise I’m trying to be. I feel a lack of confidence in both my drawing and printing ability is a huge reason for this. I’ve not allowed myself to ‘play’ and explore mistakes, I’m too concerned with doing the ‘right’ thing and making sure I’m following every instruction in the course manual, I’m not interpreting this course to fit my personality and produce pieces that might not be strictly what is being looked for by the assessors. But if I stray too far will I get penalised at the end? So I’ve set up a blog tag entitled Print1-Experimentation where I will put everything that might not fit the course exactly but that I want to try out for my own interest.
Here is my interpretation of Bruno Leti style imagery.
I started with 145gsm cream bamboo paper which I machine stitched using a double straight stitch. The first sample was with cream cotton thread, the second with a dark moody green. Both pieces were then painted with cold black coffee with a few granules dropped on and left to dry.
I mixed a yellow-brown colour (Hansa yellow, marine blue and red) adding extender to create a little translucency and also a very deep olive-green (Hansa yellow, black and a little of the previously mixed light brown).
For the first sample I applied the oil colours roughly by brush in horizontal strokes.
I realised that I had covered too much of the print plate so barely any of my coffee stained base colour showed and my stitching wasn’t as prominent as I’d hoped for. I had also tried wiping some small areas away with a rag but it’s very ineffective.
For the second sample I applied the oil colours with a rag and wiped a lot of it back off. I then heavily loaded a paintbrush and swiped horizontally across some areas. Wish I hadn’t done the vertical mark but it does break the rest up I suppose.
The coffee base has added a depth to this that isn’t evident on the first piece. Both will be trimmed and mounted on to a surround. I particularly like the bottom half of this design. It would make good ground cover for a landscape.
I remembered that I have some wooden clay sculpting tools. Thought they might scrape paint away and give better marks. So I rolled the remainder of the paints over the print plate and roughly drew into the surface. A random landscape.
Pretty happy with that. The tools enabled me to scrape wide strips as per the tree trunk, medium marks per the reeds and very light feathery marks per the small tree branch. The tree foliage was lightly scraped in zigzags and then pounced with a soft rag to take the harsh lines away. The same cloth was used to remove some paint from the top left corner.
I took an echo print.