Backdrawing from life
I first decided to trial a new registration method that I read about in one of our textbooks. The idea is to help keep the paper in place whilst layers are built up. Normally I wouldn’t have used this particular method because it involves hinging the paper so it flaps over the plate and flaps back again taking up quite a bit of space until the ink dries. As I’m using oil based products this ties up my print surface for a couple of days while each application dries. However, I thought that I may be able to backdraw each layer on top of the last without waiting, as only fine lines from the print plate will be transferred.
The perspex print plate was placed on glass (I happen to have a permanent registration marker under the glass and didn’t remove this) and masking tape was placed as shown. The paper was laid above this with masking tape tabs along the bottom edge so it could be brought forward to lie over the inked plate, as shown in the right hand picture. Once the first layer of backdrawing was done it could be folded back whilst the print plate was prepared with the next colour. Great in theory and should work very well.
After several attempts all prints ended up in the bin. No, it is not my belief that everything can be rescued. The layers of ink looked clumpy, the imagery was indistinct and fuzzy and I had a lot of interference transfer. No photos as there was nothing to interpret from them.
I looked back at my work board to remind me of the guidelines I set myself at the beginning: Keep the image simple. Make bold marks and shapes. Use a variety of colours. Leave some areas unpainted. My design was too complex and my colour wants were beyond me. I chose to go back to basics and produce a piece in a simple monotone. Drawing from real life – not one of my strengths, positioning, reducing interference and simplifying the design is what I decided on and thought I could cope with today.
I’ve spent the last few days, on and off, examining my garden bird bath. I’ve sketched it a few times, taking note of the shadows, the dips and grooves in the surface and the proportions of it. So I’ve drawn a section of it on the grass with part of a tree and a very straggly leafless spiky bush. My eyes picked up the variation in colour across the grass, the shadow of the bird bath and some leaves and fallen twigs on the ground. As the grass falls away behind the bird bath I’ve endeavoured to keep the proportions so the tree and bush look like they are much further away and rising up from a lower level as the ground drops down to the river.
Left hand print: 100gsm light brown pastel paper with sepia ink. This is the first attempt.
Right hand print: 110gsm cartridge paper. This print was placed over the plate without re-inking after the first one.
The lines I squiggled for the straggly bush are better on the first print where I used a pencil and could see where I had drawn. The second print was made using the end of a wooden tool so I didn’t realise I had drawn such a grid like pattern. However, I prefer the bird bath and tree image on the second print. Even though the plate was not re-inked before printing on the cartridge paper a light transfer has occurred across the paper and has given an impression of grass tufts on the ground and other shrubbery in the distance. The quality of some of the lines is softer than the initial print and overall, ignoring the unfortunate grid lines of the bush, the piece has a more unified appearance. My sketchbook drawings show much better line work on the bush so in future I’ll use a pen or pencil so I can see the lines I’m producing. Rubbing a cotton bud (Q-Tip) over the background bush area had no effect at all.
I’m not making a multicoloured backdrawn print at this stage and am moving on to the next exercise. I’m sure I’ll get the opportunity to do this further down the track. I completely understand the concept and hope to return to it.
Earlier in the course I was playing with my eagle image and drew some scenery in.