Unfortunately I’m swamped with life outside my OCA course until mid next week and have not got quite as far as I’d hoped with my printing. However, some progress has been made and new questions and thoughts have arisen from my work over the last week or so.
Having tried many, many different papers over the months I’ve decided to work on two specific ones in this project: Arches 88 and Kozo Extra Heavy (which isn’t heavy at all – feels like about 70gsm to me).
Why these? Arches 88 Paper is a 100% cotton, mould-made and buffered paper. It has a beautiful smooth surface and is creamy white in colour. At 300gsm it is a robust heavy weight product which (in my experience so far) loves going under my book press. Various write-ups on-line state that it is perfect for painting techniques that require high absorption and is suitable for acrylic paints, gouache and printing inks.
I’m finding that as long as I keep to what I’ve learned in regard to KIT (Keep It Thin – relating to ink coverage on lino) when I transfer the image to the paper from the lino under the press it seems to sink into the cotton and really become absorbed by it and therefore integrates into the paper surface. No matter how much pressure I apply to the press, and I’m building up some muscles, the oil based inks don’t ‘squidge’ out and blur. In the last project a couple of my prints did smudge slightly but I wasn’t rolling the ink thin enough – and I’ve just accidentally done another over-inked piece, but I keep improving.
Kozo Extra Heavy is another paper I like. One side is slightly fluffy whilst the other is smooth as glass and takes the ink beautifully. Ideally I would like to print on the Mingeishi Grey paper I used towards the beginning of the course but it isn’t available anywhere within my area. Mail order seems a little over the top when we have other smooth surface papers to hand. However, if I get the chance I’d like to get some more of the Mingeishi. The Kozo is a similar weight to it and gives me a very different product to work with compared to the Arches 88. It also has more colour and is a beige/yellowish white.
The manual states that we should use a minimum of three colours and black. I’ve decided to stray slightly from this but as I’m going to produce two colour schemes I should still fulfill the brief. Both sets of samples are underway.
Layer 1. 75% yellow + 25% extender. This will give me the appearance of solid coverage but with a light feel to the layer because of the small amount of translucent extender. I’m not after a heavy harsh yellow.
Layer 2. 25% ultramarine blue + 75% extender. This mix will create a very translucent blue which should ‘sink into’ the yellow below forming a soft mid/light green, if I don’t over apply it.
Layer 3. 50% ultramarine blue + 50% extender. As this is applied over the existing blue layer I want it to darken the green, turning it into a more teal blue/green if possible, but it should not be so dark and solid that is totally overloads the composition. It still needs to blend with the earlier colours and step up the tone incrementally. This is the stage I’m at now and am running colour trials.
Layer 4. 50% black + 50% extender. This may even be able to have the pigment reduced further. I’m looking for a good solid overlay but not a heavy application. I’ll have to see how intense the colour remains with very light layers and with different pigment strengths. I’ll start with some tests.
Layer 1. 75% yellow + 25% extender. The yellow has worked beautifully and the mix remains the same for this set of prints.
Layer 2. 25% napthol scarlet + 75% extender. This creates a lovely vibrant but soft light orange layer.
Layer 3. 25% quinacridone red + 75% extender. This deep blue-red is so strong I daren’t go any stronger with the mix or it will totally wipe out the effects of the previous layers. I’m at this stage and am anxious to see the results.
Layer 4. 50% sepia + 50% extender. This ratio may have to be adjusted with more pigment added as it might not give a solid coverage over the previous red. I’ve decided that a final black layer is simply too harsh for this colour scheme.
Above, samples of single layers which show well the effects of using extender to soften the print layer. My intention in this project, where colour choices are paramount, is to follow my emerging interest in the layering of different strengths and levels of translucency in my products and to explore the resulting colour outcomes. I find this idea much more stimulating and challenging than applying solid colour layers which essentially maintain their original hue. I am more and more drawn to the delight of semi-expected, but always surprising, merged effects.
Here it is easy to see the difference in colour results when using different paper. The top and bottom left are both on the off-white/beige Kozo paper. Because I’m using extender and creating less strength in my printed image the base paper colour affects the vibrancy of the inks, so I’m able to achieve some more muted prints. Of course on the brilliant white Arches 88 everything is super bright.
The top row middle image shows a very light covering of the translucent blue over the yellow and this has given a lovely rich lime as opposed to the heavier blue coverage of the image on the right where the green is more pronounced. Enjoying these works so far.
A new registration method for this project. The course manual suggests printing the first layer as normal then subsequent layers are registered by holding the cut & inked lino face down over the first print and carefully ‘dropping’ it in place matching the corners. Wow – harder than I thought. The lino and paper are then painstakingly picked up, avoiding any slippage, turned over and printed. Not at all straight forward using the flimsy Kozo paper which wants to buckle and slide into the depths of the lino cut areas.
I scaled up my lino to a pretty good size and that means it’s very hard to hold it above the paper and keep it flat. It bends, and it curves more because it is large and I have to apply a certain pressure to the edges so I don’t drop it. Interesting, a challenge, but I can see the sense of it with smaller pieces than I’m using. However I’ll persevere with this method for this project but I’ll be reverting back to proper registration boards and place markers in future I’m sure. First attempt was, naturally, dropped in the wrong place so, as the print was already wasted, I repositioned.
I’ve got the hang of it a bit better now and holding my breath helps!! Most of the prints are 95%-98% registered correctly and I’m wondering if lino can stretch as you cut more out of it? I very carefully match up my corners and, once printed, one end seems fine whilst the other slightly over-reaches. Can the hessian backing give a little when large areas of lino are cut back to a much thinner layer? My sense is that this is a possibility. Let’s see what the next layer brings.
I clean my roller and conduct my colour mixing trials on the back of failed prints or other scrap paper and I’m building up a nice resource of coloured bases to use as backgrounds for future projects.
The inks are expensive, why chuck the excess away? I’m always looking for little techniques to use them up.