Creating a design
The aim is to produce a coherent representational collagraphic image using some of the techniques learned in project 11. I’ve spent the last 2 weeks considering my subject matter and design.
My start point came from the work I produced in the recent Jet James collagraphs workshop I attended and wrote about here. I was particularly pleased with the prints I made because, being on a time limit in a class situation, there was little opportunity to ponder over precise designs and outcomes. Everything moved at a good pace, print plates were made – be they well-designed or not – and we printed and experimented without any angst about what we hoped to achieve. It was a class, so who really worried about the ‘perfect’ quality of the outcome? We were learning, after all.
As is slowly becoming evident, I lean towards stylization, 1950s fabric designs, (mostly) flat imagery and recognisable but somewhat altered ‘realism’. In the workshop I produced a good simplified image of stylised flowers in a vase/jug huddled amongst other vessels. The design emerged quickly, without undue thought and planning, and is one of the more successful spontaneous pieces I’ve worked on and I’ve been wanting to develop it further.
Sketchbook page left: I started with the original sketch I made for the workshop and continued working on the flower head, exploring different positions and formats. The ‘mesh’ look was then removed from the flowers and used to form a background, perhaps the suggestion of wallpaper, and the flower heads were repositioned as drooping.
Sketchbook page right: Having removed the mesh from the flowers I played with ways to enhance them. Having drawn the top 3 images it quickly struck me that they resembled other things……
Ignoring the stem protruding from the top of each image – Left: a strapless evening gown with a wide skirt gathered tightly into the waist. Middle: a clutch bag. Right: a retro lampshade.
I listed everything of a similar shape: cups, bowls, up & down lights, mushrooms, cut fruit, pestle & mortar, funnel, satellite dish, ladle, hats & caps, baskets & bags, mosque domes. Things got a bit wacky: false nail tips, rugby ball (almost), scythe, moon, jewellery stones, flying saucer, 1/2 a burger (top half of course!).
Mushrooms struck a chord. Not bad drawing (above sketchbook page) but not simplified enough. I created a composition with mushrooms as the focal imagery, large and simplified.
Taking inspiration from Grace Bentley-Scheck I placed the mushrooms by some corrugated iron hoarding, as I’d like to try to replicate the corrugated effects she achieved. Having looked at this for a day or two I came to the conclusion that it would work wonderfully as a linocut print but doesn’t grab me as a collagraph.
Whilst considering mushrooms I also had lampshades niggling in my mind – primarily 1950s retro floor lamps in a setting. That brought me back to this newspaper cutting from project 7. A fairly straight forward design with some finer line work to pull it together.
I started drawing lampshades on the train the following day. The good thing about my weekly train drawing is that you can agonise and rub out as many times as you like but images are always going to be wobbly so just get over it and move on.
I realised that with both the flower development and the mushroom ideas I had spent a lot of time thinking, planning, researching, drawing, wondering, etc. which is always my downfall. Too much pre-planning not enough spontaneity. So I gave myself the 40 minute train trip to draw some basic lampshade ideas and put one into a composition and that would be the end of it – that will be the base of my print design. No more planning, chopping and changing
So here it is. A simple living room layout with enough bones to build on and with the option to add components and make minor alterations.
Once the image was enlarged it became obvious that more could be added to the design. A hint of wallpaper, some floorboards or other flooring perhaps. I researched 1950s wallpaper designs and then started making my own using some of my embossing plates. Each plate was trialled as a positive and then negative image.
Some of the embossing folder pattern sizes are too large-scale and overpower the composition but I’ve found something I think will work and fits with the era.