Print 1. Project 12: The printed collagraph

P12-Col-9Theme 1: Warm colour scheme

Using my previous colour trials as a start point I chose scarlet red, sepia and chrome yellow, along with neutral grey, as my colour palette.  The yellow is an oil paint rather than an ink and was thickened with magnesium carbonate before using.

P12-Col-10Shown right are my basic colour mixes but these were later split with more or less of each pigment, or combination, added to each to bring in additional variation.  A very tiny touch of ultramarine blue was later added to the grey.

Top image: 1/11 Stonehenge paper, wet.  Great colour mixing on the red/grey wallpaper.
Bottom image: 2/11 Kozo extra heavy, dry. With a dry rag I removed part of the ink from around the vase and bowl on the sideboard.  Looks rubbish.  Both prints were pulled twice with the wallpaper masked the first time and then printed alone the second time.  The better overall coverage is on the first print, although both are a bit uneven.

P12-Col-12Top image: 3/11 Somerset, wet. Paper is too textured to get a good transfer as I didn’t soak it long enough to make it sufficiently pliable.  Hence the poor sideboard result.  However I allowed a little transfer from the print plate background to come through along the base of the cupboard to give it a little grounding.  Completely slipped when pulling the second print, the wallpaper, and (as it was ruined) repositioned to see how it would look.  The carpet came out well.
Bottom image: 4/11 Hahnemuhle, wet. Fairly good coverage throughout, very even.  Bringing in more of the background from the plate instead of cleaning the ink off before printing.

At this point I was a little uninspired.  The prints seem a bit static, uninteresting, just generally very average.  My feel for the subject matter isn’t coming through.  The print plate itself is far more interesting.  I cleaned the plate and re-thought my approach.

I took a big dabber and chose mono-colour to start ….

Top image: 5/11 Arches 250gsm, wet.  Much too blotchy.  Need to dab more evenly, if that’s possible over a large area.  Love the idea even though the execution is terrible.
Bottom image: 6/11 Lightweight elephant dung paper, damp.  Better coverage and more evenly spread.  The paper had a fibrous lump in the mirror area which came off, taking the ink with it.  Same on the cupboard front.  Shame, just as I’m getting the hang of this – but I’m happy with the progress and it’s less patchy than my first attempt.

Top image: 7/11 Kozo paper, dry.  I still have a mirror mark from the previous print unfortunately but I enjoy the added colour choice here.
Bottom image: 8/11 Heavyweight Elephant dung paper, wet.  I’m very satisfied with this print result.  The main design is well-defined, the background is rough and sits well behind the furniture and the colour scheme has given me the effect I was aiming for – more of an enclosed space, a small room.
The above 2 images were produced solely using dabbers and a little paintbrush work to get into some areas.  It’s very hard to get the coverage even with a dabber as opposed to a roller but using rollers wasn’t an option – too many fiddly areas (and this is my simplified image!!)

Theme 2: Cool colour scheme

P12-Col-15The base for this series is grey, quinacridone red and ultramarine blue.  They were mixed to produce the colour palette shown.  The straight blue was combined with 80% extender to give a very light translucent effect.  The extender encourages the inks to dry very fast so some burnt plate oil was added to thin and retard the drying period.

Above: 9/11, 10/11 & 11/11. From top down: Somerset, gyoleuryru & Stonehenge.  Much more even work using the dabbers and these last 3 prints have come out quite well, showing even more defined colour placement than the previous samples (two colours in the background to indicate where floor and wall meets).

I’m very pleased with the banisters throughout this series as the components are slightly different heights so a tiny white definition appears between the uprights and the top & bottom railings.  It adds to the complexity of the image and defines that section well, just as the scored drawers do on the cupboard.  Wiping the mirror clean of ink has also brought much more life to the final prints.

I love the effects of the remaining ink on the print plate, after the last print has been pulled.

1950s print plateLook at that.  Just gorgeous.  I’m hoping it will dry out and I can keep it as is.  Perhaps my art will evolve into print plate inking as an art form instead of the printed image taken from it.

Lessons learned:

  • Dabbing evenly over a large area is very difficult.  It’s practically impossible to tell if you have applied the same amount of pressure and ink to the various sections of the plate (as can be seen above).
  • Avoid this type of fiddly print for this type of collagraph, or learn how to apply ink better because rolling isn’t an option.
  • Go with bigger, bolder imagery which can be rolled, with masked areas if required.
  • Even when using damp paper avoid any with a marked textural surface.  Use heavier weight smooth surface (Stonehenge for example) damp and lightweight Japanese papers dry.  I still like the slightly textured elephant dung paper.
  • This was long-winded and fiddly.  Honestly, Claire, you have to simplify.  I tell myself this during every exercise and also have it written on my work board – but it’s  just not me.
  • When something isn’t working, looks too static or uninspiring, just forget the agony of doing what you think OCA wants and do what appeals to you.  The results are usually better.

I have not used the rainbow rolling method as suggested in the course manual as it doesn’t fit with the imagery, and I have used it earlier in the course and hope to use it later.  However, I have incorporated dabbing, some minor rolling, paintbrush application and wiping away using cloth, paper and cotton buds.

I used a representational image as required for this project and have achieved some reasonable outcomes showcasing a varied approach.  I see a positive progression from where I started with this collagraph plate and where I finished, and once I started being less ‘precious’ and precise about what I thought I should be doing the prints evolved into much more interesting and unified pieces.

…….. However, my mind is harking back to the mushrooms and corrugated hoarding, where I started this particular journey.


About Claire B

I am a passionate printmaker, paper maker and book artist. I'm a 'forever' student and frequently attend courses and workshops to extend and improve my creative skills.
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3 Responses to Print 1. Project 12: The printed collagraph

  1. fibresofbeing says:

    For what it’s worth my favourite of the photographed images is number 5, which earned a yikes! All the individual elements are brought together to create a whole. Lively, but coherent. The heavier areas on the rug and lampbase provide an anchor, and the not-too-heavy transfer of the print plate background also helps stop parts floating away from each other.
    Second favourite is 10. Again the rug giving a solid base, and I like the transition from floor to wall – they combine to give a sense of depth while some other combinations are quite flat.
    I imagine they all look quite different in life.

    • Claire B says:

      Hi Judy. I was so disappointed in the photos because, you are right, the prints look so different in real life. So this morning I’ve scanned the lot and redone the pics so what’s on the site has got closer to the originals. At least the paper colours have come out better because I’m using quite a variety.
      This also caused me to revisit these prints and I feel better about them than when I posted this blog a few days ago. I was very down in the dumps that day and wasn’t in a positive frame of mind to properly critique the outcomes.

  2. Pingback: Design Play: Exercise 9 – Line studies | TactualTextiles

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