Recently I spent a day photographing trees and plants in the botanic gardens. I’m contributing to an exhibition to be hosted in the gardens in June and wanted to get a feel for the area. Although I’ve spent many years attracted to the textures, colours and patterns of different terrain, on this occasion I looked at the same aspects but in relation to plants and trees.
My start point for this trial collagraph was this photo:
The base of the plate is made from mountboard. An open-weave scrim was cut and torn to create an uneven surface and was stuck to the board. Modelling paste was applied to create the impression of the rings. Using a scalpel I carefully cut away areas from the board to create the plant fronds in the background.
An initial print proof was taken, with only the tree itself being inked up.
At this point I was just trialling the colours I would use to bring the tree to life and I was interested in the blank embossing effects from the fronds.
Above Left: not enough ink but great surrounding embossing. Middle: ink coverage better but a bit spotty. Right: good coverage with the darker areas towards the edging of the tree giving it a sense of depth and ’roundness’.
Even though I’d pressed the fronds they really weren’t flat, so I inked up some acetate, laid the plant material on and ran it through the press with some spare paper. A great way of getting ink smoothly onto the surface of things like this, and you can sometimes get an interesting print from the ‘waste’ acetate plate.
The grasses were then ready to be laid over the original print plate and printed in one hit.
Above is the waste print made from the above process. OK, not an artwork but then I was only trying to get ink evenly on the grasses. Great colour though! I looked at the remaining ink on the acetate and liked what I saw. so I took prints of that as well.