More masks and back drawing

My main aim following on from my previous work was to concentrate on achieving a clean even print, with good registration. Intellectually this appears a simple task, but I have learned to my frustration that it is actually really difficult! The image here was the best in terms of the above points, although I still struggled with getting clean shapes at the edges of the masks. The print is far more even than my early attempts, mainly as I have switched from using the wetter textile screen medium, for a more putty like block printing medium. The slight tackiness of the ink helps to stop the paper sliding about. I have reverted to an earlier mask design without the fanned wings, but still think it was a challenge using relatively small masks (each bird is approximately 8cm beak to tail). I am happy that I have mastered registration, and have been using a piece of paper under the glass to line up the printing paper with. I felt that my designs are working well in both their positive and negative forms.

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Whilst working on this project, I have been printing multiple prints and ghost prints simultaneously. I particularly liked this negative space print overlayed with a ghost print. I had reinforced the mask with cellotape, which accounts for the appearance on the bottom left of this print.

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I also made this A5 patchwork of prints, and used it as the inspiration for a larger print.

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New masks were drawn and cut on a larger scale than previously. I drew out a macquette on an A3 sheet for registration purposes, and placed it beneath the printing glass.

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The final print was made on heavy smooth watercolour paper with torn edges to an approximate A3. I marked and lined up the same corner each time for registration. This is made up of five seperate prints, both positive and negative shapes, and using the same positive mask in mirror orientations. I like the contrast between positive and negative accurate registration on the lower bird compared to the movement of the top. I have also paired layers of colour in the top right against a ready mixed similar colour in the bottom left. The areas of overlap and white are also interesting in terms of shapes and composition.  If I did this again, I think I would try to give each of the three positions of the top bird more even prominence, rather than the central position being quite so dominant.

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Next I moved onto back drawing, and combined it with my masks as below. The print was produced by backdrawing at the ghost printing stage, after printing with a positive mask and removing the mask from the plate. I wanted to add texture with my marks, and feel this worked well. The only annoyance was my slight misjudgement of the position of the birds, causing me to draw across one of the bird heads. Again, the drier block printing medium with acrylic is working better than my previous attempts, and the drawn marks are cleaner. I was also finding with the wetter medium that the drawn lines were pushing the ink out of the way, drawing a discharge line rather than an inked one.

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This print was made in two stages. The first print was a ghost print with back drawn details in red. The yellow was added afterwards, and I laid the dry mask gently on the reverse to guide my drawing. I feel that these details are really bringing the design to life, but without being too fussy.

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I finished up by drawing from life in two stages. I used a coloured pencil on the reverse to give me a better idea of how the image was looking. This was much easier in terms of planning and layering colours as there are not the same issues with registration. I thought about adding another layer to add shadows, but didn’t want to ruin it. I was aware that however lightly the paper is laid on the plate, there remains a minor amount of colour transferred to the undrawn areas. I felt that by adding too many layers, there was a risk of the background becoming muddy.

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One comment on “More masks and back drawing

  1. Jennifer says:

    I do think these are all really successful. There’s some wonderful colour work (something I struggle with).

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