Project 10 – Experimental Print

So far in relief printmaking, we have concentrated on layered prints where separate layers are used for each colour of a single image. I have seen some prints on sale where a single print is made up of different layered images. Separation in blocks of subject rather than just colour. I was exploring this further whilst occupying our usual space in the back row at a music festival. I made this sketch with a fine pen of the crowd, and planned to use it to shape a sillouetted foreground in my print. My aim was to have a sillouetted strong foreground, a background of finer marks of the scene, and a final semi-transparent layer to unify the two previous layers.  I was quite pleased with the sketch. The only part that didn’t really work is the rucksack at the bottom right that I found difficult to describe.

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This was an initial development sketch in white ink on a watercolour ground, prussian blue caligo ink printed with Funky Foam, and rays of light printed with a thin strip of lino. It is a very quick and rather crude study, but was helpful in formulating my ideas.

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From here I made a final full size sketch that I would use as a cutting plan for my blocks. The top left area was going to be impressions of a hole punch tool in Funky Foam, but I later decided that I liked the rays of light extending out of the frame, without a stopper.

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As I skipped over talking about the colour decisions stage in my last project, I thought I would post a photo of my working process this time. I do small test prints with the palette knife, making notes on how I have arrived at a tone, and look at how the chosen colours work together in layers.

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I cut the first block in lino. The main stage and first row were cut with a v-tool for strong defined marks. The rays of light and rest of the crowd were drawn with a pyrography tool with various amounts of pressure. The light sources were finally printed with a shaped pyrography head.

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I felt that this works really well as an experimental print in it’s own right. There is an area of high contrast and sharp lines depicting the stage, and the thick cut line for the front row depicts the glare from the lights of the stage. The pyrography marks in the crowd get gradually lighter and larger towards the foreground. I like the slightly unpredictable line and this context reminded me of camera flashes going off. This photo was of a proof print, and I have since made some cleaner bolder prints from it.

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I chose to work with the Funky Foam despite the awful name as I wanted a really sharp clean print for the sillouette. I stuck the foam to backing from a clip frame, cut to the same size as the lino for registration purposes and because it is easier to print with a rigid block rather than a flexible one. The marks were added to the final layer with a single prong of a kitchen fork. I refined the cutting of the final block after an artists proof, and thinned the ink with more linseed oil so that more details from the initial print were visible.

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I feel that I achieved my objective as set out at the start in terms of unifying two design elements. I like the way that the ink behaves so that the initial print is still apprecible through the sillouette without detracting from it.

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