Project 13 – Elephant prints

My next set of combination monoprint and lino prints were based on a sketch from my India trip of an elephant at the Amber Fort.



I worked in the same way as suggested in the linocut project by planning my cutting on a piece of black paper with white Inktense pencil and white Neocolor II pastels. I thought that the motif would be stronger if the seating and man on top were omitted. The borders were patterned taking inspiration from the designed painted on the elephants themselves. I then traced and transferred the image in reverse to the lino for cutting.

image image

In cutting the fabric drapes, I referred back to the sample blocks I had made in Assignment Two, and felt that hatching with a very fine v-tool gave the impression of a finely woven fabric. I used contour lines to give the fabric shape over the elephants back. I am really please with this design, and has the feeling of an Indian block-printed bedspread, with the animal motif in the centre and a decorative border. The small circles were inspired by embroidered panels, where shisha mirrors are used. I have noticed in the panels, that the placement of the shisha work around a very regimented design, even if they are not evenly placed, such as the difference between the top and bottom corners here. I also think that the freehand loose cuts of the border design work better than if it were all geometrically exact.



In planning the final combination print, I kept the idea of Indian block-printed bedspreads in mind. They often have a solid colour background edge, with a cracked mud resist or batik resist drops in the centre. I thought about having a contrast between the border and the centre background, as well as selectively masking different areas of the image. I printed many sketch-quality versions of this in Acrylic system 3 on to heavy cartridge paper, and painted various monoprint ideas over them with acrylic inks. I also cut a series of stencils for masking different areas of the image.


For the palette, I took inspiration from a page in my India sketchbook, where I recorded a number of colours from bourgonvillea cuttings. I had originally thought about printing the fabric over the elephant in a different colour, but found the results detracted from the markmaking and the eye was drawn to this area only, rather than the pattern on the trunk followed by the border as I had planned. I found that keeping it simple and using two colours only worked best. Violet and red together was unsuccessful as each colour completely deadened the other leading to a flat image. Orange-yellow with either violet or crimson worked best, and conveyed the carnival feel of the painted elephants in life. I felt that the sample on the left in the picture above worked well, in reference to the sponged areas contrasting with a solid outer plain border.

For the final print, I opted for crimson with the orange-yellow and tried a number of different techniques. I tried using hole-punch waste paper discs as masks to mimic batik wax resist, but they left slight indentations on the paper. This resulted in the lino print having ghost circles in it, giving the unfortunate effect of a hole-riddled animal! Registration was tricky as it had to be exact, and it was difficult not to leave tentative marks and slight double marks at the edge where the block was initially applied. These were the two most successful prints.The first is a ghost print, taken after the border was masked on a previous print, with a central mask applied for the elephant.


In this print, the central area was drawn into with a cocktail stick in random scribbles, in an attempt to mimic the sharp lines of cracked mud resist dyeing.



The problem with both of these is that the monoprinting does not really add anything to the monoprint on it’s own. Conversely, I think the strong contrasts in the original print have more impact. The design is good, but I have not left enough work for the monoprint to do, with all of the detailing already in the linocut.



One comment on “Project 13 – Elephant prints

  1. starrybird says:

    I think the texture of the final monoprint really does add to the image.

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