I have been taking lots of photos of trees on my Thursday and Friday dog walks, and have been fascinated by the amazing patterns in the bark, depending on the variety of the tree. I decided that I wanted to use some of these as inspiration to make my art from on Making Day and felt that I had plenty of original reference materials.
So, yesterday, having sourced a very long lead to get wifi from the house to the studio, I went online in the hangout with Angela (our lecturer), Mark in Thailand, Roshni in the Seychelles, Debjani in Oman, and Jane in England. We all chatted about what we planned to do over the course of the day, and agreed to meet back in the hangout at 12.30.
I had a quick scan of my photos, and chose one which I thought that I might get a lot of mileage from, in terms of patterns to draw or print from. I decided to concentrate on drawing the patterns which I could see in the bark onto A2 cartridge paper with a graphite pencil.
The more I looked, the more I saw, and had to choose carefully how much of the pattern I would put down onto the paper, as I could have potentially been drawing for days! I limited the drawing to line only, as I felt this would make the shapes and patterns clearer. After a few coffee breaks here and there, I had completed the first drawing, but felt completely drained with all of the concentration required to produce the piece. I felt that it had been a very worthwhile exercise though, as now I had a huge amount of shapes and patterns to develop more work from.
Having about another 40 minutes left before going back into the hangout, I decided that I would do more drawing, as having plenty of work to develop further is always reassuring, so next I chose a photo of a nook in a tree to work from.
I made this study slightly smaller, so that it could potentially be traced onto a piece of lino and carved if I felt the need. Again, I found a lot of interesting shapes and patterns, and started to think that this piece would look good made in wire, or perhaps as a piece which could have mobile elements within, which are able to spin or move around inside the larger shape.
Finally, I decided to do a quick study of some of my conker collection, so I laid them out onto a sheet of cartridge paper, and made some very simple line drawings, enjoying the different positions of the central circle shapes within each individual conker.
It was now nearing 12 noon, so I decided to photograph what I had done so that I could upload it into google drive. Unfortunately after many unsuccessful attempts, I gave up, and had to join the Hangout with nothing to show on screen, apart from the work that I held up to the web cam, but which was unfortunately not very clear at all. With promises to upload it later that afternoon, I left the hangout after half an hour of discussing what we all hoped to achieve that afternoon, and managed to sort out the Bluetooth issue and got my work into a presentation ready for later.
My next plan was to make a monoprint of my first drawing, and I started my fixing my drawing to the desk with masking tape, laying acetate over the drawing, and tracing over the drawing with paint (onto the acetate). I decided to keep my colour palette limited to white and off whites, as I really love the minimalism which a white palette can achieve. I chose a large, interesting shape within the drawing, and started to paint over it with Windsor and Newton Titanium White oil paint. After ensuring that the paint was thick enough, I placed the acetate over a piece of beige, fibrous, handmade paper and rubbed down over it with a baren to make the print.
The print was fine, and I also quite liked the acetate, so I decided to keep this instead of wiping it clean to reuse. I thought that perhaps it may be used for something, but I wasn’t quite sure what at that stage.
For the next print, I wanted to mix up a slightly different shade of white, so I added a very small amount of Ultramarine oil paint into the Titanium White, so that the second printed area could be distinguished from the first printed shape. I took a new piece of acetate, laid it over the drawing, and started to paint in a different area of the drawing with the blue- white mix. Again, I laid the same piece of beige fibrous paper down and placed this second piece of acetate over it carefully, to line up the print in the correct area. I rubbed down again with the baren, this time rubbing on both sides, ie through the paper, and through the acetate.
This time, when I lifted the acetate off, I was surprised buy the beautiful yet subtle impression that had been made, due to the fibres in the paper creating an extra unexpected pattern. It almost reminded me of frost on a window, and then I got the idea that it could be used like a window, so that the viewer could look through one acetate print to see another behind it. The only problem was that the acetate that I had used was far too bendy, having been store in a roll, so I had to think of how I could get around this problem. Luckily I had some stronger, thicker perspex plates in stock so I decided to try to reprint the thin acetate prints onto the perspex.
I decided to print the “frosty” print first, as it was the most recent and should still be wet. I rubbed really hard, but placed newsprint paper over the surface so that I didn’t scratch the perspex. The result was pretty good. I tried to print from the other acetate (the first print) but unfortunately the oil paint had dried up, so it didn’t work. The only option was to repaint the shape again and take another print, which would be time consuming, but worth it in the long run.
I did this, and realised that by this point time was running out, and it was about ten to four. I thought that only way that I could present and photograph these transparent prints was to hang them from the ceiling, one in front of the other, and perhaps I would need to shine light up at them, and this may also create shadows….
I threaded fishing wire through the holes, and got out four hooks, which I quickly screwed into the ceiling. I hung the “frosty”, more subtle print in front of the other more bold, larger shaped print, and quickly adjusted the fishing wire so that they were hanging at the same height.
Then I grabbed the anglepoise lamp, quickly pointed it up towards the prints, and took a few shots from different angles. I would have liked to play more with the light, and experiment with shadows etc, but I did not have time. I think this is something I will do at a later date, for my own satisfaction.
With just a few minutes to go, I Bluetoothed my photos to my Macbook, and uploaded them into the presentation I had started earlier, then uploaded it onto GDrive, sharing it with the other members of the group.
It was really interesting to see what everyone had made that day, and very inspirational too! Mark had also chosen to work with monoprinting as a technique, but more with a slant towards his photography. It was interesting that we had both used a similar process, but had ended up with very different results.
On reflection, I felt that the subject matter that I had chosen to work with was really substantial, and that there was a lot of scope to use it further within my art work. Yesterday I had only really scratched the surface of what I could do with it, and how I could use the beautiful natural patterns of the trees to create abstract pieces.
Also, thinking back to my tutorials with Caroline and Angela, we discussed the fact that i should try to combine my interest in 3D and installation with my printmaking. Perhaps this process of “deconstructing” a print, by taking shapes or colours which make up a print and printing them onto separate plates, then viewing them in a variety of ways in relation to each other might be a way of taking this forward…
Finally, I have to say that although I was kind of anxious about the Making Day, I actually really enjoyed it, and found that focussing on a set task within such a short given time frame was really useful and challenging. I was also rather pleased with my work that I had produced, although yet again serendipity did play quite a role in the outcome!