impressions of Venice …

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I’ve been busy creating and printing a few more collagraphs this week, in preparation for my forthcoming solo exhibition ‘Beyond the Surface’ in King’s Lynn, Norfolk. Most of the new ones are small and I’ve used a variety of ink colours (Hawthorn Inks).

The plan is to sell the collagraph prints at the show, (which will be a variety of abstracted mixed media paintings), simply wrapped at a reasonable price, so there will be something to suit all pockets.

The recent small collagraphs here were influenced by the crumbling facades of buildings I came across in Venice earlier this year. I used scraps of wallpaper, sandpaper, string, muslin and a lovely piece of narrow lace ribbon I picked up at a recent vintage fair, which seems to lend itself well to the suggestion of fine architectural decoration. It also adds to the fun of browsing vintage fairs and the like, looking for textured materials to use.

By the way, I’m sure I’m not the only one to find the used, cleaned plate as interesting in its own right?

Untitled Collagraph, Mari French 2013

Untitled Collagraph, Mari French 2013

Untitled Collagraph, Mari French 2013

Untitled Collagraph, Mari French 2013

Collagraph plate

Collagraph plate, Mari French

 

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The printmaking corner of my studio

pressing on …

I finally started using my own tabletop press yesterday in my studio, to produce the first of what I hope will be a series of collagraph prints. As regular readers will know I recently attended one of Laurie Rudling’s excellent workshops, so it was good to be able to put the experience into practice.

My aim is to sell the successful prints at my exhibitions, starting with ‘Beyond the Surface’ in King’s Lynn in September, giving visitors who like my work the opportunity to purchase an original piece at a price most people can afford.

Inking up

In the inking up photo above, you can see I’d been trying out a burnt sienna ink, but didn’t like the results (see bottom photo).

Below is the preferred result, a diptych abstract plate inked up in cerulean blue with a raw umber ‘rub’ over it. The wide angle camera lens unfortunately gives it a wonky look! The original print is actually quite square. 

Untitled collagraph, Mari French 2013

Untitled collagraph, Mari French 2013


Something I think many people (including many artists) are unaware of, is that the inked up collagraph plate usually gives only one print, plus perhaps a ‘ghost print’ – a second print usually quite a bit fainter than the first, but often of interest in itself. This means that each collagraph print has a unique quality; it may be from the same plate but each is different due to the individual inking process involved.

collagraph plate inked in Burnt Sienna

collagraph plate inked in Burnt Sienna

 

grit & glue … collagraphs & carborundum

Moonlit lochs © Mari French 2013. Collagraph & carborundum print.

Moonlit lochs, collagraph & carborundum print. © Mari French

I recently attended another two day printmaking workshop, this time on Collagraph and carborundum, with tutor/master printmaker Laurie Rudling. The venue was at Cley on the north Norfolk coast, and was part of the Cley 2013 art festival.

This was the second of Laurie’s printmaking courses I’ve attended, the first being two years ago (see previous post). I needed a refresher because by the time I got a press and a studio to use it in I had lost all confidence in using it on my own (more the technicalities of the press rather than the actual printmaking … stupid, I know).

Basically collagraphs are prints made from collaged ‘plates’ – usually just thick card, layered with many different everyday materials eg. wallpaper, plants, cloth, tissue, string, ad infinitum, glued to the base. The plates are then sealed with several coats of varnish and inked up for printing. The addition of carborundum (a type of grit) enables large areas of denser colour (see the mountain area in the larger print above).

Although some prints, such as linocuts, woodcuts etc, can be obtained by hand pressure to a certain extent, collagraph prints do really require a press due to the complexity of the image and need to force the paper into the gaps between the collaged materials.

The small prints below were created by painting with PVA glue on sandpaper block, as simple as that and yet it is possible to achieve a range of interesting effects. I particularly like the sea area in this one. Overturning the usual notions of colour use in the second inking up gave an interesting result, almost an Arctic night image.

Sandpaper & glue print © Mari French 2013

Sandpaper & glue print © Mari French 2013

Sandpaper & glue print © Mari French 2013

Sandpaper & glue print © Mari French 2013

Anyway, I aim to get my press up and running this week, it would be great to have some prints to put in my solo show at Greyfriars Art Space in King’s Lynn in September alongside my acrylic/mixed media works.

For more detailed information and inspirational images on Collagraph printmaking one of the best books on the subject has to be ‘Collagraphs and mixed media printmaking’ by Brenda Hartill and Richard Clarke.