Printmaking – masks and stencils

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Part of the pleasure of printmaking is the reveal – after the plate with paper on top has passed through the press and you gently peel the paper back, what do you see? With a conventional plate, where a carefully considered image has been made on the plate you hope to see a clear rendition of what you have put down appearing as a mirror image of the plate. With works such as the ones I have been doing recently it is much more a mystery.

The four images above were made by rolling ink fairly randomly – there was some planning involved – onto an acrylic sheet, then strips and small rectangles of plasticised paper were laid across the plate to make a satisfying arrangement. Next, dampened pieces of printmaking paper smaller than the acrylic sheet were placed on the sheet and the whole lot was put through the press, thus making bleed prints, where the ink goes beyond the edge of the paper.

Some of the strips had been used before, so had ink on them which also transferred to the paper, as well as masking out the ink below – hence both stencils and masks. The pressure of the press and the dampness of the paper also caused some of the ink to squish out below the masking strips, creating areas of different depth of colour. The top left panel is a ghost print, that is, a print made by putting the plate through the press a second time without re-inking, so just a light residue is transferred to the paper.

All of these were then printed on the back, to make double-sided images, as shown below.

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Probably they will ultimately be turned into a book or 3D object, so some of both sides will be seen. That’s for a future post!

 

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Travel sketches from the dry west of NSW

In late September we packed up the camper trailer and headed towards the west of New South Wales, to camp on the banks of the Darling River, one of the great rivers of Australia. This year has been severely dry, and the vast majority of NSW was declared to be in ‘extreme drought’. The river was very low, mostly pools rather than a healthy flow. In summer you expect to see parched landscape but usually at this time of year, in spring, there is some green to be seen, but not this time. Even the big gum trees are pale, the colour sucked out of them. This also means there is little wildlife, the birds, kangaroos, even the big lizards seem to have gone searching for food elsewhere. The only animals we saw a lot of were goats, and even they were looking tired and thin. So searching for things to draw was not such an easy task. Plenty of bones, and some hardy plants and trees but little else. This sounds depressing, and in many ways it was, but the landscape is still magnificent and has an ancient power to it. We camped with friends, then met a group of people who have the same camper trailer as us, made some new friends and enjoyed the old ones! I’m doing this post on my phone, so quality control could be an issue, so forgive me for any oddities!