Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Once a monotype

"Never throw anything you create away, not matter how dismal it appears at the time." One of my first instructors drilled this advice into our heads. I didn't know what I would do with all my rejects in my reject drawers, I just kept saving. Now eight years later I'm so glad I blindly followed her advice. Your "rejects" are your learning experiences, they chart in a concrete way how you moved through your development just as much as those works you consider successful. They often mark a crossroads in your development, places where you branched off for awhile or took completely alternate paths. They provide opportunities for journal entries about your practice or they become the journal entries of the "what not to do's" or the ideas about new places to go.

Now that I work mostly in mixed media, I go to the reject drawer constantly and find precious bits of work that I collage directly or colour copy and create image transfers. I also take whole works and rework them in another medium.

Movement of Life, 8 x 10, mixed media

I showed this image before but didn't discuss how it came to be. I took several months to explore using plant matter to create monotypes. It's very simple. You cover your plate (plexiglas in my case) with a background colour (oil or oil inks) and then place leaves, grasses or petals onto the plate in a pleasing composition. Place your soaked and blotted watercolour paper on top of the plate and roll out with a roller or run through a printing press. My roller, made my a machinist friend, is 85 pounds and does a great job. I have been just as successful leaning into my wooden pastry roller to get good transfers. If I'm using plant material, the only change I made with the pastry roller is using thinner paper (rice paper or less than 140 lb. watercolour paper).

When I pull the print, where the plant material was, is white negative space. The fern leaf above was a failed monotype I created in 2004 using this process, that I cut in three pieces and collaged into this new composition. The next image began in the same way but had additions.

You can see the white areas where the leaves were. I then took the leaves (which had all the oil paint from the background) and laid them on top of the negative space to to create a hint of their presence.

Growth, 2007, 8 x 8, mixed media

The background of this mixed media work was a monotype I created by placing the inked images of the leaves from the previous experiment on top of the original plate (oil side up) and added a new light weight sheet of cold press watercolour paper . When rolled I got a hazy background from the original plate and nice crisp leaves because they still had lots of paint on them. To finish Growth (also referring to my growth as an artist) I reinforced sections with acrylic paint and applied fiberous papers to finish it off.

You might enjoy seeing this video by Mary Margaret Briggs who uses a similar process. I live the organic shapes and simplicity of her work. I found this artist this year when I was researching artists who use gardens as inspiration in their art work.

1 comment:

Gina said...

Love your series on monotypes, Margaret. Thanks for the video link, too. This makes me want to return to a gelatin printmaking session; I had good results using acrylic paints.