Thursday 17 March 2011

I tried to 'relate' to a paper Robot but it was an awful struggle !!

Well what I mean is ......... the participating artists, which included me, were all sent a package by M.U.B.E..  This is  the Museum  of Sculpture in Sao Paulo,  Brazil, where I have previously exhibited.

The idea or should I say 'brief' for this project  was that we would somehow 'transform' it by means of our own interventions with ideas / art materials and so on,  and so forth.

When it arrived in the post and I looked at it I remember tossing it aside and thinking oh my gawd I can't work with that horror !!
I considered not bothering to do it at all as I had so many things on my plate ( for a change!!) but then thought no - I have made a professional commitment and I should at the very least have a go at it.  If I then find that I really can't find a way to work with it - then I will withdraw.

Eventually managed to find instructions online and my clever friend Tatiana, who dropped round with her 5 year old son ( who loves all robot related matter)  put it together for me in no time.
So there it stood on my work surface  as a 3d cardboard robot and unfortunately I just didn't like the thing.  I imagine if I had - I might have given it a name.  So for now  it was just the "thing".

Eventually I decided that I could only work with it very much on my own terms as in I would take it apart lay it flat and then see if I could somehow make it into a collagraph plate of sorts.  The image above shows my initial  experiments with the lay-out of the pieces.   I thought  it  had the look of  South American iconography and textile designs so I started looking into that.  I came across some nice bits and pieces during the course of this research.

As I was doing this in a hurry I didn't take too much note of the sources and information regarding the little creatures that caught my eye.  Often they were just small details in a rug or a featured image on a piece of ceramic.  Made me remember a little figure I had used in my paintings when I was doing my bachelors degree and how I had found that quite liberating.  I had seen it on a billboard  poster, during the course of my long bus journey in North London up to the campus.  How wonderful it would have been to have access to the internet, at the time,  instead of 'lugging' huge piles of usually large heavy art books around in my shoulder bag which of course didn't do my back any good.

So I settled on a layout of sorts and stuck the pieces down onto some mill board.  I varnished it, back and front, and then proofed it but realized much to my annoyance (with myself) that of course the pieces were too raised up from the base plate.    It was a big plate and had taken me quite a while,  to ink up - so I thought "oh what the heck  - it's a unique piece of work I can just keep working on it 'as is' ".

Loved this little image with the jaguar warrior suit,  I came across too.    I seem to remember that these were the items that were placed in the burial site with the Aztec warriors and Lords.  A bit similar to the way the Ancient Egyptians "packed for the journey".     Mind you the Chinese did it in even more of a 'big way' as in,  when you consider the guy who had the Terracotta army created to accompany him to the afterlife - to ensure nobody tried to push him around.   Talk about being paranoid .......or maybe just O.T.T.

So that's what I did - I collaged it a little and also worked onto it using my trusty Carbothello pastel pencils (water soluble).  I got there in the end using five of the pieces from the pack.  I specifically wanted it to be a 'fold-out' print too so that it was like some map or thing that would be put into a pocket.  Hence the folds.


Museu Brasileiro da Escultura   M.U.B.E.

Betty Esperanza's short Video made as part of making her  Troyart piece.

There were about 300 pieces in total in this exhibition and I just could not select  just one or two
pieces to include in this post - best to have a look at the project blog.

Troyart Blog

Wednesday 9 March 2011

Gelatin monoprint with drypoint + Engraving on Foiled Card

Made this fairly recently- first the gelatin monoprint which I still have not really got to grips with.  I used the recipe as given by Linda Germain and had trouble getting the gelatin plate out of the flat container.  After about 3 attempts I finally got hold of a pink plastic tray from my good friend Tatiana and that worked.

The other problem I had, was with getting the water based speedball inks,  to roll onto the surface of the gelatin -  it just would not cooperate.
I then sent off for a rubber brayer - unfortunately I could only afford a small speedball one.  I have not tried it out yet as I have been otherwise engaged with making a whole heap of 'background plates'.  

These are on steel - that's after trying to do some aquatint sprays and etches on aluminium but they just didn't really 'take' and I got a horrible  straight line (with a blurred edge)  of unwanted tone ( a characteristic of the aluminium grain itself - I think)  so I have decided that, that's a wrap, at least where those plates  are concerned.  These were 'large-ish' plates by the way............. well 50 x 50 cm.  I tend to think that alumium is fine for medium to small size  plates but NOT good for large plates especially where the desired  areas of tonal etch are not interlinked.

Getting back to the gelatin monoprints.  Those that I did manage to do which were very much trials, were using water-colour paint and water based 'Caran D'ache' crayons.  I was working on a surface the size of approximately 30 x 45 cm so it was taking me a while to 'splodge up' enough colour from the little water colour pans and that was when I decided to refer back to Linda Germain's blog to look again at the materials she uses.  Speedball water based printing inks - so I ordered those.

The figure on the left was made using old "printers plates" originally used for commercial  lithographic printing.     I have had these plates for years  - I used to have those for when I taught monoprint classes but I  can no longer do these , because of my disability.

So as they are quite thin and lightweight (they are aluminium) I am easily able to cut them up, just using  a pair of scissors.  I had to paint this one with a couple of coats of acrylic hard ground (Lascaux) and then I scribed into it , which gave me the 'ink holding' lines.

It is very feint - this proof -  but I like how this integrates with the watery background.

The goat like figure on the right is made by scribing into 'foil-card'  such as you get with certain items of food packaging .  I can not remember which item of food it was - anyway it worked and what was good was that it didn't need varnishing.  It's a bit fragile though so it  had to be carefully cleaned by pouring veg oil onto a soft cloth and then quickly rubbing away the remaining etching ink. As opposed to drizzling oil onto it and then rubbing that with a cloth.  I have learned from experience that when cleaning collagraph plates which are on cardboard that its best to put a small amount of oil onto a soft cloth and then  quickly wipe away the remaining ink as if I am too generous with the oil it might seep into the lines in the print plate and basically ruin the plate for further use.  I did varnish the back of the plate for  protection easy cleaning and to add to its rigidity.