I just don't know why this is. Maybe I felt like I had lost the thread with what I was doing, although that is not true. I have been working away in my studio all the while so it isn't that I have not been working.
I did 'lose the thread' at one or two points though however as regards making my artwork but these were just hiccups really - I managed to get going with things again once I just physically got on with doing printmaking activities or drawings. That's the way to bypass these things "energy follows action" and all that.
I was working on my book edition for most of last year .....well up until August September (2011) that is. I plan on uploading a description of the process of making the edition on my bookart blog at some point in the future. There is a link to that blog on the navigation bar under the heading of the blog.
One of the things I considered at the beginning when I knew I would be making the edition of artists books was a 'tri-fold' book. I have always liked the alter like tableaux that one sees when looking at medieval and early renaissance art in particular.
So I asked Bill at the workshop to help me cut some mill board into the shapes but with the folds too. These took a good few hours to do.
At that point I was researching lots of book formats and technical information regarding stitching and binding too.
Anyway that was how I came to have this shaped cardboard in my studio and how I ended up making it into a collagraph - this was done around August September time. I felt a sense of urgency as I started working with it desperately wanting to make larger work - all the book stuff had been around A4 size (20 x 30 cm) so I just wanted to break out of the frame as it were.
It was done on impulse and really, I ought to have known better but I guess I was rather 'taken' with the shape and I had developed some drawings of birds that were kind of lifting up a figure that was in a sort of cruciform gesture. The idea wasn't quite finalized but I knew I wanted to take this into the tri-arced shaped plate.
At the beginning I was creating the print with a specific exhibition in mind. I planned on making a submission to a project for a show in Poland. Although I had plenty of potential prints, the required 'format' for this show was that the print be 56 x 76 cm in size (as well as 2 other 'smaller' size prints).
It was an S.S.A project which had in a way been what had motivated me to join the Society of Scottish Artists. This being almost 2 years ago now.
The collagraph plate ended up with loads of set backs, many originating in my having chosen to use cardboard for the base which was not suitable and which was a mid brown colour. Of course this makes it difficult to 'read' the extent to which the plate has been inked/ wiped etc............ never mind anything else. I had paper cut outs for the figures on the plate, bits of textured wallpaper and torn card from the plate surface itself. Early on in the process I applied cut out shapes using drypoint card, I then scratched into it with a scalpel to subtly define the figures body / torso area and it gave a lovely effect. The first one or two proofs , were excellent, well especially in terms of giving the ghostly effect, that I had hoped for, this effect was one which was unique to that material.
I decided I needed to add some dark tone behind the central right and left figures and I thought if it was graduated - getting lighter as it rose to the top of the picture that it would look good. I scanned the proof into Photoshop and did a 'mock-up' to see how it would look (as you can see above)
Of course while I was doing the mock up I couldnt resist fiddling about with the visual elements and was considering locating some of them ouside the picture edge.
Getting back to making the collagraph plate....................... OK so I thought I needed to add some tone to the plate. I made up some Lascaux Pastel Ground, in three different strengths to apply to the plate.
I would add 1 part pastel ground to 2 parts water, or 2 parts pastel ground to 1 part water and so on an so on. It dries fairly quickly e.g., 20 minutes and then you can, if you want, take a proof although given all the fiddling about I had to do, with the graduating effect I was after - I had to take my time. I seem to remember that I used several natural sponges.
In terms of what the inspiration was behind this piece ................... well............. this is something that is never easy to explain.......I develop a ‘collection’ of images figurative as I go along. Mainly using photos of figures from books, newspapers, the web or sometimes taking photos myself. I then usually simplify them taking them down to the bare essentials. It’s often the bearing or the gesture of something that engages me and that for me expresses something in particular.
I then amend and hybridize them to communicate some particular emotional state or similar. Often I will then do drawings then trace monotypes then scan them back into the computer then re-scale and hybridize them and so on ..............If I analyse it too much then I would never do anything.
I have referenced a ‘crucifix type’ image previously in my work so that’s probably harks back to my Catholic upbringing. That certainly wasn't what I was aiming for with the piece - it was the birds lifting the fabric of the vestment of the figure - the idea of humans and creatures being tender to one another. Of these beings sometimes telling us something about ourselves.
Ugh !!.......... this proved to be a considerable effort and as I mentioned above working on a brown surface is not conducive to 'reading' the extent to which one has sufficiently inked up the plate nor wiped it............
It took 2 or 3 hours to wipe the plate and I am going more and more off this kind of thing - I must say.
At that same time I was also working on images that were 3.25 x 4 inches or 8 x 10 cm in size - these were to submit to the British miniprint competition by the way which were due Sep 21st 2011.
But more of that in another post.