A Solo Exhibition – Woo Hoo!

Exhibition, Uncategorized

Sometimes everything comes together to create an opportunity you just cannot pass up. That’s how come I am having a solo exhibition next week….

A friend noticed a Facebook post by The Basement Gallery asking for emerging artists who might be interested in holding an exhibition in their new premises (241 Hay Street, Subiaco) to attend an open viewing time. We both went along to find out more on behalf of a newly formed group that may be interested in exhibiting together – possibly next year. The gallery and associated Pop Creative graphics design are run by volunteers (mostly uni students) to gain work experience in the arts. During our discussions with the volunteer gallery curator we learned that there was a vacancy in November. We knew the group would not be ready by then (we haven’t even had our first meeting yet!) and I realised I already had enough work with a reef theme to fill the space. I have lots of pen and ink drawings, some collages and several textile pieces – all inspired by coral reefs and their inhabitants. I submitted the application and paid the hire fee so I will be exhibiting Mon 13 Nov to Fri 17 Nov and Mon 20 Nov to Fri 24 Nov (open weekdays only 10-4, closed weekends).

This is the invite to my first solo exhibition “Reef – A Fine Line

The invitation to my solo exhibition "Reef - A Fine Line" at the Basement Gallery, 241 Hay St, Subiaco, Western Australia.

The invitation to my solo exhibition “Reef – A Fine Line” at the Basement Gallery, 241 Hay St, Subiaco, Western Australia.

Collagraphs

Artwork by Liz, Artwork Experiments, Uncategorized
Nine small collagraphs to experiment with texture by Liz Arnold, September 2015

Nine small collagraphs to experiment with texture by Liz Arnold, September 2015

The Collagraphs

Amongst other things, I made 9 small collagraphs (printing plates) (4.5 x 3 inches) over a period of a few weeks (quite a bit of drying time for various layers). They were experiments to create texture and to see how much depth variation gives a good print when using the press. The answer is “not much”. The plate at top right has circles punched from an old dilapidated paperback and crocheted cotton thread. The circles printed well but the crocheted cotton thread was probably a smidgen too thick as it trapped a lot of ink. I used (hogged?) the press at PAWA during the last Saturday Skill Sharing Session and the other members were really helpful in showing me how to set the press up, and how I should leave it when I’ve finished printing.

The Prints from the Collagraphs

Nine small collagraph prints (4.5 x 3 inches) by Liz Arnold. The lower middle print with the splodge was the first print - too much pressure on the press. September 2015.

Nine small collagraph prints (4.5 x 3 inches) by Liz Arnold. The lower middle print with the splodge was the first print – too much pressure on the press. September 2015.

The second photo shows the prints from those 9 plates. The very first print I did was the one with a big splodge! 🙁 I had too much pressure on the press – and possibly too much ink on the plate as well. The pressure was reduced for the remainder of the prints and I like how those came out.

Top row: 1/ cotton yarn, thin card and sand, 2/ watercolour paper strips, 3/ book page circles, the top of a bread mix bag, thin card strips. Second row: 1/ thin card and carborundum, 2/ eggshell (I put all sharp edges pointing down ie outside surface of egg up, and after I glued this the first time I rolled over it with a rolling pin and then applied another 2 layers of glue so there were no sharp bits sticking up), 3/ scrunched tissue paper. Third row: 1/ the top of a bread mix bag and thin card strips, 2/ crochet cotton, paperback page punches, 210gsm card rings, and thinner card strips, 3/ watercolour paper strips.

When I did these prints the plates had all had 8 coats of spray varnish. When I cleaned them they went a bit soft so I put them in the sun to dry for a couple of days to make sure I wasn’t trapping moisture inside and have since given them another 8 coats. Spray varnish doesn’t obscure detail but I don’t like the smell/effects on me even though I’ve been using a mask and spraying outside (staying downwind). I’m going to try brush on varnish which I was avoiding as I thought brush marks might give an unwanted texture. It’s probably just a question of getting the “knack”.

Learning to use Edinburgh Etch with Shana James

Artwork by Liz, Artwork Experiments, Uncategorized

About the etching class

For 3 Sundays in a row Shana James gave a beginners etching class hosted by PAWA (Printmakers Association of WA). We etched the copper plates with Edinburgh Etch solution.

This was my first copper plate etching - made by using hard ground and the Edinburgh Etch solution.

This was my first etched copper plate – made by using hard ground and the Edinburgh Etch solution.

As I am very much a novice print maker I learned a great deal at this class. I had been keen to learn this print method for 2 reasons. The first is that my drawings are very detailed, with very fine lines, and I wanted to reproduce that fine detail. I knew that etching would achieve that. The second is that I had read that Edinburgh Etch was a less toxic method that could be done at home.

My previous foray into etching used more hazardous chemicals and required a fume cupboard – I only did it once and decided that was not for me.

Preparing the etching plates

For the first lesson we prepared the plates – bevelled the edges, polished the surface, poured on the hard ground, waited for that to dry, and protected the back and edges. Then we drew into the hard ground, and placed the plate in the Edinburgh Etch solution for 45 minutes. Then the tape and hard ground were removed to reveal the bitten image.

This was my first print from my first etching plate prepared using Edinburgh Etch.

This was my first print from my first etching plate prepared using Edinburgh Etch.

Printing from the etched plates

The printing took place during the second lesson and I was very pleased with the result. Some of the other people in the class had a go at adding aquatint but I decided to keep it simple this time around. During this lesson we also prepared another plate so that we could draw into it at home ready for printing during lesson 3.

These lessons were aimed at beginners so we only used one colour. Shana talked about using more than one colour and registration, but what we did was quite enough for me to take in at this early stage. I also asked a lot of questions about the type of paper that is suitable for printing etchings. I need to do some homework on this to find out which papers I like best.

I know now that this method suits my style of work and will be practical for my home studio situation. I will be able to do the actual printing at the PAWA premises where they have a press for the use of members.

This is the first print from my second etching plate.

This is the first print from my second etching plate.

This is my second etched plate from the etching class with Shana James where we used Edinburgh Etch solution. July 2015.

This is my second etched plate from the etching class with Shana James where we used Edinburgh Etch solution. July 2015.

I left feeling inspired and with an extra plate to have another go at home. I’ve bought most of the things required – just a couple of bits and pieces left to find. I’ve read 5 library books about printing since the class and am part way through another!

 

Collagraph Plate experiment – loom bands

Artwork by Liz, Artwork Experiments, Uncategorized

How I made the collagraph plate

To make the collagraph plate I sealed a piece of thick card with Atelier Regular Gloss Gel and used the gel to adhere some loom bands. A big tub of loom bands were bought for $1 in a reject shop (obviously not the “in thing” to do anymore). The bands were adhered to the card with the idea of using it to remove paint from the Gelli® plate and also as a collagraph plate in it’s own right.

Collagraph plate problems

Collagraph plate made from loom bands glued to thick card using Gel Medium. When I used Matisse Block Printing Ink the stickiness of the ink was strong enough to pull the bands off of the board. But there is an interesting texture left in the medium ?

Collagraph plate made from loom bands glued to thick card using Gel Medium. When I used Matisse Block Printing Ink the stickiness of the ink was strong enough to pull the bands off of the board. But there is an interesting texture left in the medium ?

The top half of the photo shows the state of the plate after only a few prints. The lower half shows (l to r) a previously printed sheet overprinted from the cardboard plate, a ghost print from the Gelli® plate, a print from the cardboard plate, a print from the Gelli® plate.

I had applied 3 coats of gel to adhere the bands. This time I decided to experiment with the Matisse Block Printing inks after the disaster with the Shellac/acrylic paint/open medium disaster. The block printing inks are much stickier than the paint mixture. So sticky in fact that they started to pull the loom bands off the gel medium! So this too has turned into a mini-disaster. It’s just not my week 🙁 I will try other glues to stick the loom bands down as I really like the effect of these slightly “off” circles. The block printing inks didn’t really cover very well on the Gelli® plate either so I got lines/patchiness and sometimes the roller picked the ink up again as I rolled. So I probably need to use some other base for mono-printing with the printing inks. The bands that have come off have left an imprint in the gel medium so maybe all is not lost – maybe I can take all the bands off and use the texture of the gel medium as a printing plate. I managed a few prints before the loom bands all started looking a bit loose.

Collagraph Plate experiments – shellac disaster

Artwork by Liz, Artwork Experiments, Uncategorized

I used the woven card collagraph plate sealed with shellac to print using Jo Sonja and Atelier artists acrylics mixed with Derivan Matisse Open Medium to extend the drying time of the paints.

Problems with cleaning the collagraph plate

A detail of the print from the Gelli® plate where the woven card coated with Shellac was used to remove paint. You can see the woven texture.

A detail of the print from the Gelli® plate where the woven card coated with Shellac was used to remove paint. You can see the woven texture.

It was ok until I came to clean the plate – at which point it became a disaster. I managed 5 prints. I did notice that the plate had become sticky after the second print but I thought that was the paint. Then I noticed that the smell had changed – not for the better. After 5 prints I decided to clean the plate. I submerged it in water and wiped with a cloth. The paint didn’t move so I scrubbed with a nailbrush. The paint and shellac all came off where the paint was in contact with the shellac – so the card absorbed quite a bit of water.

The shellac coating came off when washing (submerged in cool water and scrubbed). The shellac came off where there was paint. I think the Matisse open medium acted as a solvent for the shellac. It didn't come off where there was no paint.

The shellac coating came off when washing (submerged in cool water and scrubbed). The shellac came off where there was paint. I think the Matisse open medium acted as a solvent for the shellac. It didn’t come off where there was no paint.

Where there was shellac only (around the edges and on the back) the shellac remained intact (even when it was scrubbed with the nailbrush). I can only conclude that something in the open medium affected the shellac (or maybe the medium in combination with paints from another brand). I must admit I was not using the Matisse open medium with the Matisse Structure paints for which it was intended so it could be the combination and not the open medium by itself that has caused the problem. I have left the plate in the sun to dry out as I quite like it as it is so it could be sealed once dry and re-used for another purpose.

Lessons Learned

I learnt that I should have tested the shellac as a waterproofing agent on some small pieces of the card rather than using it for the first time on a plate that took me several hours to make. Then I should have tested the painting medium on those samples. My reading had indicated that shellac was the way to go but most of the books I was referring to were pretty old – open medium and paints that can be “unlocked” have been developed since they were written. The information I had would have been written for plates that were intended to be used with printing ink (which at that time would have all been oil based I imagine). Now I do actually have some Derivan Matisse Structure paints and some of their Block Printing inks (water clean up is also a recent development) so I guess there is a whole new area of enquiry right there. The question is – am I ever going to actually produce any artwork or am I going to carry on testing for ever? 🙂

Collagraph plate experiments – thin card + shellac

Artwork by Liz, Artwork Experiments, Uncategorized

How I made the collagraph plate

I have finished weaving paper (it took me ages – much longer than I anticipated!) to make another collagraph plate.

Woven paper collagraph coated with Shellac. I like the effect - looks almost like bamboo.

Woven paper collagraph coated with Shellac. I like the effect – looks almost like bamboo.

I used Selly’s Exterior Aquadhere PVA to glue the finished weaving to a piece of thicker card previously sealed with WestArt Crystal Clear spray varnish (but I forgot about that when I glued the paper weaving on).

Once the glue was dry I sealed both sides with Shellac. I think I did about 6 coats on the weaving because that is going to get a lot of use, and I did 2 on the back because I realised that it wasn’t soaking in as I had previously sealed the thick card with WestArt Crystal Clear varnish. So that indicates to me that the Crystal Clear may be a good enough water-proofing agent by itself.

The back of the woven paper collagraph coated with Shellac. I like the texture.

The back of the woven paper collagraph coated with Shellac. I like the texture.

A detail of the woven paper collagraph plate. I like the inclusion of the printed lines from the scrap paper.

A detail of the woven paper collagraph plate. I like the inclusion of the printed lines from the scrap paper.

I really like the appearance (and the feel) of the paper sealed with Shellac and will experiment more with this on different papers/fabrics/threads. I’m also wondering what Shellac would look like over different colours of paper/painted paper. Tissue paper and brown paper could look very interesting.

And I still like the broken lines that look like code too 🙂

Collagraph plate experiments – thin card

Artwork by Liz, Artwork Experiments, Uncategorized

I have been experimenting with making printing plates from various materials I had on hand (some of which I had bought years ago but never got around to trying of course). These can be used to remove paint to create texture on the Gelli plate (if they have some flexibility and no sharp projections) or as printing plates in their own right. I recently did quite a bit of reading about different ways to create collagraph plates. In particular I was interested in ways of waterproofing the plates if they were made from materials which weren’t already waterproof such as paper/card or fabric. This is because I have had experience in the past where some glues become sticky again when wet.

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I have made one out of thin card (140gsm) and paper shapes glued onto a thicker card (600gsm) which I have sealed with 2 coats of Atelier Regular Gel (Gloss) and 2 coats of WestArt Crystal Clear spray varnish. Concerns are that the edges will not be waterproof as it is difficult to make sure they are coated. I haven’t tried it yet and as they say “the proof of the pudding is in the eating”. I have since read that Shellac waterproofs paper and card because it works by soaking in rather than sitting on the surface. This has 2 benefits: the entire plate is waterproofed rather than just the surface, and fine details are not filled in by the sealant.

I am therefore in the process of making another plate, with the texture of weaving, from the same thin card which I will glue onto thicker card and then seal with Shellac (which I have used before to seal wooden stamp blocks, but not for paper). I am interested to know whether the texture of the weaving will show or whether I will just get dots in a regular grid from the high spots.

These are the marks that were on the scrap paper that I cut into strips to make the woven paper collagraph.

These are the marks that were on the scrap paper that I cut into strips to make the woven paper collagraph.

While I was making this I became intrigued with the way the lines that were printed on the thin card were displayed in a completely new way. It looks almost like a code or cipher. So I’ve filed this away in the back of my mind in the “inspiration” category.

Printing – and overprinting

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For my second attempt I took some of the prints from my first session and added a second layer. I’m not so keen on the multi-coloured patchwork effect which seems to be the predominant way to use the Gelli plate as I find them very busy in general. Some people seem to carry this off with aplomb but I’m sure my efforts will look more like “a bomb” (has gone off) than “aplomb”.

This print has too much contrast for my liking so I decided to try overprinting it.

This print has too much contrast for my liking so I decided to try overprinting it.

I want to see if I can produce simple, well-composed images within the confines of the Gelli plate with only a few pulls (say up to 5) which then need minimal “tweaking” to finalise them. I’m envisioning a few well-placed stitches, collaged paper scraps or brush strokes to accentuate focal points will be all that is required to complete them.

I see the patchwork happening when I cut up the less satisfying prints to create collages.

I created a printing plate from printing foam by pushing the blunt end of a skewer into it to create an all over dots pattern. I used this in 2 ways – to put ink (acrylic paint) onto the Gelli Plate – and as an indirect printing plate by taking paint off of the Gelli Plate.

I used a bamboo skewer to push holes into some polystyrene foam. The foam was used to remove paint from the printing plate. This print is from the printing plate. The print from the foam isn't shown.

I used a bamboo skewer to push holes into some polystyrene foam. The foam was used to remove paint from the printing plate. This print is from the printing plate. The print from the foam isn’t shown.

The second photo has no white because the ink was applied to the Gelli plate first and then the foam printing plate was used to remove paint from the Gelli plate. Where there is contact some paint is removed (giving a lighter colour) and where there is no contact the paint is unchanged (and therefore darker). A paper print pulled from this has no white showing.

This is a previous print which had a lot of contrast (very white circles on a dark blue background) overprinted with the ghost (second pull without adding more ink) image of another print

This is a previous print which had a lot of contrast (very white circles on a dark blue background) overprinted with the ghost (second pull without adding more ink) image of another print.

The third photo shows a previous print which had a lot of contrast (very white circles on a dark blue background) overprinted with the ghost (second pull without adding more ink) image of the print in the second photo.

The layering of images and the density of the ink will take me some time to master I think – my vision of “simple, well-composed images within the confines of the Gelli plate with only a few pulls (say up to 5) which then need minimal “tweaking” to finalise them” could be a long time coming 🙂

Gelli® Plate Printing – First Attempt

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Designing Women were kind enough to allow me to attend a meeting where 2 of the members, Debbi and Linda, were giving a demonstration of printing using acrylic paints with a Gelli® Plate. I was keen to watch their demo because using a Gelli® Plate was next in my investigations into printing at home without a press. Both of them did a fantastic job and answered heaps of questions. Several of the members had a go after the demo as Debbi and Linda had brought lots of extra supplies. I waited until I got home to actually open the Gelli plate I bought recently. I used mostly 110gsm cartridge paper and some 80gsm bond copy paper this time (cheap for a first time effort) but towards the end I tried a couple of pieces of higher quality, thicker watercolour paper which gave lovely results.

This print has too much contrast for my liking so I decided to try overprinting it.

This print has too much contrast for my liking so I decided to try overprinting it.

Debbi and Linda demonstrated heaps of ways to use the Gelli® plate but these 2 photos show that I inked the plate (using acrylic paint), placed circle masks on top of the paint and then took a print. Where the masks were the paper remained white. Then I removed the masks, spritzed the plate with water and took a second print. I really like the way the masks themselves removed some paint so I got a lot of texture in the circles on the second print. Needless to say the masks were turned over and used to create yet another print 🙂 The first print was sort of disappointing, although I could see it had potential for other layers over the top. The layering is the bit I need to “get my head around” to actually produce some art but the second print from this same layout was much more exciting, and I felt that it could be used “as is” without another printing layer but with some embellishing using pencils/pens/paint and/or stitch.

Water was spritzed onto the plate after the first print was taken and then a second print was made.

Water was spritzed onto the plate after the first print was taken and then a second print was made.

In all I think I produced about 29 prints on the first day (and I photographed every single one in my enthusiasm!) so I won’t bore you with all of those. Suffice to say that Gelli® printing is every bit as addictive as it’s reputed to be 🙂

Permission has been granted for me to use the Gelli® trademark.

Finished collages!

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Close up of collage, linocut print and mixed media on acid free 600gsm cardboard. April 2015

Close up of collage, linocut print and mixed media on acid free 600gsm cardboard. April 2015

This is a detail shot of my latest completed collage (the 7th I think). I used some of the papers I have been painting over the last few weeks (3 out of 100’s – grin). I had carved a couple of lino-cuts just before Christmas and used one of them for this piece. I printed the lino cut with Derivan Block Ink and later worked into the piece with Derwent coloured pencil, Pitt Indian Ink Artist pen and Rembrandt soft pastel. I will give it a few coats of fixative because of the pastel and pencil before storing it. This series of collages are all 20cm W by 30cm H.