Having cleaned a perspex plate, I applied Akuakolor waterbased inks to the plate with a variety of bristle and other brushes. I was disheartened to see that the ink was drying rapidly before I had progressed very far, so I tried varying the amount of ink I was applying. I spend only a few minutes brushing colour on to my plate and then smoothing cartridge paper over, by hand, and then with a spoon back. The result was disappointing, as I feared. The inks had dried too much. I damped some paper by spritzing it with water and then blotting it, and then reprinting my plate. Some more ink did lift but the result was still disappointing. Areas where I had left more ink splotted rather than giving a better print.
I then tried oil based, Caligo Safewash Inks, on the same paper, but this time I soaked if first for ten minutes and then bloated it carefully so that there were no shiny patches. I also ran this through the mangle that I use as a press. The result was much better, and the colours much richer. There was still quite a bit if ink on the plate, so again, I printed the ghost.
This ink shows brush marks well, and even the faintest marks were printed. Areas where the ink was thicker didn’t print as well, loosing definition.
I then tried a water-based medium, letting it dry in the plate and printing it on damp paper. I used Inktense blocks. This produced lovely, transparent colour but very little pick up. Most of the pigment was left on the plate, even using a press. I tried again of different paper, using a Japanese Hosho tissue, which I thought might be more responsive, but to no effect.
I went back to the Caligo inks and tried more mark making. I also tried adding Caligo extender to the ink to make it a little thinner for painting. This was easier to apply but produced softer, less defined marks. I drew back into the ink and used other utensils, dabbers, silicon shapers etc to apply the ink.
I felt ready for that first monoprint, so I draw what was in front of me, the golden syrup tin I stand brushes etc in , and the saucer I had put my inks out on. Since most of my painting experience is in watercolour and I have never painted with oils, I found the inks quite a challenge to work with, and I applied much too much in some areas. It seems to me that you have to embrace the fact that you can’t apply the ink with any precision.
This is pretty dreadful, but I do like the vibrancy of the colours and the areas where I have wiped and drawn back into the ink is definitely the most effective, especially the reflective brush ferrules.
I didn’t feel I had exploited the ability to make brush marks, so I had another go, trying to capture the texture in the garden. I used a bare minimum of ink and hand-pulled this on slightly damped Hosho tissue. I think the textures are quite effective but the paper rippled as it dried, even under blotters and books.
Wanting to try something a bit looser, I used gouache paint to sketch the fish tank. I wiped the plate with gum arabic, hoping this would help release the paint. I applied it with brush marks in some areas and watery pools in others. I let it dry completely and then printed it on damp paper though the press. This is more like the painterly effect I was looking for (if overly twee).
Trying to reconcile this interesting result with my earlier waterbased failures, I decided to do further tests. I I did a quick sketch of a pottery rabbit which I could repeat easily. I tried the following variations:
All the waterbased media were painted in under three minutes, and still many areas had dried. The Akuacolour slow drying medium helped a little but also easily produced blots. I do like the effect of colour mixing and texture in the watercolour paint. By contrast, I also like the retained brush strokes in the Akuacolour. The oil based ink certainly retained texture best but has a completely different, less free, feel. That rabbit will not see the light of day again for years; I’m sick of it!