In earlier prints, I really liked the effect of backgrounds printed in layers through mesh as a stencil, creating interference type patterns.
I wanted to explore this further using the whole plate, and placing geometric stencils over each layer. I wanted to retain the interest created by different densities of the colours, but still have a strong design. I saw this as a balancing act between exactitude and happenstance, a solid background but which still showed some variation of colour density. My original print had been done using a gelatine plate and open acrylics, which are very transparent, so I decided to stick with that medium. I explored shapes in my sketchbook but rapidly concluded that my stencils had to be very simple shapes.
My first attempt used triangle stencils on three layers. I registered the stencils using a grid drawn under my transparent plate, but it wasn’t clear enough through the rolled out paint. I also didn’t get the background smooth enough, using my hand to press the back of the paper. However, this introduced an element of ‘back drawing’ to explore. Parts of the background did produce the ebb and flow of colour combinations I was looking for.
I decided to use a linear stencil where I could mark its position at the edge of the plate. I also experimented in this print using heavy body transparent inks to see if I could get a richer colour mixture. I thought the effect was quite interesting, but I preferred the very transparent paint in, effectively, process colours.
This has the the coming together and breaking up of the background patterns I was looking for, without being too solid. It looks rather like a digital effect but has a paint texture and presence on the paper.
For my next development, I inked my plate and placed the net over it, and then draw on the back of the paper with the roller handle. I repeated this in the three colours. I aimed for a very simple abstract design, because of everything going on with the colours and mess. On some of these prints I only used the mesh on one or two layers.
I quite like the organic effect of these but I am not sure they have enough substance as prints.
Going back to my original idea, I next used geometric stencils which could be placed without registration issues. In the first of these prints, I tried to make sure that the stencils overlapped on successive layers, to leave white areas and generate all possible colours. I wanted the background solid but with some variation. I think I achieved my objectives, but I am not sure the print is strong enough. In the print on the right, I used four rectangular stencils and torn pieces of mesh. I think that this has created a more interesting, less contrived print. I was quite tempted to use this as a background for a figurative shape printed through a stencil, but I have decided that I like it as it is, and that would have taken me back to where I started.
I think that this was a very interesting experiment. The results were very hard to control.
- bright colours
- easy registration printing through a mask
- colour mixing using transparent paint
- the almost digital nature of the prints combined with the physicality of the paint
- these are completely different in character to my other prints in this project
I don’t like:
- the process is very hit and miss; I wasted much time, paper and ink to achieve these few prints, but then that’s monoprinting
- I think the design element is lightweight
- need to use thin paper, which can crease as you lift it off the paint
I think it would be interesting to try this effect digitally. I could scan the mesh in different orientations, make each image a CYM layer and experiment combining them with mask layers etc in Photoshop or equivalent, playing about with positive and negative. This would be right at the edge of my photo processing experience. I could also develop the idea of the linear stencils with paper cut into wave shapes.