Project 4 – Combination Monoprints – Murmuration

One of the subjects which I thought would suit monoprint was a murmuration of starlings when they all fly in huge balloon gatherings before roosting. As a child, I used to see this over Birmingham city centre in the evening, and it was thrilling to watch it last year on a visit to Glastonbury.

P1030701

My idea here was to develop a monoprint background for the sky using rollers and wiped with tissue for clouds. I then planned to print overlapping balloon shapes through stencils. These would have to be printed very lightly because I did not want to produce solid shapes. As a third stage I planned to back draw an element of landscape in the foreground, for context. This would be very sketchy because I was the birds to be the focus of attention, and I thought backdrawing would be very suitable for that.

I printed about 10 backgrounds to have room for error.These were printed on the press with damp paper.

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My initial attempts were horrid, with my colours becoming muddied. I preferred the ghost prints, on the whole. I thought that my background would have to be quite light for my stencils to work. I was concerned though, that my paper would be too thick for back drawing to work well.

When these had had a few days to dry under pressure, I cut two loopy shapes out of paper and used these as stencils over a very lightly inked plate. Registration wasn’t an critical here apart from overlapping the shapes. In fact, in some cases I moved the stencils around to try and create a greater sense of movement. Initially, I used a stiff brush to press through the paper and the stencils to get a speckled effect, then wiping selectively with a finger to get denser areas. This worked quite well. I practiced on plain paper and then on my poorer backgrounds. Actually these were significantly improved with the second image, although they were to strong, in my judgement.

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On some of the prints I then added a sketchy, back drawn foreground. This was a greater challenge of registration and I masked the bottom on the printing area with a strip of paper. I don’t think this works so well through the thicker paper and I didn’t always get this aligned exactly with the edge of the print.

The prints on the lighter and ghost backgrounds worked best, making the swirls a more obvious focal point.

Foreground a bit too dominant in this print

Foreground a bit too dominant in this print

Good colour in sky but I would have liked some blue.

Good colour in sky but I would have liked some blue.

The background works well, but shape a bit too dark

The background works well, but shape a bit too dark

I like the Turneresque sky in this print

I like the Turneresque sky in this print

I think the concept has worked well generally, although I am less happy with the foreground. I am not a great fan of the back drawing, but I think this was an effective use of it.

I am pleased with:

  • the general concept
  • the combination of the three techniques
  • the stencil shapes
  • selection of techniques
  • tonal balance of some of the prints

I would have liked to have done better on:

  • back drawn foreground
  • clarity of colours in the backgrounds
  • I picked up ink from the edge of the stencils giving fine lines in some areas
  • consistently balanced tone

Next time, I would:

  • print the background as a graduated roll
  • print the background in two layers to keep colour clean
  • refine my registration technique further.
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About starrybird

I am mature student studying art with The Open College of the Arts. My passion is printmaking.
This entry was posted in Part 1 Monoprints, Printmaking 1, Project 4 - Combination and Textured Monoprints and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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