I can see an abstract design in the shapes of the fields, road and glass house, which I developed in my sketch book. I planned to emphasise the contrast between organic and man made, the warm and cool colours, and the different textural qualities of the blocks of colour. I simplified the shapes considerably into an increasingly abstract image.
I could think of many ways of combining stencils and plates to create this image. I tried to think of the simpliest way that would give me three board areas of colour, two of them textured and one with inset areas of colour. I decided on a pale, cool background over printed with one plate onto which I would roll a gold/green on one side and a ultramarine on the other, both textured. I then planned to mask the central shape with a thin plastic shape onto which I could drawn my additional coloured flashes with ink on a cotton bud. Basically, a very thin plate over the other plate.
I printed several pale blue/grey backgrounds, using a registration sheet taped to the back of a plastic sheet, and let them dry. A couple of days later, I re-damped my paper to print another layer. Instantly, I clearly had problems. I only dipped the paper in water for a few minutes before leaving it to rest and equalise moisture between blotters, but some of the ink lifted off in the water leaving a blotchy surface. I think this must be a consequence of using water washable inks, although I had believed they were permanent on paper once dry. Either this isn’t the case or I didn’t dry then long enough. I pressed on hoping the blotches would be under my second layer of ink. I planned to work this with a mesh on one side and cotton buds for crop marks on the other. Mechanical v organic.
My next disaster happened after I had inked my plates to reprint. The paper disintegrated on the plate, sticking to it in places.
I don’t know if my ink was too sticky, my paper too damp, a further problem with the previous layer of ink, or a combination of these. I used very little pressure in the press, but perhaps even that was too much. I just have no idea but this clearly wasn’t going to work.
My next plan was to print on damp paper in two successive passes without the paper drying and leaving it pinched in the press.
My registration wasn’t prefect, but that as immaterial because my second layer of ink just didn’t pick up. I think this is a viscocity effect. Either my first layer was too sticky and wet or the relative viscocities were too different, or perhaps both too loose. I had added transparent ink to my second layer, hoping for a luminous effect. I tried again using stiffer ink.
This is slightly better but the structure of the paper has still broken down a little in places and the darker blue area has still printed to weakly. My registration is still a bit off and the background colour is too strong. My red flashes of colour are too weak and insignificant. The paper creased so I took the pressure off even more.
This effort is better with a better balance of colours and tone. The registration isn’t perfect and I would have liked the texture of the mesh to show more. I wanted the red shapes to look soft and painterly against the hard edges but I think they just look a bit messy. The small linear areas cut from the stencil have not printed.
I would have persevered with this and tried to produce a better print but I think the idea doesn’t translate into monoprinting as well as I had hoped. I would like to revisit the design with linoprint and I can also see that it might translate much better into a collagraph.