As part of my research into mark making, I went to the LOPF at the RA, hoping to see some inspiring work. There was lots of work by famous printmakers; Ravillious, Bawden, Piper, Hockney, Picasso etc, so the visit was worth it to see these works alone. Many of the prints were screenprints or lithographs and so perfect that they could have been giclee prints. One can understand the public confusion. I was disappointed that many works were framed so that they did not show the plate edge, which I feel is part of the character of an original print.
Two printmakers stole the show for me. Stoney Road Press were showing prints by Donald Teskey. These were carborundum prints combined with etchings. They appeared to be three layers, two carborundum with a black etching layer over the top. They closely follow his paintings, and the gallery told me that he works from a painting to a print and then sometimes back again. The layers build up into a rich mix of colour and texture on a large scale, producing a really meaty work. Most of them are an edition of 75 and editioning this complexity of print must be very challenging. I think the use of a square format for a landscape is interesting.
A German printmaker working in woodcut really caught me eye with his mark making, Bernd Zimmer. The gallery had available books of his works to browse including this photograph of him working. Now that’s my kind of mark making! And the size of that press!
The woodcuts were four or more layers, very freely cut with non traditional tools. He produces series of prints using sets of plates printed in different orders, colours and combinations. The edges of the prints were a little messy in places, with the odd smudge, and I really liked this; the connection with the process, definitely not a giclee! The seller told me that Zimmer insists that they be framed to show these marks as part of the character of the work.
Some works were relatively small, A4ish, looking at the wooded landscape and reflections in the lakes in his local landscape. I really enjoyed the scale and vigour of these larger, older pieces (right at the bottom of the webpage) looking at storms. These are huge prints with real physical presence.
I felt there was a lot to take away from these two artists for my own practice:
- the use of a black key layer over a collagraph/carborundum print, linocut?
- explore carborundum for texture as well as tone
- local colouring of a collagraph
- translating a painting into a print
- translating a charcoal drawing into carborundum
- expressive mark making on wood with woodworking tools
- having a ‘library’ of same sized plates which can be combined in different ways
- ambition to work large.