Project 13 Combination Monoprint

For this project, I wanted to continue to build on work from previous projects where I felt my plates could be enhanced by a monoprinted background. In particular, I wanted to look at the idea of combining a monoprinted background with a collagraph plate printed as a ‘key’ plate.

in PA previous assignment I had cut a lino plate of a snail but felt I hadn’t realised the background effectively. My tutor suggested a graphic background would have been more successful and to consider the work of Mustafa Hulusi. His ‘expander’ graphic would have been perfect but I had to think of my own approach.

part 5 (16 of 19)

I played about with some monoprinted backgrounds developed from the idea of the shell spirals, with a obligatory nod to Matisse. I felt the contrast with a really graphic background would be more powerful.

snail (8 of 8) snail (7 of 8) snail (6 of 8) snail (5 of 8)

I then looked at graphic backgrounds such as warning or poison notices, and settled on one developed from electricity warnings. To achieve the graphic element this was linocut rather than monoprinted.

snail (4 of 8) snail (3 of 8)

I then tried to monoprint an iridescent slimy snail trail as an extra layer, but, for the irridence, I had to use acrylic paint, and this warped the paper.

snail (1 of 8)


This print is a rework of a print from an earlier project, suggested by my tutor. I think this linocut is greatly enhanced by the addition of a graphic background, inspired by Hulusi’s expander graphic. My plan was to include a monoprinted iridescent slime trail, but the iridescent paint adversely affected the paper, rippling it badly.

The contrast between the soft curves of the snail with its rather organic cutting created by using a Dremel, and the hard, straight edges of the background ‘warning’ work very well. I think the scale of the background graphic is just a bit too big.

I would have preferred to use neon inks, had I had any available, although I understand that neon ink is always of questionable archive quality. I was tempted to introduce more colours in the background but felt that this would detract from the strength of the graphic image.

In my final prints, I masked the non-printing areas with tissue paper to create as clean a print as possible with no cutting ‘noise’. I think the print is improved by masking out the cutting lines.

Ultimately, I find this print unsatisfying because I don’t think I have moved the idea on enough from Hulusi’s expander logo to make it my own. However, it has shown me how two styles can be combined and contrasted to great effect. I have tried to use this insight in my combination prints.


Further combination Monoprints.

These prints didn’t really fulfil the core idea of a monoprint background with a key plate overprint, but I hoped my next print would.

In a previous project, I had been looking at industrial buildings, and this was reinforced when  I recently visited Ironbridge, where I saw the 18th century blast furnaces and iron being cast.

I wanted to capture the heat and fury of the process, and the way the night sky was lit up in the past by the blast furnaces. I wanted to use ideas of melting, flowing and bubbling. The technique of using a blow torch on a collagraph plate seemed perfect for this.

coalbrookdale (17 of 26) coalbrookdale (14 of 26) coalbrookdale (12 of 26) coalbrookdale (7 of 26) coalbrookdale (6 of 26) coalbrookdale (4 of 26)coalbrookdale (16 of 26)

I had taken a lot of reference photos on site, including some of a video showing a blast furnace and steam hammer in action. I used painting, drawing photos and collage in my sketch book to distill my ideas.

part 5 (10 of 19) part 5 (11 of 19)

part 5 (12 of 19)part 5 (13 of 19)

My first prints used monoprinted backgrounds in yellow and red layers. The ink was rolled on to a Kraft board plate, wiped in places, and spattered with white spirit which was allowed to run and drip. My object was to produce a background that looked hot and molten.

coolbrookdale (2 of 6) coolbrookdale (3 of 6)

On the back of the Kraft board plate (so identical size),  I applied fabric, tile cement and pva glue and subjected these to a blow torch to make them melt and bubble. I also applied carborundum and brown parcel tape to create the silhouettes of industrial buildings and chimneys. I proofed this and  made some minor changes.

coolbrookdale (5 of 6)

Collagraph plate proof

I overprinted in cyan initially.

coolbrookdale (6 of 6)

My registration was poor, I think because my key plate was warped by the heat and didn’t meet the rollers flat. Also, I had thought my plate exactly square but I think it was a little out, magnifying inaccuracies when I printed it in reverse over the monoprint.

I thought the blue too bright and producing too much green, so reprinted in blue/black.

blast furnace (4 of 7)

Again, poor registration and the black ink is weak; overwiped. I had three more backgrounds and moved to french blue for the key plate.

blast furnace (5 of 7) blast furnace (7 of 7)

These two prints also have registration issues and the smoke from the chimneys has been overwiped and looks contrived. In my final print I decreased the quantity of blue ink to create a less contrasty and representational image.

blast furnace (6 of 7)


This print was inspired by explorations into industrial architecture and by the history of iron founding at Ironbridge. The foundries worked continuously and lit the night sky. I wanted to capture the heat and fury of this industrial landscape whilst not being too representational. The colours and the large size of the print (nearly A2) are intended to make instant impact.

The print is a combination of a monoprinted background, in a yellow and then red layer, textured with white spirit and also draw into. This was then overprinted with a collagraph ‘key’ plate made by melting materials on a board with a blowtorch, and adding carborundum and tapes for tonal range. The objective of this plate was to imply the landscape through materials in flux from one state to another, mirroring the smelting process.

The size of the print is right at the limit of my press bed, and this added to registration problems caused by the board warping under applied heat.

Reference photographs taken at Ironbridge inspired my choice of colours. The use of blue, rather than the traditional black for a key plate, contrasts with and emphasises the hot colours. I have achieved a wide tonal range in the print but would have liked to have stronger blue ink at the bottom of the print to really bring out the textures there. The texture at the bottom of the plate is, I think, its most successful element and I would have liked it to be more obvious. However, the greater wiping of the blue plate has made the buildings less obvious, subtler and more abstract.

On the whole, I feel I have achieved the rich colour and texture I hoped for by combining these techniques. The industrial process of making metal offers a rich seam of subject matter to further explore.


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Research – Combining Monoprints with Other Techniques – Barbara Rae

When trying to look at examples of prints combining monoprinting with other techniques, Barbara Rae instantly came to mind. I saw two of her works in the ‘flesh’ at this years RA Summer Exhibition, and they stood out for the strength of the image. This impact comes partly from her use of rich, strong, layered colour, but also from the blocks of contrasting tonal value across the prints. At first glance, her prints seem deceptively simple; overlapping blocks of colour which have been drawn into to just suggest her subject.

rae (4 of 6)

Rae, B. 2006. Island Sentinel. [Monoprint 38cm x 38cm] Lambirth and Wardell (2010) p137


The simplicity is of course a deception. The idea or design may be uncluttered and direct, but the final print is the result of subtle, considered technical processes. She talks about the need to place colours sparingly and in consideration of the previous colour layers (Lambirth and Wardell (2010)). Relative transparency and opacity, positive and negative shapes, line and texture are all carefully judged. The prints have a spontaneous feel because she develops them responding to the effect of each layer. She describes the process as ‘planned discovery'(Lambirth and Wardell (2010, Preface).

Although the fundamental design is no doubt clear in her head at the outset, she revels in experimentation and responds to the print as it develops through its many layers. It would be so interesting to see her sketchbooks in relation to her finished work and understand how this process of conception, developed through the physical process, is realised in the final print.

Rae works with monoprints, collagraphs, etchings and screenprints, often combining several or these, but in each she is working towards a painterly interpretation. Collagraphs and etchings are often used as a final tonal layer to “hold it together”(Lambirth and Wardell (2010, p11) . This ‘key plate’ would traditionally be black, but often Rae uses a vibrant blue, or even an opaque white or pale blue.

rae (2 of 6)

Rae, B. ‘Seafield’ 1995, [Etching and Collagraph, 40cm x 45cm] Lambirth and Wardell (2010) p81

It is clear that she revels in colour. Many of the vibrant colours in her prints are created by the overlaying of transparent layers. She says of her early experiments “it would have been so much better if someone had told me not to put the same colours everywhere” (Lambirth and Wardell (2010, p11) and, indeed, the lightest tones are often where no ink  as been allowed, giving strong tonal range, for instance in the two prints above.

Excited by these ideas, I attempted a monoprint in this style. I inked up a perspex plate in successive layers, considering and developing my print as I went. I used damped paper and a registration sheet, leaving these pinched in the press between layers. This dictated working briskly before the paper dried out and shrank.

exploring rae (1 of 2)


I really enjoyed the developmental process and the experimentation. There are four layers and colours; any more would have been chaotic, I think. I tried to combine positive and negative shapes, and I think that this has worked. The design has been over constrained by the limited number and size of rollers I have. I think this would have been enhanced by the final blue layer being created as a carborundum plate. I can see that it would take me years of experimentation, building up experience, to finely judge the layering of colours, transparency, opacity and tone.


Lambirth, A and Wardell, G. (2010) Barbara Rae Prints. London: Royal Academy of Arts

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IPE 2014

To challenge myself to produce an edition, I entered the International Print Exchange run by Green Door Printmaking, Derby. I entered a small drypoint developed from looking at Morandi’s work and described here. You submit an edition of 10 prints, one gets exhibited and in return you receive eight prints. The exchange is unjuried.

ipe14 (2 of 11)ipe14 (1 of 11)ipe14 (3 of 11)

This week I received my pack of prints and what a little packet of joy it was! The parcel was beautifully presented and I was surprised by the personalisation and the information included. I particularly liked being told who my prints were from (impossible to read the signatures) and who had been sent mine.

ipe14 (6 of 11)

ipe14 (11 of 11)

My prints came from the UK, the Netherlands, Poland and Australia and my prints went to the UK, Australia and Taiwan. I love the sense of connectedness this gives me with printmakers around the world. The enclosed letter also gave a list of all the participants, a breakdown of where they came from, their chosen printmaking method and the paper used. Printmaking manna from heaven!

ipe14 (7 of 11)ipe14 (8 of 11)ipe14 (10 of 11) ipe14 (9 of 11)

I have really enjoyed the challenge of working to brief (here just physical dimensions) and editioning. Sharing my prints with others around the world and seeing their work in return has been a very rewarding experience. I hope to enter again. My sincere thanks and congratulations  to the organisers.

The IPE is dedicated to the memory of a Green Door printmaker:

ipe14 (5 of 11)



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Japanese Printmaking Course

I have spent an exhausting but rewarding couple of days learning traditional Japanese printmaking with Laura Boswell hosted by the RHS at Wisley.

Laura started the course with an extremely interesting introduction to the history of Japanese woodblock printing explaining its origins in the mass production of text and image. Prints became very popular with the emerging middle classes and were produced in bulk in a production line system with skilled craftsmen working on each process, the designer, the carver, the printer etc. Originally, there was no concept of  a fine art process or editioning. With contact with Europe in the 19th century, the style of prints changed to include perspective and less idealised subjects. At the same time, Japanese prints were traveling west and greatly influencing European artists such as Van Gogh and Gauguin.

wisley (1 of 3)

Blocks cut on plywood, cutting tools and kento chisel. Non-slip mat underneath.

During the first day, Laura taught us how to transfer a design making effective, thrifty use of wood and how to cut our design. Holding and controlling the tools, especially the dagger-like hangito, requires concentration and practice. At the end of the day we each had about four plates cut ready to print, complete with kento registration slots. Laura gave us a demonstration of the inking methods to set us up for printing the next day.

In the morning we started to ink our plates and print on to paper which had been prepared by damping and leaving overnight between pads of damp newspaper inside plastic sheeting to conserve the moisture. We used watercolour paint which was combined on the plate with nori, a paste cooked up from rice starch and water. These were dabbed on the plate and worked with Japanese ink brushes to a silky gloss. The paper was positioned against the kento slots and then pressed down and rubbed with a baren. For a stronger colour this could be repeated several times.

wisley (2 of 3)

Block and brushes, paper stored in newspaper pack in plastic, pot of nori and baren

We proofed our complete prints doing a print of every plate and colour onto damped decorating lining paper. Laura showed us how to adjust the kento for any registration errors. She also showed us how to produce effects with the ink such as bokashi where the ink is graduated, deliberate baren texture and printing wood grain texture. We then reproofed and printed our plates in order, for a small edition. Everyone worked so hard and intensely that hardly a word was spoken and the excellent lunch got scant attention.

At the end of the course, I had produced about eight prints, experimenting with different effects and trying out Inktense colour instead of watercolour. My prints were pretty poor, but then instant expertise isn’t to be expected in a technique which took years to learn in a traditional workshop. I loved the craft element of producing the prints and am already working on my next design.

Four block woodcut using Inktense, with bokashi.

Four block woodcut using Inktense, with bokashi.

What an excellent course; the venue was stunning with lovely refreshments and lots of space. Laura was extremely professional, covering a lot of contextual and technical information. She was most generous with her time and knowledge, and I learned more than I would have thought possible in the time. Her handouts were detailed and comprehensive and her website includes lots more information.

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Part 4 Gallery

This gallery contains 27 photos.

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Part 4 Morandi Project, Critical Review

Morandi Print Series

Akiko’s Bottles I

Drypoint on acetate

Drypoint on acetate

‘Akiko’s Bottles’ is a small drypoint print from acetate in two colours. This is an artist’s proof pulled to try out colours. Later prints lost their strength of tone, as the burr on the plate wore down. This print was a spontaneous expression of pleasure at acquiring these two hand-thrown stoneware bottles, expressed through direct mark making. The print, like the bottles, is directly influenced by still life etchings by Giorgio Morandi, in which he used complex hatching to express tonal contrasts between simply expressed shapes.

I wanted to acknowledge a relationship with Morandi’s work whilst not producing a print ‘after’ Morandi. I have tried to achieve this by using freely drawn single lines in the foreground. Where I have used crosshatching, it has generated sufficient tone to soften its linear effect. The background is very dark in order to throw the delicacy of the bottle necks into relief and provide tonal impact. The wobble and inconsistent spacing of spontaneously drawn lines reflect the hand made nature of the objects. Initially the plate was proofed in just blue but a second, analogous colour was added to help separate the bottles from the background. These calm colours were chosen to suit the tranquillity and non-confrontational nature of a still life. The size was chosen to be small and intimate, inviting the viewer to look into the print closely.

Technically, I think the print is successful with good tonal contrast and the mark making coming through. The two colours have mixed through wiping at the edge of the bottles creating transitional colours and making the space between the bottles pleasingly ambiguous. Although the colours achieve the tranquil effect looked for, the green is perhaps too reminiscent of glass, and a brown would have reflected the stoneware better and been a more direct Morandi reference.

The diagonal line and the dark toned background stop the print becoming insipid. The non-symmetrical shapes of the bottles and the highlights, reflections and shadows have been described with an ambition to involve the observer in the objects and share my pleasure. Whilst small, the print is full of dense information.


Two Flasks

Morandi’s exhaustive investigation of everyday objects inspired me to continue my exploration of a simple subject but I have tried to find my own path by looking at these bottles from different, hopefully, original aspects. This print is based on a sketch drawn in strong, low sunshine, looking directly from above. Visually, the shadows had more impact than the objects casting them and I have placed them in the frame to dominate. They also provide a strong diagonal design element. I have chosen to crop the shadows which emphasises their length and creates interesting negative spaces. The tones from my sketch were carefully mapped into three grades and created on the collagraph plate using micaceous oxide (similar to carborundum), the matt board itself and brown parcel tape. I wanted to make the viewer see the shadows and then puzzle out the objects casting them. The first proof in a single colour integrated the shadows and the flasks too much making the puzzle rather hard. Two colours were therefore used and I chose the same colours as the previous print in order to create a reference between them.

The tone mapping has created a Cubist feel, which perhaps isn’t inappropriate considering Morandi’s early interest in that movement.

The large areas of flat tone made this plate difficult to wipe and there are inconsistencies of tone. The view from above has created ambiguity and this is a more challenging print for the viewer than the drypoint.

The intersection of the shadows with the frame works well and the shadows draw the eye down to discover the flasks, but these are placed very close, perhaps too close to the right hand edge. In creating a large plate with the centre of interest in the bottom right hand corner I have tried to break common compositional rules, further challenging the viewer.

I feel that the green is the wrong colour, again, and have reprinted this using a burnt sienna for the bottles, which is more successful as an expression of the subject but this is the better wiped print. Of the five or six proofs, I was only happy with this one and this has some light patches on the upper right edge where I held the plate whilst wiping it.


Two Flasks III

m print (28 of 31)

Again I have tried to be inspired by, but not copy, Morandi and seek an unusual viewpoint for a still life. My ambition in researching Morandi was to learn from his approach to a figurative subject whilst simplify and abstracting. I have looked at the flasks from underneath and drawn the two shapes of their bottoms, suggesting the rest of the form with gestural lines. The design references Morandi’s painting of two barns near his home. The two are placed centrally with just a line of hillside behind them. The painting is all about the conversation between the two simple shapes.

This print is a sugar lift etching and I have tried to create texture in the two main shapes, which reflect the marks produced by the potter cutting the work from the wheel, and create a variety of mark. The plate had earlier been used for a failed soft ground exercise. I hoped that the faint traces of a previous design would add interest in otherwise blank areas. The plate was etched three times to create three different tones and in this print, a roll-over of very thin colour added to emphasise the two main shapes. Earth colours were chosen to suggest the clay, but the shades also reference a Morandi still life at the Estorick Collection. I experimented with different chine colle shapes but prefer this less cluttered image.

I found the sugar lift etching very satisfying supporting painterly mark making. However, whilst technically successful, I don’t think the works. I was trying to create a design that didn’t necessarily have to be read figuratively but this is just not interesting enough to involve the viewer. I think the gestural lines are too strong and actually distract from the conversation between the two shapes.


Two Flasks II

flasks (3 of 3)

In addition to trying to look at the subject from different viewpoints, I also used different lighting conditions. Here the flasks were sketched in a room lit by light through a door just highlighting the side edge of the shapes but loosing the form in the shadow. I wanted to capture in a print a dreamy, contemplative quality with subtle transitions and an extreme range of tone. I wanted the shapes to be mysterious, possible flasks but possibly towers or chimneys.

My sketch reminded me of the qualities of a mezzotint, and, over ambitiously, I tried to create the subtleties of tone using a litho crayon on aluminium plate and copper sulphate etch. My drawing on the shiny plate left a greasy mark barely visible to the eye, affecting the quality of my drawing. The proofs didn’t create the range of tone I was looking for, nor the velvety mood of the darkness, so I modified the plate with carborundum. This greatly improved the tones but the accurate expression of the curves was further lost.

This print is in black, something I rarely use because of its deadening nature, but here I wanted the darkest tone possible.

I think the mood has been captured, but the subtleties of curve and transition of tone are poor. I think this idea would have been better expressed through a different approach, mezzotint or pure carborundum print although the etching has provided some variety of texture to the image. I find the black rather flat and dead; I suspect it can always be improved with a touch of blue or sepia but recognise that this might be a watercolourist prejudice.


Dark City I and II

Collagraph using a variety of mediums, some burnt for extra texture, with some drypiont

Collagraph using a variety of mediums, some burnt for extra texture, with some drypiont

I have looked at how Morandi took his investigation of simple utencils and used the same approach to objects in the landscape. I also looked at artists either inspired by Morandi or working in a similar was; Ben Nicholson, Henry Moore, John Piper and John Virtue among others. These prints bring together that thinking with my earlier collagraph experiments using materials melted and bubbled on the plate by a blow torch. By including the ‘Gerkin’, my landscape is clearly rooted in a real place but the buildings have been suggested as softened shapes reminiscent of standing stones. A dark, threatening sky has been added to create movement, add interest at the top of the frame, and also create atmosphere. I have included drypoint linear marks to break up the junction between building and sky and add another dimension of mark.

My initial proof (I) was very dark and atmospheric but I felt lacked some interest of tone and texture on some areas. These plates absorb a lot of ink at first and loose detail. I developed the texture in some areas with pva and carborundum and reprinted. Unique prints were developed through successive pulls, leaving some areas as ghosts and reinking others. I also experimented with ‘rubs’ of colour and rolling ink over, as in print II. This approach can lead to a wide variety of response from a single plate, offering great opportunities for development and experimentation.

Plate developed with some areas left as ghosts and some areas rolled or rubbed with a second colour.

Plate developed with some areas left as ghosts and some areas rolled or rubbed with a second colour.

I felt that the invented landscape in ‘Tundra’, although grounded in my passion for wild places, was a too easy option, a ‘cop out’. I hope that the inclusion of a recognisable, iconic building places the landscape and involves the viewer. Here, the storm clouds over the City of London can be read as an anti financial institution metaphor, but I prefer to see it as manmade structures being powerless in the face of forces of nature. I want to encourage the viewer to look at an image over and over and seen something different each time; a different reading, a different nuance of texture or tone.

I feel I have just scratched the surface of where this project is taking me. I hope to continue with this thread and look at sculptural, industrial structures in the landscape, perhaps oil refineries, blast furnaces etc and look at creating a richer surface using over-printing, monoprinted backgrounds and other approaches.

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Morandi Project

During Part 4 of the course, I have undertaken a project to produce a set of related prints arising out of objectives set by my new tutor. These were:

  • consider the subject for a print more
  • broaden my imaginative ambition
  • write more at length about my opinions of my work, question the potential meaning and how a viewer might interpret that
  • look around my subject area and consider lateral possibilities
  • consider art and artists who might impact on my subject
  • engage with a subject for a print or series of prints in more depth.

This challenge was of a different order to those I had had up to this point in the course. So far the challenges had been technical.  It happened to coincide with a visit to Art In Action where I had been inspired by the work of two artists, painter Sarah Spackman and ceramicist Akiki Hirai, both influenced by Giorgio Morandi. I bought two of Akiko’s flasks, purely to draw, and was happily engaged in this when my new tutor challenge arrived. I have therefore decided to base my project on Morandi,  not just exploring his approach to still life but seeing where this might take me in analysing form and tone and interpreting this into an abstraction of form and landscape.

I discovered Morandi a couple of years ago,  reading Ian Simpson’s book ‘Drawing: Seeing and Observation’, Simpson (1973). He references Morandi’s work in his discussion of ‘Analysis and Selection’,  ‘students….report that they can find nothing that interests them but the most trite and conventional subject contains some aspects waiting to be discovered by those prepared to investigate’ and this is what attracts me to Morandi. He took the most mundane everyday objects and investigated them obsessively for years. It is an obsession I can comprehend. I love life drawing but many circumstances are often beyond one’s control. Even drawing a tree depends on the light, season and weather. With a still life, one can control many parameters and yet find many nuances to understand and interpret. The two flasks I bought from Akiko have asymmetries and can be lit or turned to have changing conversations with each other. You can concentrate on drawing, understanding form and tone, whilst shedding other variables.

Morandi bottles

Akiko Hirai’s flasks

Initially, I had started drawing thumbnails of the flasks and then, selecting one arrangement made a larger drawing in charcoal.

morandi bottles (1 of 1)still life bottles (1 of 1)

I now started to research Morandi and his works. My charcoal sketch echoes the sort of enquiry he made early in his career. Having taught himself etching, his prints examine  tone as a complex map of hatching as in Still Life with Very Fine Hatching.

I did a very quick sketch of the shrubs in the garden trying this approach but completely lost my way.

m print (15 of 31)

As Morandi’s artistic career progressed, he limited himself to subjects close to home; the local landscape and domestic utensils. He collected a considerable number of these and, as his representations became more and more pared down, he covered them with mat paint  to eliminate labels and shine. Gradually his paintings became simpler and simpler, pursuing an essence of the objects by reducing, then eliminating, shadows, context and perspective. The utensils assume an importance beyond humble utility; they become totemic monuments in an empty landscape or religious vessels on an alter. His obsessive examination seems akin to a zen  meditation in which all sense of self is lost in pursuit of an higher essence. In some works, the pots disappear completely and are only represented by a void.

In looking at Morandi’s work, I also looked at work by other artists who were either directly inspired by him or whose work echoed his pared down vision of still life and landscape. In this, I wasn’t trying to research threads in the history of art, more to make free associations and to grasp an understanding of these creative  processes to apply to my own work. I was looking for a route into abstraction and simplification.

m print (22 of 31)

m print (20 of 31)

m print (21 of 31)

My trail of association lead me to look at work by Tony Cragg (especially his laboratory series), Sean Scully, Henry Moore (especially his ‘Stonehenge’ prints), Ben Nicholson, William Scott Tate, Patrick Caulfield and John Virtue. I tried to analyse how they had simplified their still life or landscape subjects, what they had chosen to leave in and take out. I saw them flattening space, omitting atmospheric perspective and three point perspective, removing context and detail. Many used a very subdued colour palette, or no colour at all (Patrick Caulfield being a notable exception).


I also visit the Estorick Collection in order to see some of Morandi’s works at first hand. Disappointingly, only one was on show, but I am pleased I went and saw it in person. It was a small painting (most were) about 10 inches by 12, deceptively simple. The paint is scrubbed about on the canvas and, although almost monochrome, there are real subtleties. The background is a cool colour , the jars in a similar tone but in a warm colour. The items are arranged symmetrically in the centre of the frame and have the air of a religious icon. The canvas was pasted onto board which looked like any old bit of cardboard with one corner dented. I really enjoyed sketching and analysing this small work.

estorick (1 of 1)

Morandi, G. (1962) Still Life. [Oil on Canvas] Location: Estorick Collection

estorick (1 of 2) estorick (2 of 2)

In parallel with this research, I have continued to explore my flasks and other objects. I have tried to look at them from differing points of view and different light. I have used collage to help map tone and I have looked at moving the shapes into landscapes and interpreting  a landscape in a similar way.

m print (14 of 31)m print (16 of 31)m print (17 of 31)m print (23 of 31)m print (24 of 31)m print (25 of 31)

I have developed prints from several of these sketches. In contrast to the earlier parts of the course, I haven’t tried to explore a particular printmaking technique; rather I have tried to select the technique suitable to the image. The exception to this was on an etching course last week, where I tried to select an image which would suit that particular technique. This approach has produced a set of prints based around a subject but which don’t necessarily work together as a series.

Inspired by Morandi’s hatching technique, I made a simple drypoint of my two flasks.

Drypoint on acetate

Drypoint on acetate

I liked the sketch of the bottles from above, with very strong shadows. I like the diagonal shapes disappearing out of the side of the frame, the negative spaces and the fact the subject it isn’t instantly obvious. This is a very simple collagraph where I have mapped the tones using micaceous oxide (like carborundum) for the shadows and parcel tape for the highlights. I have deliberately kept it simple to emphasis the strong shadows. It was very difficult to ink and wipe evenly with its large flat areas of tone.

Collagraph using tape and micaceous oxide plus the tone of the board.

Collagraph using tape and micaceous oxide plus the tone of the board.

The sketch of the bottles from beneath inspired this etching using sugar lift. I then developed the print using a very light roll-over of ink in colours inspired by the Morandi painting in the Estorick Collection.

m print (27 of 31)m print (28 of 31)

I thought this was a good addition to the plate and went on to print it using various chine colle papers. I tried using a monoprinted tissue, khadi paper cut from a linoprint background and lokta tissue.

pic (1 of 1) flasks (2 of 3)flasks (1 of 3)

I think the final one of these is the most successful after the ink roll-over. I prefer the inexact nature of the shapes and overlapping tissue. This is hand made lokta paper and I am aware that it is non archival and fades badly.

dew (1 of 1)

The sketch above was used as inspiration for another etching using a lithograph crayon as a stop out. I like the soft tones here and the play of light.  My etched plate didn’t really capture this and I would have liked to develop the plate further with etching but ran out of time in the workshop, so I developed it at home using carborundum. This gives a softer feel but I think the image really calls for a mezzotint.

flasks (3 of 3)

For my final image in this series, I used a sketch where I had looked at a very simple London skyline and tried to simplify it using the fell I had developed sketching the bottles. I was also inspired by the research I had done looking at Henry Moore’s prints and drawings. His use of wax crayons is a very useful way of representing texture and breaking up solid shapes.

dew (1 of 1)-2

I wanted to interpret this as a collagraph to capture the textures. I prepared a couple of test plates to examine the tonal gradations I could achieve with various materials. I looked at the initial prints but also at ghosts because I know that some textures print better as the ink develops on the plate.

m print (7 of 31)

m print (8 of 31)

m print (9 of 31)m print (10 of 31)

I kept my plate and shapes very simple.

Collagraph using a variety of mediums, some burnt for extra texture, with some drypoint

Collagraph using a variety of mediums, some burnt for extra texture, with some drypoint

I quite like this initial, dark, forbiding print, but also developed the plate with a bit more texture and colour. As always with collagraphs each print has its own strengths and weaknesses. I would like to create a bigger plate in this style and try combining it with monoprinting and overprinting.

Plate developed with some areas left as ghosts and some areas rolled or rubbed with a second colour.

Plate developed with some areas left as ghosts and some areas rolled or rubbed with a second colour.

I have really enjoyed this research and the ideas it has generated. I can see this continuing into the Part 5 of the course.


Simpson, I. (1973) Drawing Seeing and Observation. Reissued ed 1982. London: A&C Black


Coldwell, P. (2006) Morandi’s Legacy, Influences on British Art. 1st ed.  London: Philip Wilson

Cremoncini, R. (2012) Giorgio Morandi Lines of Poetry. 1st ed. Milan: Silvana Editoriale

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