Viewing blog posts in Method and Making
I actually can’t quite decide what’s going on back in there – is that the most ethereal mountain ever, or is it sky? Dunno. But I sure like how this one sets up questions!
CLICK ON THE PICTURE ABOVE – SO WORTH A CLOSER LOOK!
I probably won’t post again for a few days – so much to do, and I’m trying to get it done. Until next time, here are closeups of today’s Norway picture, to give you something to wander around in.
Lately, I’ve been using an antique printing press to create some textures and portions of my pictures, but I work with India ink. Squishy, watery ink + an old iron press = RUST = BAD!!!
To contain the mess, I put what I’m printing inside paper folders – LIKE THIS ONE! The pressure drove the ink clear through what I was printing and into it. WHAT A BEAUTIFUL, UNEXPECTED BONUS PRINT!!
I should also mention that I’m printing images twice as big as my press bed. I manage it by folding what I’m printing in half so I can do two sheets at once. Here, let me quickly diagram what we’re really seeing here:
THIS IS A FAILED PICTURE – – – BUT IT ISN’T!
Confused? Well, here’s a little background: I’m using a 100 year old printing press to create portions of my new mountain pictures, but printing with India ink is like trying to control squeezed water! It’s messy, and even in the best instance, barely predictable. But I’m gaining a VAST range of new pictorial and textural possibilities.
It’s no surprise that many pictures tank, and the one above is a perfect, miserable example. Nothing worked, not the pressure I used, the ink I applied or even happenstance. So, say goodbye, pitch it in the corner and start over, right? Yep that’s about how it was gonna go, that is until I turned the sheet over and . . . WOW!!!
I’m using such thin paper that my watery ink is being driven clear through my sheets! And it turns out the backs are sometimes MUCH more interesting than the fronts! The next snapshot is the reverse side of what I had thought was a horrible picture:
Pretty damned HOT! Obviously, I’ve done a lot more work on top of the ghost image I started with: further printing, plenty of brushwork and even a bit of digging and ripping along the bottom (that’s why you can see a patch in the top view). I can’t wait to flatten and scan this, so you can really see how rich and ethereal it is!
I’m going back in – lots and lots to try to get done this week, so posts may be sporadic – – –
Your Buddy Bill
Do I have at least 50 pictures finished or still in progress of this Norwegian mountain I’m stuck on? Bet so. Every flat surface in my workspace is piled high with them – or the debris of a gazillion failed attempts. I’m being BURIED!
The flip side is that I have a TON of bits and parts to mess with. Rip, tear, tape & temporarily collage – – – it’s actually become kinda fun. And mind bending. Some of my creative paradigms are being shuffled around too!
The snapshots above and below are of two of the assemblages I’m talking about. They require A LOT of imagination and forgiveness on your part, but try hard and you might see pretty daring graphic ideas lurking in there. Yes, I know the big crack in the middle of the mountain belos can’t be straight like that, and all the ponderous black must somehow settle in more. And the picture up top? Sheesh, I don’t even know what to say – – – I’m learning here!
An owl gone totally nuts. Is he even an owl anymore? Doesn’t matter – he’s still keeping his cool! Did him SIX years ago and just came across him again. It looks like I even used my electric toothbrush to make some of those marks!
A big ol’ bloom again, I know, but with story: while painting it, I became so disillusioned that I tossed it like a frisbee into the corner. Do you see all those dripping marks going upwards? Thats when they happened! I pitch a lot of losers onto the floor, but this is the only time it ever resulted in such wonderful and unexpected marks!
A few days later, while cleaning up a bit, I rediscovered this picture, and I changed my mind completely. I don’t know why I hated it so, but I was wrong – it’s a good one. There are some quite wonderful mark/texture combinations going on in there!
The funniest part is that I’ve tried making intentional “frisbee” marks but can’t get them to work right!
Here are close ups for you:
First off, click this image and take a good look, then I’ll tell you about it – – –
Oh, am I confused! There are some incredible things happening in there, but this is the back of one of my pictures!
Okay, maybe third of this image is the result of ink (in various dilutions) having been forced clear through from the front – remember I’m using a printing press quite a bit, so I can create lots of pressure. The rest of this picture is what I did trying to complete the incredibly ethereal (and unexpected) surprise I discovered when I first turned my paper over!
Clearly, there are some things I still must attend to (like the white spot on the shoreline under the big, black mark. That’s a hole that must be mended. Easy enough, but tweaking this picture the rest of the way will be agonizing. I’m not sure how to do it.
So, I’m running away tomorrow! I’m gonna go fishing, and I might do it Wednesday too. Yep, screw art, it’s time to play hooky.
When I paint, I don’t start with any underdrawing – and usually have no plan other than to make some kind of first mark and then go from there. Very improvisational. I LIKE working this way – it’s free and uncertain – ideas pop in without my expecting them to. If I get a good one, it can change from one picture to the next.
Wanna see what I mean? Let’s take a look by first revisiting two blooms I’ve already shown you. In this one, bold brushstrokes outline the petals around the edges of the bloom – it’s very straight forward:
In this next one, those big black marks are beginning to wander away from their first purpose! They still sort of establish the outside edges of the flower, but aren’t they also about what surrounds the flower – almost background? And notice how within the liquidy gray in the middle, you can begin to see the shapes of pointed petals.
And here is the picture we were heading towards – – – now, the petals that were just beginning to make their appearance in the last picture, have become their own bloom, while the big outside marks have drifted off into surrounding space! From even a short distance, all of these paintings would look very similar, but now you can see that they’re not so at all!
Here’s a closer look just for the heck of it!
Moves this close to the disaster hardly ever behave. There’s no such thing as a small mistake, but BIG ones happen way too often!
Once in awhile though, all of my marks go down right (or close enough) and I get a picture like this. Then it’s time to sneak back in and add a little fine texture and detail. I think of it as starting up a visual conversation – giving the big stuff something to talk to. Plus, it’s fun!
CLICK THE IMAGES TO LISTEN WITH YOUR EYES!
I managed some particularly ragged (yet really well directed) mark making in this picture. It’s powerfully graphic, with great character and contrasts in the textures!
Good Morning to my Sweetie down in Wallaby-land! Especially missing you this morning – – –
Very like yesterday’s bloom – and maybe even nicer? It’s not unusual that I do several variations of an image. I frequently work through an idea that way – it helps me see it in different aspects. Broader vision = growth and more creative power!
I know, yet again I said there would be no Norwegian mountain show-n-tell for the next few days, but I had to show you this!
Good things are happening here in my hermit’s attic workspace. I’m pretty jazzed! But I’m also surprised by an extreme jump in how much I’m scrapping, ripping and collaging. That’s exciting image making, yet it also means that when I’m “done” with a picture, I’m actually not. These are barely holding together with tape and clips – I have a whole lot of sanding, fitting, flattening, gluing and reinforcing ahead of me.
I still don’t understand how to make this whole printing with India ink thing really work. Mostly, I make big messes, but occasionally I also get images like the one above, and wow oh howdy, do you see why I keep at it?
It seems one trick is to rapidly wet portions of my paper and slam ink down, then layer in my printing materials (and often more ink or water) before cranking everything through the press. If I do that, some of the image prints, and the rest of it is achieved when the ink is either lifted off the surface or driven into the sheet. And of course, there’s a lot of ink that squeezes and squishes around too. That can be particularly interesting.
Did you notice the center crease in the top picture? My press isn’t large, so I’ve been printing a 17″ x 24″ sheet by folding it in half and doing both sides at once. When I’m finished with a picture, I trim out the fold ugliness, and end up with a two sheet image like the next one (which I just did this morning):
You should click each picture to take a close look – very worth it!
I often layer painting and printing, which is kind of fun, and also nerve wracking. False moves kill pictures! BUT I have a big secret: there is so much press pressure that my ink is driven clear through the sheet. Even if a picture really tanks, the back can look utterly exquisite!
Case in point: the picture below is actually made from two different ones. Look carefully and you’ll see a ragged, torn edge separating the top of the image from the bottom 2/3rds! Now get this – that bottom is the back of a really bad picture. I ripped and taped it in place, then wetted it, brushed and spattered ink right over top, laid in my printing material dry, and ran it all through the press! I also did some printing via hand rubbing – I get completely different effects going that route.
Now, I must flatten, and assemble this one, before tweaking it to the finish line.
Okay, are you ready for things to get even stranger? Keep scrolling down!
In the next picture, I’ve begun putting a top on two smaller lower sheets! Yes, of course, I’ll have to add more on each side at the bottom. Trust me, that’s the easy part. This picture is such a big mess right now, but if I can pull this off, it might be amazing. I’m excited and confused.
I saved the best for last! This morning I was just messing around with scraps and the remnants of losers, when this weird, assembled image fell into place Actually, I’m collaging more and more, so that’s not new, but this time I may have sprained my brain a little. I don’t know what to think of this hint of a picture. Some vague, marvelous idea is floating around in it. Now I gotta find it!
I’m going back in. Might not post again until next week – I’ve got my hands full!
I must be getting really smart as an artist, because I’ve sure had a string of stinkers these past several days. Baaaaad looking pictures, but the laws of stubborn determination and averages say I’ll have some good show-n-tell for you at some point this week! Meanwhile, here is an odd bloom to tide you over!
Make it bigger – click and enjoy – – –
Now in two sheets and except for one or two fussy tweaks, I’ll leave it alone and move on – – –
I had intended to put a water line in this one, thinking I was making a picture of a headland on the fjord, but now I’m wondering if, aside from small fussing, it’s done?
This is another folded print – basically the next step from the makeready folder prints I showed you this morning. It had to be folded to fit on my press, though I printed both sides at once. Yes, it’s 100% printed – and in only two passes!
Does the fold – and all the activity in it – bother you? I can’t decide. I could separate the sheet into two halves, or maybe bind it into a picture album, in which case the crease would suddenly make sense. We’ll see. I’m a long way from those decisions yet.
You MUST look at this bigger – CLICK IT!
What the heck is this, you’re asking? Wow, do I have a story to tell!
First though, you need a little background: I’m using an old letterpress to do an etching press’ work, and I’m printing with watery drawing ink, so each time I run something through the press, ink squishes and squeezes out everywhere. That’s bad! I don’t want my poor old press to start rusting! So, I must contain a complete mess, and I also have to control the pressure on a press that has no adjustments. You would think I need to be goofy ingenious but nope!
Now, here’s a new printing term for you: makeready – in letterpress printing, the final adjustment of the pressure exerted on all parts, by using overlays and underlays in different areas as required.
Holy crow, that sounds scary technical, but all it really means is you need lots of extra paper! By putting little pieces of it over or under what you’re printing, you can increase the pressure as it’s being printed. In my case, all I’ve done is expand on the idea. I not only add scraps and sheets of paper to tweak pressure, but I place what I’m printing within paper folders so that when my ink squishes out, it has no where to go. THAT’S what the picture above is – the makeready folder that enclosed the picture below while it was being printed!
Because my ink is sooooooo thin, the pressure during printing forced it clear through the actual print and into the folder too! It’s a print printed by the back of a print! Here’s another one:
These aren’t just kinda cool – they’re gorgeous images all on their own. It didn’t take me long to realize I had a lot more than just a surprising side effect happening. So I started to intentionally set up more squish. I inked the back of my plate so it would print directly on a folder. And of course, it didn’t take me long to start running my folders through the press all on their own, printing additional layers. These next two are examples of that:
And now the inevitable: of course I would have to start painting and scraping and grinding on one of these. I mean come on, I’m me!
My final picture is the biggest question mark of all! Buried under there is the original makeready image, all but run over by all sorts of frantic activity. If you think the whole right side of that picture is confusing – you’re right! I’ve temporarily taped on bits and pieces of inked scrap, as I play with the idea of doing some collaging.
You know, at this point in my pandemonium of a workspace, I can’t tell what’s art and what’s not as it’s lying around!
Hey, these are all worth clicking on to get a better look!
I promised show-n-tell for today, but I’m not feeling great, so no new landscapes. Fear not – I hope to be wildly back at it tomorrow. Meanwhile, here are two pictures to hold you over, and something interesting that I’ve discovered.
Apparently, I retain a sense of moves or marks I’ve made, long after I’ve forgotten making them! It’s only now, as I sort out the scans of almost 300 flower pictures, that I see how they have resurfaced here and there without my realizing it.
I remember liking the picture above quite a lot when I made it, but I was worried that it was too whacky to be recognizable as a bloom. Now look at this! Close to a year later, almost the same flower popped up again (below at right), but this time it’s in context. That picture tumbled out so fast, and I was pleased, but I guess it wasn’t quite as spontaneous as I thought! I wonder what else is drifting around in my noggin, waiting to reappear?
CLICK EACH PICTURE TO TAKE A CLOSER LOOK!
I hope you’re into a pleasurable and satisfying weekend. I’m looking forward to more studio time, where I’ll continue to use my printing press to paint as much as print with. Since I’m working with drawing ink that is as thin as water (which has not been helpful) it’s clear that success must come from turning this drawback into advantage.
So, I’m over doing it applying water and ink too, but strategically, so that I intentionally set up areas of squish and squash. I’ve been switching directions on my press halfway through a pass, doing some frantically quick painting so that the marks I slam down will pick up impressed texture or even double transfer themselves, and anything else I can contrive. I’ve also figured out how to print both sheets of my images at once, even though together they’re twice as big as my press bed! Things are unhinged here!
Although there was a bit of manipulation and good deal of surface alteration after running these through the press, all are still about 95% printed – and from the same plate too! Well, I’m not actually using a printing “plate.” That’s a chat for another time, but for now, isn’t it amazing that as different as these are, they all came from the same basic set up?
More show-n-tell is coming – but not until Tuesday. See you then –
Your Buddy Bill
THESE ARE REALLY WORTH SEEING LARGER – CLICK ‘EM!
I’ve been up and at it for quite awhile, so I’m taking a little break to show you quick snapshots!
I’m really using the press I moved up into my studio, and am still printing with my good old drawing ink (India Ink). Man-o-man it’s crazy time! Watery, out of control and barely predictable – – – kinda. I mean, I know if something will come out gray, for instance, but how it’ll print in gray and what weirdness will be in it? That’s always a surprise, sometimes bad. BUT the best part is that the unfortunate stuff makes me attack and mess with my pictures more aggressively than ever.
So, good is great and bad can end up pretty good too.
All of these pictures were printed, painted upon, and had their surfaces very badly abused. I’m pretty darned excited. I’m pretty darned elemental. And I’m getting back to it!
More to come –
Your Buddy Bill