Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Solarplate Workshop

On October 3-5 I took a workshop with Dan Welden to learn how to use solarplates. This three day workshop was a real challenge for me as I tried to do some images that were not my typical kind of thing. Eventho I did quite a bit of preparatory work, I was still somewhat stumped as to what to do. I didn't want to just print photos, but I did want to explore all the possibilities for the solarplate, which to me is almost a kind of cross between printmaking and screen printing. So here's some of the images I worked on...

This first image is a digital photo I took here on the ranch and then imported into Photoshop. I played around with levels and posterizing until I had something I liked the range of tones in. I thought this would be a good test for the solarplate. I first exposed my plate with an 800 dpi aquatint screen for a minute and a half and then 1:30 exposure with the film positive. I did a regular intaglio inking and printing on Hahnemuller paper. The detail on this one was very impressive along with the velvety blacks. I used Graphic Chemical Bone Black Etching Ink.

This is a ghost print of the same image (meaning I just placed another sheet of paper on the plate and then reprinted it). I thought this came out good as well...completely different.

The next day I decided to try painting directly on the solarplate. I used black etching ink to make a drawing of poppy seedheads then scratched lightly into it with rubber contour brushes, wooden picks and Q-tips. The plate was then exposed and printed. I felt I had overwiped the plate and had lost much of the background detail.

So I did a couple more prints playing with the inking to see how the detail would change.

I'm not totally happy with this image and would like to spend more time playing around with other inking ideas using the Akua Intaglio Inks I just ordered.

On the final day I wanted to work with drawing on a transparency, but I was stymied to come up with an idea. On the way to class I grabbed some leaves off the Balm of Gilead poplar by our gate and had stuck them in my pocket. I pulled them out and started doing rubbings of them with black oil pastel. It worked great on the transparency and Dan suggested a dusting with baby powder to bring out the fine detail. The plate was exposed and inked and this was the result...

I made one final print with a surface roll of the Akua just to see how that would look...

I enjoyed learning about solarplate and I'm sure there are some instances where it will come in handy in my artwork.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Encaustic Monoprint Workshop

On September 19th and 20th I went to a workshop with Elise Wagner for encaustic monoprinting. Elise is a well-known encaustic painter from Portland, Oregon who I learned about from Linda Womack when I took the basic encaustic workshop with her. Elise makes her own line of encaustic paints and has a wonderful gallery of paintings on line here. Be sure to check them out.

Our task for the first day was to do a little encaustic painting on a birch panel to get the feel of the wax. We learned to imbed images, do image transfers and other cool stuff. Everyone was very excited about the possibiities. In the afternoon we started our encaustic plates for the monoprints. This involves applying white (or any color really) encaustic wax paint onto a plexiglass plate. You can either paint your design, or add wax and then carve, melt, scrape to get your design. My first plate was a flop so I ended up scraping off all the wax and starting over. I ended up with this...

For my first print I intaglio inked the plate with pthalo blue and yellow ochre water soluble intaglio inks by Akua. This was my first time using these inks and I was impressed with how easy they were to use. I loved the fact that they could just be washed off with a little dish soap and warm water (but not too warm, you don't want to deform the wax). After wiping the plate I decided to do a relief roll with burnt umber. Here's the first print...

For the second print, I added pthalo green and a little red oxide to the plate to get this...

For the final print, I cleaned the plate and changed colors completely going with an intaglio inking of yellow ochre and carmine red, with surface rolls of burnt umber and red oxide.

I really enjoyed this process and I want to do more work with it. I started a second plate in class but it is not ready for primetime yet...more later...

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Already November...

Boy, it seems like every time I look at this blog I have laxed big time. Hmmm...maybe I need to put this on my "To Do" list? After looking at everything that I've been working on the last three months, I realize I really need to take more pictures of works in process. Since my last post I've attended an encaustic monoprint workshop with Elise Wagner and a solarplate workshop with the master himself...Dan Weldon. I've also completed the top for the baby quilt too, all of which I really need to photograph and will try to do so soon. I promise! In the meantime, I'll post some details on the wedding piece from June of this year.

The piece ended up being 17.25" wide by 47" long (including hanging stick and fringe). It is comprised of 42 separate 'pages' of hand dyed fabrics in a rainbow of colors which were then embellished with angelina fiber and organza linear forms. These pages were backed with inkjet printed photos and wishes from the newlyweds' friends and family which were composed in Photoshop using backgrounds of watercolor art created by the young niece and nephew of one of the grooms.

The pages were then mounted on a multi-colored batik backing fabric in two 'scrolls', each one with 21 pages. At the top of each scroll, buttons with fabric beads and metallic threads were attached.

At the bottoms, fringe was created using recycled Tibet silk yarn from Himalaya Yarn. At the bottom of the fringe are brass bells from India, iridescent glass beads and fabric 'prayer wheels' which were embroidered and beaded with silver beads. Each of the six prayer wheels contains a stanza from the Buddhist Metta Prayer (lovingkindness).

Because the piece had to also function temporarily as a garment for the officiant, a matching beaded fabric collar was constructed to which the piece attached by velcro hooks. Once the ceremony was over, the piece was detached from the collar and hung on an easel at the reception so that people could touch and look at it.

Did I have a grand plan for this piece? Well, not really. I started out with the idea that I wanted to create some prayer flags and then the ideas just sort of evolved as I got into it. It was one of the few projects that seemed to have a life of its own. As it hung on my design wall, inspiration kept speaking to me to 'try this', 'add that', 'take that away'. As I worked, the project gained momentum and ended up being something completely different from my original vision. Luckily I had almost six months to think about and procrastinate over starting. But the end result was very satisfying.

For more pictures of the process go here and here.