Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Highs and Lows of Reduction

Here's the latest contribution to the portfolio.

"Where the Lilies Grow"
Speedball water based ink (6 colour run) on Strathmore Bristol, cut from vinyl, edition size 6, dimensions 100mmx71mm (roughly, but slightly smaller than, 4"x2 3/4").

1. I wanted to convey a cathedral-like atmosphere; the place where these tiger-lilies were growing was by a road cutting through northern forest. The trees in the background seemed to be uplifted and bringing the lilies up with them. So here's the underlying composition I was using:

Doesn't really quite line up properly here, but the idea was to have a vanishing point off beyond the paper, to give it the image some lift.

2. Something I'm extremely happy with is the "relief quality" feel of this piece. I sometimes struggle with the medium; I don't necessarily make use of that special quality of the relief print where there's tool marks, and the special kind of tool marks inherent in relief printing. Here's a close up of the upper left hand corner where I feel this was particularly successful:

This is also a good example of why I enjoy using reduction - I feel that the layering of the colours is particularly lovely in this passage.

3. Something I constantly struggle with and am not happy about is smudginess in parts where there's a large area that's been cut away and non printing surrounding a tiny area I want to print with the last colour when I'm down to my last state of the plate.

This is an example from one of the prints that did not make it into the edition. What a pain that it happens AT THE VERY LAST COLOUR. Argh. One of the pitfalls to reduction!

The more I read on the printmaking section of the WetCanvas! forum, and the more I work with the vinyl blocks & Speedball inks, the more I figure I need to buy some better materials. So I'm awaiting my litho friend's list of litho goodies he wants before I put in an order to Daniel Smith for some stuff. I've had a look at people's suggestions throughout the forum on inks & papers, so I've got some ideas of what I'd like to try. I'm afraid I'm going to stick with water based for now, mostly from the fumes perspective (oil-based inks make me nauseous), although I might sample the water cleanup oil-based inks at some point. I'm also thinking about Natalia's technique of combining reduction & multiplate once I get some lino blocks. I can't do that with sufficient exactness yet because I cut and size my own vinyl blocks, and I'm not precise enough to get good alignment for multiplate printing. Besides, the material is squidgy, so it can deform, thus two cut as exactly as possible might still not align properly.

Anyway, I'm still learning, and still figuring out things with this medium, and having a lot of fun doing it. Overall, I'm quite pleased with this edition (wish it had been a wee bit larger, but... ehn), and I'm very happy with the way the image worked out; it was definitely what I saw in my mind. And I really like the colours, too, kind of delicate. I think the feeling is just right.

No comments: