Working hard on some new ideas

A few posts back, here, I showed you a test piece I had done – thinking about ways of presenting information and photos from our Italy trip ready for an exhibition in Wellington in May. In that piece I used a couple of MM foam stamps. I am happy enough with the result but would really like to be using something more personal, something uniquely my own. When I was studying with the Learning Connexion I did some lino cuts and a lot of monoprints. Here’s a couple of examples:

I decided the answer was to take an image from our trip and cut a stencil or make a stamp and use that in the new artworks. The image needed to be something iconic enough that people here in New Zealand would still recognize it even after I had simplified it right down. I had a play with statues, the domes on top of churches, the bridge over the Tiber and the Colosseum. The Colosseum won easily, it is just *such* a recognizable structure. I scanned one of my photos into Photoshop and reduced the level of detail, then turned it to a negative so I could cut out the right parts. I transferred the image onto my lino and got cutting. My first attempt I really liked, but I had forgotten to flip the image and so in terms of my memories of the Colosseum, the building is running the wrong way. Okay. I flipped the image and started again. The end result is quite a different linocut to the first, because that’s the way I work, but I like it. It has energy and it’s mine, not someone else’s idea of the Colosseum.

I wanted to do some more linocuts but had run out of lino, hadn’t had time to get some more, and it’s quite expensive. Today I was watching ‘Acrylic materials and techniques for expressive art with Merle Rosen’ from North Light DVDs. It’s a great dvd by the way, fun to watch and Merle has an exciting art practice. Anyway, part way through I had a total “Aha!” moment. Merle uses old styrofoam packaging to make stamps; it’s cheap (free) and easy to make marks in with scissors, metal tools, old pens etc. How cool is that?

We tend to buy most of our meat from the local butcher. Grant’s old-fashioned, in the best sense of the word, and wraps the meat in brown paper. So no styrofoam meat packaging in our household, but we can always buy some muffins — just for my art practice you understand.  In the meantime, here are my first attempts at the Colosseum – these are the linocuts themselves, not the printed images. The images are not perfect and I don’t want them to be; they’ll be used in the background of mixed media works I’m creating over the next month or two.

Linocuts of Colosseum

Monoprinting on fabric

My friend Trisha and I have a private challenge going on, where we each create a textile piece once a month and share the process, and results, with each other. I am running a bit behind, however…

I have been seeing a lot of artists doing monoprints and linocut lately, and that got me thinking. Today was THE day, Taranaki Anniversary – an extra day off work to do art with. Cool!

I simplified the photo using ‘cut out’ in Photoshop, reversed it and printed it out. I drew the basic lines onto acetate then painted it with acrylics. (they dried a bit too quick on the heat really). I did a quick test run on some scrap paper and was satisfied I had the basic shapes. I’d already washed and ironed some very pale fabric, but left it vaguely damp. I re-did the paint on the acetate, laid the fabric down, put paper over the top and rolled like heck with a brayer. I lifted it off quickly before the two bonded together and there it was – my first monoprint on fabric. I repainted and lifted off another couple, so I would have some to play with.

This is much more abstract than last month’s work, and I’m pleased with that. I want to do some stitching on top of the paint now, to put some details in here and there. Oh, and while I was at it, I layered the base photo and the fabric monoprint on top of each other in Photoshop – just to see what would happen.

Original photo and fabric monoprint, layered in Photoshop.