Archive | March, 2007

exp_err – Monoprint Man

25 Mar


If I had any doubt that exp_err would get a nude, it disappeared after fred_bear went all art nouveau. Also, exp_err had expressed some enthusiasm towards receiving a naked chick when the meme first started so I thought I was probably onto a sure thing 😉 Just to clarify, though, Monoprint Man is not a naked chick, but a naked bloke. I think it’s pretty obvious, but I realise that his crossed arm could be considered a bosom and his genitalia is rather indistinct. This is the beauty of the monoprint!

So what is a monoprint?

Well, as it’s name might suggest, it’s a one-off print – the most painterly of the printmaking techniques!! (I love this phrase 🙂 Traditionally, monoprints are prepared by painting ink onto a panel (non-porous perspex or metal or glass) and then putting a piece of paper over the panel and sticking the whole thing through rollers to transfer the image. The act of rolling can cause unexpected results that you just don’t get with a straight painting. Apparently some artists display both their prints and the panel as ‘mirror images’. The technique we used in class (and that I had also used in my ‘first steps’ class) is simpler. Ink is rolled onto a perspex panel, a piece of paper placed lightly over the panel and the ink transferred through pressure – either by using a pencil or your fingers or whatever you like. So a monoprint with this front has this corresponding back. The lovely thing about monoprints is their unexpected quality. You never know exactly how the image will look until you peel off the paper. The simple act of rolling the ink on your panel can affect how your final art work looks. The thickness and quality of the line changes depending on how thick the ink is and how many prints have been made beforehand. Monoprinting is also very tactile – pressing with your fingers almost feels like you’re sculpting. While some monoprinting is laborious, the technique we used doesn’t take that long to do. I reckon I did up to 20 monoprints in class, when normally I might do between 5-10 pictures depending on what we’re doing. But, while this might imply these monoprints are quick and disposable, each one is absolutely unique and can’t be repeated.

I did not plan to give exp_err a monoprint. In fact, in the week before we did monoprinting, I’d gone into class with the aim of creating a whole painting for her. However, it was – if not crap – not what I was hoping for. I think in this case one of the problems was that I was really drawing with paints, rather painting (something I’m working on now). But also, in a 3 hour class the longest pose is normally an hour and it is just not possible to get above a certain level of consideration and care. From this respect, monoprinting is a great technique for a lifedrawing class. And when I reviewed my work at home, I knew that exp_err would get one.

So why this picture? I did consider some of the smaller pieces, which are very striking on their coloured A4 card. However, I think Monoprint Man has a much more subtle quality to him. There are lots of things I love about this picture. I *love* the curve that traces along his back, created by me rolling the ink on the perspex, and completely independently of the line I then traced for his back. I love how indistinct his body actually is – but how you can find his fingers peeping out from under his arm if you look closely enough. I love the composition – the fact he has no head (!) And he looks great framed[1].

Monoprinting suits my TV attention span in a way that other painting techniques can’t[2] and I certainly intend to get my own roller and perspex to do more of these in the future. There’s a lot of potential.

[1] Framing also hides the scrappy paper edge… :-O
[2] But I’m working on this too 🙂

girliejones – Le Corset Vert

8 Mar


I had a pretty clear idea of what girliejones picture would be from very early on. I was interested in doing a stylised acrylic picture for the art meme, as I’d started one 18 months earlier but never finished it[1]. I thought g-j would like that style and my original notes were:

stylised acrylic painting: still life, involving coffee cup. solid colours – purple/maroon

girliejones likes coffee 🙂 However, a couple of days after the art meme started, girliejones made this post on her knitting blog. Suddenly my brain started sparking all sort of french, slightly Moulin-y Rouge ideas revolving around corsets. I gathered reference material, both from my postcard collection and relevent sources and I started sketching. As seems to be the case with me, early drafts were overly complicated, but I simplified. And then I simplified again[2].

While girliejones draft was completed second only to the draft I did for planeterry, there was a looong period of silence between finishing the draft and starting the actual picture. True, I did manage to finish 4 of the other pieces in that time, but the real truth was I was scared of the acrylics. Well, not scared, but not *comfortable*. It was easy to keep putting it off. However, by the time I did get round to starting, I’d had a bit more experience with acrylics. And while that experience had (very) mixed success, it did start to fix in my mind how they work. I took it slow, ensured each layer was dry before starting the next and everything was OK.

With acrylics you can paint over and over, which makes them more flexible than watercolour. They dry fast too. However, I think I do prefer oils (says she who hasn’t actually used oils in 10 years!!) which don’t dry as fast so you can mix on the canvas, making gradients in tone and shade much easier. However, acrylics work really well for what I was trying to achieve in g-j’s picture – solid shapes of flat colour. Also, painting is much easier on a nice solid board than the canvas paper I used (though it *is* nice paper and I do like its texture). I taped the paper so there’d be a nice white space around the picture (not shown), which was nicely effective but not as pristine as I would’ve liked. Sadly the the paint bled under the edges of the tape so in some bits you can see the ‘history’ of colours I’ve used in the layers underneath. I’m torn between liking this ‘mini’ archaeology and wishing that the edges were neat. My colour mixing is still ad hoc. While I think the colours work well together, they weren’t really chosen by design. I’d like more control of the exact shade I use.

But I’m still really pleased with the picture. I like the texture of the the wall(paper) and think that the stylised curtain has come out well – better than I expected. The wood floor is a bloody masterpiece! I looove the dummy the best, despite the small error in perspective (!) But I’ll let you work out where that is for yourself…

[1]For ‘started’ read: painted a blue square on a piece of cartridge paper and never got any further…
[2] And the final is even simpler again, as even more details were removed.

cassiphone – A Water Nymph

4 Mar


Even though I didn’t know her very well at the time, cassiphone‘s was the first piece that I knew *exactly* what I was going to do. I knew within five minutes.

My notes for cassiphone:
pencil sketch, coloured, V&A

Last April I’d been up to the V&A to sketch with my art class. At first everyone apprehensive about doing it in front of other people, but it turned out to great – really inspiring. Our task for the day had been to use colour pencils to investigate tone and we’d spent the time in the Cast Courts. Statues are great for tone and it’s amazing the difference there is between colour tonal pictures and plain graphite or charcoal. You can get some amazing effects. I drew a very nice lion and the back(side) of some nekkid boy who was blowing a trumpet. I had been planning for months to go back to the V&A by myself to do it again. While I really liked both the pics I’d done before, the lion suffered from me pressing too hard (once you press, you can’t unpress, you can only press harder), and I felt that I’d only began to understand the purple/blue/green/yellow colour combo I’d been using on the boy.

This seemed the perfect opportunity to do it again. cassiphone loves things Roman, so I would go find her a nice Roman statue and draw it in colours! When I got back to the Cast Courts, however, I remembered *Doh!* Medieval!! – perhaps cassiphone would like to make do with something else[1]. After a considered tour of the Courts, I found a series of water nymphs that I really liked. I didn’t know it at the time, but these nymphs were (casts of) the work of Jean Goujon, who carved the nymphs for the Fontaine des Innocents in Paris. (The originals are now in the Louvre).

One of them stood out immediately (frankly, I think it was her sexy stomach), so i did a quick and dirty graphite sketch to warm up – twenty minutes all up. Then I thought I should give another nymph a go and did a (still fairly quick and dirty – and I pressed too hard) sketch in colour. Another 30 minutes gone and I thought I’ve got all the time in the world!! I still liked the first one best so I quickly tried out her head (being properly careful) and decided I time for a lovely lunch (pot o tea and a chocolate brownie 🙂 in the Museum’s Cafe. I then had about 2 and a bit hours before I was scheduled to meet my friend for afternoon tea[2]. I got out my heavy cream (A4) cartridge paper and started. So now I was doing it ‘proper’, there was a lot more thinking, a lighter touch, and it was much much slower! After 2 hours I’d done her outline, but had only filled in the detail to her waist. I texted my friend for a half hour stay, but after that I was not much further, and I really needed a break anyway. So I finished her feet and legs at home. Luckily my camera takes photos because I totally didn’t *think* about taking my camera, which was stooopid of me. All in all this visit was a good lesson for me of the merits of quick n dirty, versus the payoff you do get when you draw proper.

I *love* this picture. I love the colours and think I used the combination of purple/blue/yellow/green much better than in my original nekkid boy. I’ve tried other colour combos, but nothing seems to really match it. I do love drawing – better than painting but that may just be practise. And mostly I love drawing at the V&A. It is still a most excellent experience and I should go back again 🙂

[1] Actually when I went off to have my lovely lunch, I found the Roman section, but I still like what I’d picked best. I also found a tiny but fascinating display on Maurice Sendak and Beatrix Potter, but that’s another story entirely.

[2] For more tea and brownies, perhaps?? Actually we went straight for the wine 🙂