So, I once titled an artwork, Remember Where You Came From, But Always Know Where You’re Going (or something to that effect). It’s the knowing where you’re going that can get difficult, especially when life throws in a wrench or two. So when things got hairy for me at the beginning the year, I started casting around, looking for anchors. I didn’t find any, so way back in February, I purchased a big beautiful analogue watch with working compass built in. I figured that, no matter how mixed up I might feel, at the very least I could always get an exact reading on my physical direction. It wasn’t exactly what I was after, but maybe the symbolism would work—or not…
But now, here I am, back at it again (finally!). Before I left off creating art altogether, I was going places with printing on gelatin, but it’s still WAY to hot to cook up a new one (I hate waste), so I’ve been trying other ways to create the same intriguing layers, and, WhOO! coloured pencil frottage over linocuts, cork, and and an old cutting board seem to fit the bill. These are works done in a day, very small, on mulberry paper which is very delicate. I used Prismacolor Sticks for the most part as they have a nice large flat surface, but the colours are limited, so I also used some regular Prisma’s and scribbled gently.
If some of these designs look vaguely familiar—they are. I’m reusing some of my linocuts. One of the reasons I don’t edition plates is that I never know when I’ll be done. With editions, you set a limit at the outset, print off your batch, and (if you’re being honest) destroy your plate. I can’t imagine knowing at the outset how many I would want. But when it comes to monoprints (which these are) it all of that becomes moot, as a monoprint is one-of-a-kind. And, while I carved these plates last year, I don’t feel anywhere close to ‘finished’ with them, especially now that I’ve discovered that a new technique, idea, treatment, etc. may fly in from any direction whatsoever. I actually love playing with variation through repetitions.
In this case, I was just searching through the materials I had at hand, and for something I could accomplish in a day, but when I look at these, I can see all the abstract atc’s I worked on in pencils (I actually have quite a stack), and all the knowledge of layering from my coloured pencil works, and the reworking and overprinting of relief elements on gelatin, all coming together. A synergy, of everything I’ve done thus far.
And I still don’t know where I’m going next, and that’s a good thing.
Technical Stuff: Frottage (at least in the art world (wipe that smirk off your face)) means to rub something across a textured surface to make an impression. In this case the coloured pencil. Most of these had a first layer done over a well used cutting board which created a nice random fill. A large cork coaster adding interesting rough grain, and then it I used my linocuts for top layers and accents. Mulberry paper is very soft, so it was relatively slow (but mesmerizing) process, as I needed to avoid ripping it. Unlike gelatin printmaking, pencil frottage gives the artist a huge amount of control, as layers are created slowly over a long period of time.
For the green one, at each layer, I would fill a small area, and then shift the orientation of the paper.The accent features/lines are a combination of relief/frottage and drawing, one echoing the other.
This was fun, and I’ll do it again, and again, and then try to resist making another frottage joke, really.