I’m struggling with a title for this post. Perhaps by the end of this post you have a better suggestion, let me know.
The thing is, and I’m sure many other printmakers who work with collagraphs come across the same thing, many people have often remarked that collagraph plates are a work of art in themselves – print or no print taken from them …. well, not strictly true. The plate does need to be broken in with ink … but … once inked up and printed, the addition of colour changes the perception of the plate.
So … not long ago, a fellow Australian printmaker, Jennifer Nieuewenhof posted a video by another artist who makes textured paintings using what are essentially the same techniques I use to make a collagraph plate … except … he doesn’t print from his creations, he paints them using acrylics.
I started experimenting. I made some new collagraph plates, but not for printing. This time I followed the artist’s painting techniques with some success. When I was in Dublin this last week I gave my mother a demonstration – she does a lot of textural painting. Here is the result.
Textured painting? Collagraph?
It is no huge work of art but it was only meant to be a demonstration piece using a variety of materials to test their properties.
Let’s take a closer look …
Heavy moulding pastes with netting, muslin and seed head
In this corner of the plate I used Daler Rowney Heavy Modelling Gel into which I pushed netting (of the type you get your citrus fruit in) and to stick a head of seeds to the plate.
Lower down I used another type of heavy paste made by Liquitext to push and manipulate a small piece of muslin and some dry brushing to create random brush strokes.
Texture paste with leaf and muslin impressions
The next image shows the bottom right hand corner where I used decorators filler (Pollyfilla) that I spread out with a palette knife and then pressed leaves into it while it was still wet as well as some muslin (but this time I removed them so only the impression was left), oh and I found some kind of pastry cutter to press into the paste.
Wood filler with dry brushing, impressions and drawing
Wood filler with tissue paper impression and fern frond pasted onto the plate
The next two images show how I used wood filler. This one was particularly gritty and heavy, not all of them are. I pressed another seed head into it and removed it, drew into it, pressed bubble wrap into it and dry brushed the surface of the first one.
On the second one I pressed tissue paper and lifted it and pressed a fern frond into it and left it there.
Once everything was dry I gave the whole ‘plate’ two coats of gesso to make the whole surface white. For this stage in the process I used a hair dryer to speed things up as I didn’t have a huge amount of time. It wasn’t entirely successful for the Daler Rowney and Liquitex pastes but I’ll go into that later.
Once the gesso was dry I gave the surface a coat of varnish to seal it before applying the first colour. I started with yellow and yellow ochre, a small blob of each and lots of water rubbing it in across the surface. once the surface was completely covered in colour I took a rag and wiped it back, dried it and then sealed it again.
I then repeated the process with the addition of a couple of reds and then blue and purple, Each layer of colour is sealed with varnish according to the way the artist (whose name escapes me just now) showed in his video.
I didn’t adhere to that sealing part very strictly due to time constraints on this occasion and previous occasions and as a consequence the surface did have a tendency to get a bit sticky so I do intend to do this more slowly over a period of days rather then hours.
I finished off with a layer of gold and copper. I really like the use of iridescent media so I want to explore this further.
The whole process is exactly the same process as that for collagraphs except that instead of applying ink to the plate, paint is used with layers of varnish in between each application so to me it is half collagraph and half painting. What would you call this?