Art, Feedback from tutors, MMT - Assignments, MMT - Part 4 - Assignment 4, MMT - Part 4 - Mono and collatype printing

Part 4 – Reflecting on Feedback

I was hoping to move quickly onto the final part of MMT but I’m not finding it easy decide what to take forward from what I have done so far and my latest feedback on Part 4 has sent me into even more confusion.

Faye’s immediate comments were very positive, far more so than my own assessment of what I’d done and therein lies my problem.

“That said, once again, you failed to recognise successes enough and drive even the tiniest idea further”

What is going on in my brain, am I too focused on completing the exercises just driving forward just to get it done? Is the statement true? What ideas am I missing and why do I feel that I’m doing plenty.  Am I working hard but in the wrong direction? or on the wrong things?

During the early parts of MMT I did take my ideas further but I had to stop experimenting or I would never have got further than ‘joining’. But even at this stage my tutor didn’t think I was experimenting enough. I don’t want to get into a review of the course materials but I had felt at that point that I’d gone far further than the course brief had required.

“….but you should now be at the stage where you see the potential in your ideas and WANT to see how they might be investigated further”

I feel trapped, stuck in the ‘how do I know (recognise) what I don’t know?’ I’ve tried to find articles, teachings or explanations of how to assess what is ‘good’ and what is ‘bad’. There are practical explanations where you look at balance, conflict, contrast based on specific criterian. Then there are more emotional guidelines where you are guided by feelings of interest, instinct and passion.

Most of MMT has left me empty. Apart from some of the early macabre folded papers and the snapped plaster casts nothing I’ve done has made me feel anything much more than disappointed. I haven’t wanted to see then taken any further.

At this precise moment I feel like I’m begging for approval to carry on as I am, I want someone to pat me on the head and say ‘there, there it’s all okay, you’re brilliant, don’t worry’ and I’ve got a sneaking suspicion we’ve been here before. For heaven’s sake why can’t I get over this.

“Extract strengths more and try to become aware of elements that really work”

Is it because it’s a fact that nothing in MMT has raised any passion or interest in me? Or is it because I don’t have confidence in my skills and abilities to take these samples any further. What am I failing to see here?

“I definitely, definitely want to see a range of messy, free, uninhibited samples, but I hope also to see even just a few pieces that show this recognition and investigation”

This feels to me just a little bit unfair, I have lots more work but I have been working towards only sending a selection of my ‘best’ work to my tutor. The last time I sent everything it was such a huge amount that I still haven’t received it back from my tutor and that was 3 assignments ago.

Is it me then? Am I failing to show/demonstrate what I’ve done? Do I need to streamline my approach, focus on some small part of each sample and work in a linear way from sample 1, building on a single attribute and testing that?

Could it be that I’m following the Stages as laid out too robotically? At Stage 2 (sampling) I make lots of samples and record (probably not enough) the outcomes and then move onto Stage 4 – Sorting. Maybe I’m just not reading, or ‘getting’ this module?

This is another example of me not understanding the instructions:

“It would be great to see you explore combining other line qualities into your prints (stitch, collage, pen etc)”

The last intruction in Part 4, exercise 3 – the final one says ‘Once you’ve printed with your first block, record what you’ve learned and move on to making the next until you’ve printed with four collage blocks. If you’re feeling confident, consider using any of the monoprinting techniques to enhance these final collage block prints’. In Stage 3, clearly after the making of the samples it asks you to consider ideas that you may want to develop further. It doesn’t say do them.

I am already over the alocated time for this whole module and I still have another final part to complete and that’s with the added presure of the final Level 1 deadline breathing down my neck and a whole 3rd module still to do. Am I moaning and making platitudes or am I really not up to this.

“…..or see the value of how they look in a digital format”

This is something I always do, maybe less that this stage but cutting, chopping and changing/editing my work using my iPhone and iPad is instinctive but maybe this time Ive been guilty of hiding this work on my Instagram feed and not printing out the results or adding the results to my blog.

As you might have gathered, I really feel a little bit lost at the moment. I don’t know how to review my work with an impassive, professional eye. I do not know how to prioritise what I have to do.

I do feel like I’m pushing myself out of my comfort zone, I’ve used materials and techniques that I never would have considered  before and I’ve created a workroom full of samples but is that enough? Do I have the academic, artistic brain chemistry to recognise and develop the potential of any of my work?

Will the penny ever drop?

“You definitely can do this Sally, you just need the penny to drop about recognising your strengths and you will be away”

At this point I just feel like giving it all up. I feel like I have followed the course as it’s laid out and that within me I have learnt anything about how to approach my work and how to take it further. The feedback on my first project is the same as the last.

Am I that irritating contestant on one of those challenge/bake off/masterchef type programs that just isn’t listening? Have I totally missed the point of this module all together? Am I trying to be a general when I’m clearly only foot soldier material?

Art, MMT - Assignments, MMT - Part 4 - Assignment 4, MMT - Part 4 - Mono and collatype printing, Textiles 1 - Mixed Media for Textiles

MMT – Part 4 – Assignment 4

It’s been during this module, Mixed Media for Textiles that I’ve started being far more selective about what I send off to my tutor. My natural desire is to include everything, just in case I’ve missed a gem when sorting and selecting. I knew that I needed to improve my skills in selection and to accept that, even the honed down amount of work I am sending is still a substantial piece of work.

These are the pieces that I’ve chosen and I have displayed them in a sketchbook. They are only tagged into the book and not stuck down so that both sides of the prints can be viewed.

Monoprint with Mark Making

Monoprinting with aluminium foil as a mark making tool

Water colour drawn monoprints

Oil paint drawn monoprints

Single layered stencil monoprints

Light over dark layered stencil monoprints

Multiple Layer Stencil Monoprint

Block Collage Print

Silicon block print

Photograph Collage Print

Paper and cord collatype print

Sticker collage prints

Leaf Skeleton Collatyte Print

Art, MMT - Assignments, MMT - Part 4 - Mono and collatype printing, MMT - Pt4 - Pj2 - Ex3 - Collatype Collage Print, MMT - Pt4 - Project 2 - Collatype Printing

MMT – Pt4 – Pj2 – Ex3 – Collatype Collage Print – Part 3

I went back to simply practising and testing the collage block technique for the final 4 prints.

What worked:

  • Rubbing away the paint before making the print
  • Using collage items with a similar height
  • Using a rolling pin to emulate the pressure of a printing press

What didn’t work:

  • The quality of the final prints was murky
  • The images weren’t very interesting

It was the print made with pre-cut foam pieces that made the best quality print and I would be tempted to use foam sheets if I ever make a collage print again.

What I’ve learnt:

  • Use a sealant with good smooth coverage
  • The nicest and prettiest items don’t always make the best prints
  • Testing the print with a tracing paper rubbing is a useful test of the end result
  • Overprinting and layering how I make the best prints.

Art, MMT - Part 4 - Mono and collatype printing, MMT - Pt4 - Pj2 - Ex3 - Collatype Collage Print, MMT - Pt4 - Project 2 - Collatype Printing, Textiles 1 - Mixed Media for Textiles

MMT – Pt4 – Pj2 – Ex3 – Collatype Collage Print – Part 2

The collage print of the Moroccan door looked good once it had dried and I was quite eager to print with it.

How much better does the print look the right way round, I thought I might just give it one more go. I wasn’t happy with the twisted plastic bag image either. I know I should have worked from an actual photocopy of the image and cut out the separate elements and used these as templates rather than just randomly cutting out papers in a vague approximation of the actual shape.

I also hadn’t tested using Polyfilla on the collage so I added some detail with that and the silicone.

Looks okay, you wait till you see the abomination that was the print and the print from the print ( my attempt to get a print the right way round.

In the end I was satisfied with some of the earlier prints and like before I was happiest with the collage board.

Art, MMT - Part 4 - Mono and collatype printing, MMT - Pt4 - Pj2 - Ex2 - Polyfilla Block, MMT - Pt4 - Project 2 - Collatype Printing, Textiles 1 - Mixed Media for Textiles

MMT – Pt4 – Pj2 – Ex2 – Polyfilla Block.

I did kind of rush this exercise. I wasn’t looking forward to using The Polyfilla and I found the smell of the transparent sealant really uncomfortable. I can think of better ways to make print blocks and it’ll be a while before I do this again.

It’s very hard to continue working at something you don’t like but there’s great value to doing this occasionally; it keeps you fresh and open to new ideas, even if in the end you don’t like them.

The resulting prints were okay and I’d probably used them cut down for adding details to other printing projects so not all was lost.

Art, MMT - Part 4 - Mono and collatype printing, MMT - Pt4 - Pj2 - Ex3 - Collatype Collage Print, MMT - Pt4 - Project 2 - Collatype Printing, Textiles 1 - Mixed Media for Textiles

MMT – Pt4 – Pj2 – Ex3 – Collatype Collage Print – Part 1 – Making the board

I was away from my workroom on this day and I didn’t want to miss a days working but didn’t think it was appropriate to use polyfilla and smelly sealant in a village hall.

So I jumped ahead a bit and started working on the collage print.

As you look at my sketchbook pages please note the return of my nemesis The Reverse Print!

Building the print block

What went well:

  • I enjoyed doing the research
  • Good selection of papers and cards
  • Interesting source material

What didn’t work

  • It’s back to front
  • Composition not quite balanced between texture and detail
  • Labour intensive
Art, MMT - Part 4 - Mono and collatype printing, MMT - Pt4 - Pj2 - Ex1 - Create a collage block, MMT - Pt4 - Project 2 - Collatype Printing, Textiles 1 - Mixed Media for Textiles

MMT – Pt4 – Pj2 – Ex1 – Create a collage block

What I liked:

  • Making the block
  • How the block looked before adding the paint

What I didn’t like:

  • The sticky glue needed to stick the bits down
  • The smell of the varnish used to seal the block
  • The way the paint went all over the place
  • The prints.

What I would do differently:

  • Use a better sealant ( I used a spray varnish which didn’t provide enough coverage)
  • Make the elements the same height

I tried printing on all sorts of papers with all sorts of mediums and the only bit I vaguely like is the paint battered block with bits of extra ephemera. Don’t ask where they came from or how they got onto the board, all I can say is I was bored, frustrated and tired!

Art, MMT - Part 4 - Mono and collatype printing, MMT - Pt4 - Project 2 - Collatype Printing, MMT - Research, Textiles 1 - Mixed Media for Textiles

MMT – Pt4- Pj2 – Collatype Printing – Research

This is going to be tricky (I’m not always such a pessimist, I promise). I don’t have a huge amount of time, I don’t want to spend any money and I don’t like polyfilla.

I was going to have to rely on good source material and texture.

Art, MMT - Part 4 - Mono and collatype printing, MMT - Pt4 - Pj1 - Ex4 - Working with stencils, MMT - Pt4 - Project 1 - Monoprinting, Textiles 1 - Mixed Media for Textiles

MMT – Pt4 – Pj1 – Ex4 – Working with stencils

This was my most successful foray into print making, I had already found my self adding items to printing plates to act as resists and I love the drama created by having pronounced negative spaces.

The majority of the prints I made for this exercise were done on the Japanese calligraphy paper with the contrasting sides. The paper is called Hanshi and is made from mulberry pulp, it’s not the cheapest, I’d forgotten that because I’d had it such a long time, replacing it might have to wait!

Having 2 sides with different absorbency qualities was an advantage, it also becomes transparent without ripping too easily, this had the added delight of allowing you to see the print as it was developing in front of your eyes.

Wanting to develop more interesting compositions I experimented with some fabric.

At this stage my brain was hurting; I was building very interesting paint plates but that wasn’t always translating well into print.

Overlaps and lace quickly lost the complex texture and details. The prints looked like they were base layers not completed compositions. I was learning that selection and placement was important and had to be viewed as as a means to an end not as an artistic, aesthetic artwork in its own right.

The answer? Press harder!

Or, add more layers.

Now I was getting somewhere, I was able to print light over dark.

And then really mix up the stencils to create large resist areas for the quiet and small areas of intense detail for the noise to create more dynamic compositions.

I even had a play with printing on fabric and the dried out wet wipes that I’d used to clean the printing plate, they just love to be printed on.

At this stage I went back and had another look at Making Your Mark a book by Claire Benn and Leslie Morgan, they are textile artists and when printing they use thickened dye. I’ve had some Jacquard dye thickener hanging around for ages (was this yours Anne?) and I thought now might be a good time to use it. I mixed up some black procion dye and used it for a top layer which looked like this.

But before the black layer I added a red and yellow layer and in one case I did some back drawing.

The process was quite frenzied, I have a tendency to work like this when a process really grabs me. I used blank sheets, pre-printed and dried sheets, wet wipes but not fabric which I now wish I had.

My sketchbook page doesn’t really express how much I enjoyed this printing session.

I really love these specific prints that came out of this session, they have a fractal quality, not in the tessellating way but in the way that clouds, trees and the works of Jackson Pollack are similar when viewed in their entirety or up close in detail.

They could be abstract landscapes or autumn leaves captured in puddles.

Art, MMT - Part 4 - Mono and collatype printing, MMT - Pt4 - Pj1 - Ex3 - Back Drawing, MMT - Pt4 - Project 1 - Monoprinting, Textiles 1 - Mixed Media for Textiles

MMT – Pt4 – Pj1 – Ex3 – Back Drawing

I’d watched quite a few videos on making back drawing prints and was quite looking forward to this exercise.

I was growing more confident and start to experiment with different mediums, like Brusho and surfaces.

I used a magazine photograph to ‘trace’ this image of a highland cattle. And then some interesting rooftops.

It’s not best practise to use someone else’s images in your work and with this part of MMT I wanted to take heed of my tutor’s advice and to dip in and out of research during my creative process, not just at the start.

So, I took a deep breath and looked at a copy of Cloth Paper Scissors for some inspiration on drawing.

There were 2 good articles, one by Carla Sonheimand one by Carrie Bloomston.

Now things started to get interesting, I gave in and bought some new paint, the oil based printing ink was very expensive and I just couldn’t bear the idea of using terps so I bought some water based ink paint. It still has a strange smell but it does stay wetter for longer.

This was when I discovered a Japanese calligraphy paper that I’d bought a good while ago. It has a very smooth, not very absorbent side and a slightly rough and absorbent side. The paper often when almost translucent when printed and the image could be seen, with some interesting differences from both sides.

My prints were still coming out quite tight and not very expressive even when I made more deliberate circles.

I liked the circles so I continued with that theme but with a more loose hand, experimenting with both sides of the paper and varying amounts of paint.

The results have far more energy, the circles expand and contract across the page.

There was plenty of paint left on the plate so I was able to do some ‘negatives’ with the more absorbent side of the paper.

The technique also worked well when translated to fabric. I wasn’t so happy with my colour choice here, I don’t really know why the blue was so much better. Could it be because the pebble shapes and the blue create a seaside narrative?