Up the garden path...
I started working on these two summer garden compositions back in January. It's May now and they are still not complete but very close. These are probably the most complex monotypes I've ever worked on and I'm inventing new methods to bring them about. I do hope it's worth it! I'm too close to them at the moment to judge but I know I've learnt a lot!
These first three photos show details of one composition. There will be collaged flowers over the foreground grasses. In my last post, I showed how I printed these onto cut out paper shapes. When I'm sure of the colours and positions, I'll glue them down permanently. Visitors to my recent open studio were fascinated by them and were able to get a close look whilst they were loose.
The video (below) shows the making of my second composition which has followed a different path. There are many layers of colour created by wiping away ink or printing through paper stencils. I gave a lot of though to the colour values for each layer to keep the sense of light falling across the scene. By using gradients of colour I can have them changing gradually from warm (yellow/orange/red) to cool (purple/blue/grey/green)
The wiping away for the distant trees gives a softer, more impressionistic look. I'm wondering if I could do whole pieces in this way. The pale trees have a misty morning quality to them - mist is a gift to artists and photographers in the way it simplifies and lightens shapes. The large tree in leaf (detail below) is a new way of working for me. The wiping away is like a kind of carving. If you like this look, you'll love the animal monotypes of Emerson Mayes. It's a well known way of working in monotype but I just haven't seen the right application for me until now. (It also takes ages, wiping away all the background ink!)
The stenciled shapes are obviously very crisp in the foreground - these differences in the hardness and softness of the edge are a bit like focusing a camera in one area of a scene, with a narrow depth of field, and allowing other areas to blur out of focus.
I'll be revealing the finished originals in my next blog post. They will be offered for sale initially to my email subscribers so sign up now (in the footer below) if you want to get a notification of when they're ready. If you like the look of them, you may also be interested in this original that's available to purchase now:
Alongside working on the garden compositions, I've continued my experiments with acrylic paint. I was encouraged by the sale of one of my little seascape paintings at my recent open studio.
I'm drawn to mixed media collage as a medium and have been thinking about the work of author/illustrator Eric Carle, famous for the popular children's book "The Hungry Caterpillar". He wrote and illustrated many other animal books which have a lively collage style.
The way I work with stencils in print is a close cousin of collage and I could have a lot of fun with this medium. I want to keep things light and playful at the moment so I've been creating collage papers using a variety of painting methods and tools. With leftover paint, I quickly created a few loose backgrounds.
SInce I made my bird series a couple of years ago, I've wanted to pursue the idea with animals. These are merely tests but I hope to produce some finished pieces possibly for new greetings card designs
I think it's really important as in artist to keep experimenting and finding joy in what you do. This will translate into vitality in the work. As professional artist with a successful "formula" there's always the temptation to produce more of the same. But this, I believe, is the end of inspiration and the beginning of routine "work". I find I'm most excited when I'm playing with materials and finding new ways. Printmaking, and monotype in particular, has always done that for me, but now I feel the need to reach for a new medium and enjoy the exciting learning and experimenting stage.
I have barely touched paint apart from decorating my home since I was at art school 27 years ago! I've bought some new things and resurrected some old ones - yes I have some System 3 acrylic paint from my art school days that's still fluid!
When I made the collage papers, I had no particular aim in mind other than working in layers using different mark-making tools. I don't like to be limited to a brush so I used fingers, sticks, sponges, spray cans, card and bottles. Some of the results reminded me of African animals so it seemed a logical next step to cut out theses shapes and glue them onto a suitable background.
They're not realistic or finished in any way but I like the random positioning of the patterns on the animals - it seems less forced than attempting to copy a particular pattern and get things in exactly the right place. This way serendipity has a say in the outcome.
So what do you think? More collaged animals? Let me know if the comments below.