Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Artistic Explorations: Relief Printmaking (2)

Next year Jaap is planning to do a solo circumnavigation around the house by kayak, paddling down the River Dee to Aberdeen, following the coastline to Edinburgh, then take various rivers, canals and (sea)lakes via Fort William to Inverness and then make his way along the Moray and Aberdeenshire coast back home.

For his birthday in November I had plenty of ideas what to give him. The most important item of course was a GPS tracker so I know exactly where he is during this expedition! But I also wanted to give him something personal in the form of a card or print.

Inspiration came from one of the photos I took of him in 2013 while kayaking around Soay, an island next to Isle of Skye.

Jaap kayaking along coastline of Isle of Skye ©Fenfolio2013

The initial image was cropped into a square format and reversed in Photoshop so that the composition of the print is the same as the photo. I then traced the outlines of the mountains and kayaker. As I had plenty of soft lino and block printing ink available I wanted to create a reductive lino print. This is a process where all colours are being developed from the same block. For each colour layer more material is being removed from the block. Each color is then printed on top of the previous.Unfortunately I didn't have time to take photos of each printed stage as I was really working on a tight deadline to have it ready on his birthday!

For the best results a printing press (for relief printing) is being used but as I don't have one at home and didn't have time to go into town to print at Peacock Visual Arts I decided to try it just by hand. To register the block correctly during each printing process I first made a registration board (from mountboard and pieces of card) so I could align paper and block in the same way each time.

My work process:
1. I first took away the hull of the kayak and sleeve and printed in light blue. This revealed the white areas.
2. The sky was removed and some areas in the water. Then I printed in light purple. This revealed the sky and some water ripples in the back. The top of the hull in light blue is a very lucky error as I forgot to take away that area. It was created due to a slight misalignment while burnishing by hand!
3. The distant mountains and some other areas in the water were removed. It was then printed in dark blue. This revealed the light purple areas.
4. I removed more areas near the horizon and some ripples in the foreground. This revealed the dark blue.
5. During the last stage I removed most of the water that was left, the paddle shaft and spraydeck. Then I printed in orange to reveal top of kayak, buoyancy aid, glove, hat, paddle blade and some ripples.

This is the final result:

Reductive linocut print in 6 colours ©Fenfolio2015

Because 5 colours (except white) were placed on top of eachother it was slightly darker than I planned for. I was also not very happy with the grainy effect due to the burnishing by hand only. After I took a photo of the print I cleaned it in Photoshop and replaced the colours into more vibrant ones which Jaap prefers.

This is the result:

Photoshopped version of reductive linocut print ©Fenfolio2015

Finally, I manipulated a bit further as I wanted to have a more generic design that could suit any kayaker. The image was changed into greyscale and a posterize filter was applied. This design will be used as a Christmas card for all our kayak friends!

Photoshopped version of linocut in greyscale ©Fenfolio2015

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