Monday, July 19, 2010


POPPY, detail, monotype print 10" X 12" (ghost)

I finally decided it was time to stop putting it off and break in Big Blue--my 30 year-old, homemade etching press. I have over the last few weeks picked up a couple of plexiglass sheets from the hardware store; some sample bottles of Akua Color monoprint/water-based inks/one inexpensive brayer and dug around my cupboards for some stray printmaking papers.

I have lots of flowers blooming in the garden beds so a quick sketch on a sheet of paper and I covered the drawing with the sheet of plexiglass and using mostly brushes, painted the colors on the plate. It happened in stages: first the red petals; then the black flag of the center and some of the green buds/seedpods/then back in again with more color here or there, finishing with tracing my drawing in black ink with a brush on the plate.

I ran the plate each time face up on the bed of the press, laying down the paper on top; covering it with blankets and running it through the rollers. I had three sheets. Rives BFK Dry; Rives LW dry; rives LW damp. The last two sheets are ghost prints--printed after most of the ink was taken up by the first sheet.

Akua color is supposed to work better on dry paper but I got uneven coverage and very splotchy color instead. My best print is the third run on damp paper. The colors are too soft and faded--this should be a vermillion poppy that should stand out from 100yds instead of being so soft/muted. I will probably have to play with papers and pressure/blankets to get the right pressure.

I wanted a painterly approach. But I'd have ended up with something more lively and with more vibrant color if I had just stuck to watercolor and painted it. It will take me a while to get a hang of these new colors--they're honey-like in consistency--and didn't like to be brushed onto plexi.

Top to bottom: 1st Impression (dry paper); ghost print on damp paper;ghost print on dry paper.

So while I'm not really happy with how these turned out (I'll probably overpaint them in watercolor to see if I can salvage anything) but I'm really happy to have used the press, broken the ice and gotten some studio time in.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Andrew.
    Nice print. I like the design. The finished one from your most recent post looks great. I'm sure your mother will be thrilled.

    I've made quite a few monotypes with the Akua Kolors the past few months. I've found it's a nice break from the planning that usually goes into a print. I love the inks but they take some getting used to as I've had the same experience with the colors looking washed out. It seems like multiple impressions of thin ink work much better to intensify the color when printing with a baren and sometimes on a press. It has taken a lot of experimenting to get it the right consistency on a press with one impression. Seems like what works best is to use it straight out of the bottle with no modifiers and start with a thin coat and then carefully apply additional thin layers of ink with a soft fan brush. It wants to bead up on the plexi but once you can finesse that first thin layer down additional ink adheres better. Hopefully that makes sense and might be a help. I need to find a better way to explain it as I'm teaching a workshop in September on monotypes with Akua Kolor. Yikes.
    Take Care,