Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Progress happens slowly

I made progress on the weekend wth the prints for the Sydney Contemporary. By Saturday evening I had etched a new plate, inked it and printed it, and also done a proof of the letterpress over the top.

The revised plate before printing.

A small detail of the letterpress work.  After getting it all together, I printed, and found this rogue "u"! It was hiding in the tray of type, in the "u" section and it snuck in. So it was removed and replaced with the correct looking letter.

Don't worry about the messy double print - I proofed on the proofing press, then later on popped the type block into the Lightning Jobber and decided to just over print without ink to see how well try first attempt at registration worked - kind of sort, but not quite!

At first I had the test block left-aligned, leaving a ragged right edge.  Given the imagery is so graphic, a square within a square, the loose right edge worried me.

So it was back to the drawing board and I rearranged the type and the letters so that the text block was more fully justified. Interesting process, but it felt so much better.

The re-arragned type.

I did four proofs and got the registration pretty good on all of them - this was the worst; the type bled over the edge of the etching a bit. It still looked OK as a whole tho.

 By Saturday night I could look at the work as an image, and my heart sank.  After all that planning and work I thought I'd have to start all over again - it felt too obvious, and too flat.  There was no life in it, no interest.  Not much fun at all.

So it was back to the studio on Sunday desperately trying to work out how to rescue it - whilst doing things like fiddle with paper and write on garden stakes. I was hoping that sometimes things work out better if you distract yourself.

I needed another element, and Barry and I talked about embossing - where, what sort of imagery. how much, the same imagery for all four pieces or different for each one?  I had also been thinking about  a splash of red somehow - but again, where, how, why?

I could come up with three marks the would work for three images - they made sense, maintained the integrity of the pieces; and added to the story. But I was stumped by the fourth.

The one that stumped me was the one about gender equality. The etched imagery pretty much says it all so what could I add as a mark that made sense?

I was thinking about the female symbol - the circle with the down stroke and the cross (Venus). Let me tell you that looked way too obvious and jarring.

I wondered about a simple dot/circle and tried to see how I could make one well (and reproduce it). I think the top two are gouache within a template; the bottom ones are a rubber/eraser on the end of a pencil dipped in gouache.

But in the end it looked too ugly and distracting.

The idea I was pondering was gender neutrality - that by removing the Mars and Venus elements of the symbol, we find ourselves thinking about equality and not difference.  My sense was that the gender symbols are mostly outlines of circles (not filled in circles) and so I began to see if I could do that somehow.  I traced around the template with a brush - very wobbly - and then Barry suggested some plastic tubing.  I went to the drawer to find some and came across the perfect dipping tool - an ink cartridge for a parallel pen and dipped away. I was onto something.

And then I placed it on proof print and thought - Yes! That is the mark I want!

And so we have a way forward...


  1. Replies
    1. It's almost there Mo - I think maybe smaller, and positioned slightly differently, and then I will be happier...altho I am still tossing up between two lines and one on one of them! Laugh. Now ell.


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