Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Old ideas, new ways

Fall always seems like a new year begins. I know January is the real new year, but I guess I'm still operating on an internal school year calendar. New sweater, new pencils, new classes, new outlook. I'm cleaning out the studio and making piles of what I want to toss, donate or keep. Even before I unearthed my screenprinting supplies, I had been thinking about printing. It has always been one of my favorite ways of making art, but I haven't done any printing for a long time, and those thoughts might even have been part of my motivation for the cleanup and organizing. I knew I had "stuff"—just didn't know how much and how viable it was. My jars of screen print ink were dried out, but otherwise I was in pretty good shape. Off to the art store for ink. I also treated myself to a new knife, because the new ones always seem like they ought to be better than anything in my old collection, and a cute "little" squeegee, because I am thinking about little prints. I am equipped now for the self-taught workshop I am planning for myself. I plan to take a couple of classes this year, from good, famous teachers, but I find that periodically I like to see what I can learn by noodling around on my own for a few days. 

I made a little sketch of a pomegranate, using a photo I took in Spain several years ago for inspiration. 

Then I made a screen. There are lots of ways to create screens. My favorite is using knife-cut, adherable stencil film. I like it because it makes really durable, permanent screens. The edges are sharp and crisp and it does not have the bland perfection of a photo screen, but does have a personal, hand-cut quality to the line. My new knife is a splendid tool for the job of cutting the stencil. 

Screen done and ready to print. 

Using black ink I printed several prints on lightweight canvas drill. See what I mean about crisp edges? (Oops, little bobble on that lower leaf...)

So now I had some prints to play with. 

I painted this one, using Inktense watercolor blocks. 

Too heavy handed, I think. The blue background isn't pretty. I have nothing to lose so I tried removing some of the color.

Better, but the blue is still just yuck. 

I tried a paler, more watery one. This print is a little mushy, because the screen moved ever so slightly, but it's not a lost cause. 

How would some visual texture work? I dug out some stamps and freezer paper to cut a mask and added a new layer of printing. 

I think this is promising. I am thinking on this one...

Permanent pen dots for this one.

These, you understand, are small experiments, not finished work, and totally expendable. I am trying out some new-to-me ways of working with prints on fabric. This is quite satisfying—even the part of finding out what I don't like. I'll keep fiddling and post what I like. I'm wondering how I might combine screenprinting with some of my other favorite techniques, other fabrics, stitching...