It is not until I experimented with this exercise that I started to really understand mono printing and it’s benefits. I felt that the only way to grasp this technique was by trial and error. I was drawn by Henry Matisse works but until this point in the course I hadn’t studied or made connections on why? What is it about his work that I find so interesting? What are the similarities in my work?. I have always enjoyed Henry Matisse works; the vibrant colours is the obvious connection. Looking at his work in more detail it is not just his interest in vibrant colour but his ability to simplify shapes and forms resulting in an abstract shape. When doing mono printing I felt it was very childlike and naive. My work has been described as childlike and naive so usually I try to go in a different direction to avoid that. It is not until doing this exercise that I have realised that I should let go of my “hang ups” and insecurities of my work being to simple, childlike,or naive. That was exactly what Matisse was aiming for so I almost feel like Matisse gave me permission to be “me” in my art.
Matisse described his latter work when doing cut outs as going back to basics, drawing with scissors, making collages by simplifying his subjects. Another connection my work has with Matisse is that I am also interested in the female form and faces. I don’t really know why apart from the fact that I find them beautiful.
Above: Henry Matisse cut out work fascinates me. I enjoy the vibrant colours and the way he transforms his subjects into simple forms resulting into abstract art. I also enjoy how some of his cut outs become big jigsaw puzzles.
So once I realised where my inspiration came from and what I was influenced by I embraced this exercise and used the image above ‘blue nudes’ to inspire me. I decided that I was going to investigate the female form and find ways of simplifying them. I was also inspired by a poem I read, I realised that my tutor had advised me to focus on words rather than quotes or poems but This poem was playing in my mind while doing this work.
This poem made me reflect on my thoughts about periods and femail forms. In my generation we hid anything that had to do with periods. Even when going to buy sanitary towels in my house we would call them “dudas” ‘can you buy me some dudas?’. We also used to hide our bodies and curves, embarrassed of them (very different to girls today who embrace their curves and bums). It sounds so ridiculous now! When working with young women and even when period poverty is something that is talked about on a day to day bases. I still jump when I hear adverts on the tv talking about periods openly. what does that say about me?. Most importantly I think textiles and art has had a lot to do with these subjects not being taboo any more. I think Tracey Emin was one of the first textiles artist to touch on subjects like female sexuality in her work but of course there are many others. I came across Erin.M.Riley who investigates internet culture through the historic art of weaving. She studies her body through selfies and weaves. She also weaves photographs that are sent to her via snapchat. I am fascinated by the contrast and how Erin has merged the tradicional method of weaving and a modern medium such as snapchat. It is this combination that makes Erin.M.Riley’s work so contemporary while also touching on subjects like women’s femininity and sexuality today. Her weaves range in scale and are very evocative.
So looking at these works have made me question my work and realise it is time to let go of my generation hang ups which are still influencing my art and although I may question some of the boldness of Erin.M.Riley I also respect and admire her honesty in her work. So with all of the above in mind I started to experiment with cut outs/stencils and mono printing.
Cutting out a drawing that I made of a female body I experimented with black poster paint. I placed my cut out stencil of my lady on top of my glass plate and rolled black paint all over it, then I took the stencil off and placed cartridge paper over it. I was interested in the simple lines and the marks that I achieved. It is true that there is smudges that can not be predicted or avoided but this gives the sample more interest. I enjoyed the results of the ghost print more than the first print. It has less paint and therefore the lines become clearer. I experimented with red paint inspired by the poem above. The result is softer which was a surprised to me as I thought it was going to be the opposite. I enjoy the fact that the paint has accumulated around the stencil and created some shadows.
I started to loosen up and explored the outcomes of what happened if I mixed the colours on the plate, almost like grading colour. I placed some black on one end of the page and green on the other and then mixed it together with the roller. The result is a deeper and interesting one. The body has become paler and it almost looks like porcelain. I enjoy the unpredicted markings on the background, these are always a surprise. I have cropped the image so it over spills of the page as I thought this composition worked better.
I then experimented with another cut out. I drew the contours of a woman’s body and placed it on my plate. This time I didn’t smoothen the paint and I allowed it to smudge and do what it wanted to do. I found myself addicted by the element of surprise that i got every time I peeled the page back. The wrinkles and smudges in the background enriches the print. I found myself interested in the contrast of the white and plain texture of the female body in contrast to the texturised deep in colour of the background.
I wondered what would happen if I experimented with layering some of my images via CAD. I did this by layering one of my prints from exercise one and my black and green image from this exercise. I am very pleased with the results. I enjoy how the marks from exercise one have come up to the surface; creating a vibrant accent of colour and interesting marks. I think this print is beautiful. I realised that the composition fits with the golden rule theory. The eye is thrown to my lady’s pelvis and then to the red mark this is a clever outcome as it makes the image more interesting.
Above: I experimented some more with photoshop, cropping and collaging to explore what shapes and effects I could come up with. I enjoy the colour pallet and softness of the print above. By cutting and collaging I have achieved a abstract image. I can see this image on a silk scarf. I am most exited by the different tones that layering my images has achieved.
I explored and experimented with using the negative side of my cut out to see what the result would be.
Although I am not visually impressed with the results of these samples I can see the potencial of using the positive and negatives stencils as I could build on these samples. I could use different colours in between layers and this could add depth to the overall image. I can also appreciate how using the negative part of my stencil can simplify the figure of my lady and it is transformed to an abstract shape very similar to what Matisse did.
Below: I experimented with both stencils using different colours. This was successful but it is important for me to remember that I need to mark the paper to see where to place it for future layers so that the image doesn’t become blurry.
Above: I did some more investigations on layering my images to explore composition and colour. I found this process very enriching as it’s a way to come up with new outcomes. Doing this after experimenting with mono printing (which enabled me to loosen up whilst enjoying the surprise element) gave me the opportunity to manipulate my images to get the results I wanted. These images could then be transferred on to fabric or even clay or sculpture (might be something I will explore further)
I continued experimenting this time making a new stencil reminding myself to save both parts of my stencils (the positive and the negative) each time using two colours black and blue.
below: I think this image is successful as it is a direct response to my research on Henry Matisse. I enjoy the composition as it reminds me of the idea of ‘fighting emptiness rather than achieving completion’. I enjoy the markings on the bottom right corner where the blue paint has found a way of merging with the black without smudging. The figure looks like it’s moving as it is off balance. I think this is one of my strongest mono prints and it’s probably because I have invested on exploring my ideas and just as important I was influenced by my primary research.
above: I experimented on photoshop changing the background colour to a vibrant yellow. This has made the image more contemporary and fresh.
Below: I explored the idea of layering two of my images on photoshop to explore movement. This is a much softer print focusing on texture. The body has become more abstract and subtle. The focus is not on the body, the focus has shifted to the lines and texture,
Above: another edit of my images this time exploring what happens when I highten the colours? This is another of my favourites prints.
More experiments using leaves as stencils. I enjoy the boldness of colours and the clear imprints of the leaves but I don’t enjoy the composition. The body just looks like a random shape floating around for no reason.
Below: I experimented by placing my figure in a landmark position using leaves as stencils but this time in a yellow paint keeping the colour pallet more simple. This sample has a better balance and composition, I think.
I enjoyed this exercise so much that I wanted to see how my outcomes would translate on fabric. I used a company to print my monoprints on silk. I am very pleased with the results. The quality of the print is very good, they have translated well on fabric.
I then experimented with my prints on a dress. The prints above work well on fabric but in my opinion not so well on a dress. I am learning that some prints will work well for some products like interiors and others may work better for fashion.
The dress above is my favourite. I enjoy the print as it has translated well. The colours work well and the abstract body figure is not so in your face. I will call this ‘the Matisse dress’.
Thanks Matisse for being my inspiration!