Wild Raspberries: wip 01

I have finally got myself back into the studio to do some printing, couple of times in the last two weeks, as opposed to volunteer admin/photography or attending courses. It has been a long time coming.

I’d been *thinking* about an idea for a print for some time and thought it was time I got some real work done. The idea was inspired by reading my friend Kona McPhee‘s poem, Wild Raspberries, in her latest collection, What Long Miles. An image came to me as I read the poem and I thought it’d make a good print but, as usual, never followed through. Well, now I am.

The image I had in mind was of cupped hands over a stylised background of raspberry canes with damaged fruit held in the hands, the canes and hands printed using photolithography and the raspberries with drypoint. The affect I wanted to achieve was similar to the layered screenprints of Ruth McDonald, who I follow on twitter and whose work I really love (eg see this one). I had no idea whether I could do anything similar using photolith.

I took a set of photographs of my wife’s hands and picked one to use. Then took some shots of raspberry canes. I also created an image, a spiky outline of the hands, using Procreate on the iPad. All these were loaded into Photoshop, as separate layers so that I could see the effect of one over the other.

wr-ps-screen

Once I had each separate image the way I wanted it, the way I would want each photolith plate to look, I made just that layer visible and exported it as a full resolution jpeg (maybe should have used tiff – if Staples could print it). Those first four images were:

Hands11-c1 Hands11-c2 Hands11-h Hands11-x

I had these images put onto transparencies — tried using my own laser printer but it is on its last legs so the output was dire — using the local Staples outlet and took them into Leicester Print Workshop where I’m a member (and volunteer). This was on Thursday 20th Nov.

I’d previously done a course on photolith printmaking with Serena Smith and Kathryn Desforges. But this had been a year or so ago so I needed a refresher. Luckily for me, Katy Goodrich, the LPW apprentice, was willing and more than capable of getting me back up to speed in this technique. She showed me where all the equipment was, helped me set it up, showed me how to cut up a photolith sheet, then watched over me as I exposed the first transparency, developed and printed it. I managed the rest myself but she was always able to help when I hit problems: I’d have turned around and gone home without her.

I printed the hands first:

20111120wr01

Not good. The shadow in the cupped hand was much too dark. I tried the spiky outline next:

20111120wr02

Not happy with this either. The actual image had long, fairly light spikes but they were entirely lost in this print. I tried the two images of the canes next, first the darker one:

20111120wr03

This was ok as a print but was much darker than I wanted: it’d overwhelm the hands when printed over the top. So then I tried the more transparent of the cane images. This one I printed twice since the first almost couldn’t be seen:

20111120wr04 20111120wr05

Not sure you can see either of them here!

I had a chat to Katy afterwards about these results. She reckoned that I needed to reduce the tonal range of the images, that photolith plates were not good with wide ranges. I wasn’t sure how to do this in Photoshop so she volunteered to help me with this (and did) on the following Monday when I was in as a volunteer.

So, not a successful day in terms of results but extremely good in terms of my printmaking education. I’ve done a follow-up day’s printing using images altered to Katy’s suggestions developed as plates. That’s for the next post.

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Posted on November 30, 2014, in Art, Printmaking and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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