I’m following the timetable for the Florence Printmaking Workshop, which is where I should be now. I’m quite surprised that this is working for me at home in my own studio. I’m finding it hard to get ideas started, but once I’m developing an image I get immersed in the process. Once the studio was ready with inks, plates and presses prepared, I started with the intention of making a series of monotypes about the Merry Maidens, a circle of standing stones in Cornwall. This is not what I would have taken to work on in Florence, but I’ve been thinking about it for a while and the time feels right. I’ve made a group of direct monotypes from life drawings that I’ve done through the last year, which I thought I would use as ‘maidens’ turned into stone for dancing on the Sabbath – the legend associated with the Merry Maidens.
Yesterday was Day 4 and I have six prints. These are not at all what I expected, but I’m pleased to have been surprised by them. All of these include chine colle (similar to collage, but embedded in the print using an etching press). All have passed through several processes and may not be finished yet. This print has the large stone as a direct monotype chine colle. The initial drawing pulls up black ink leaving clear lines are left on the plate, then the plate is printed to make a black image with white lines. The smaller ones are a relief print repeated.
This is printed from the ghost plate of print 3, the ink left on the plate once the first print has been made. It was very pale and I added another chine colle on the main stone and more of the small relief prints.
This print has a chine colle that was the initial direct monotype drawing (black ink lines on buff paper). It was too dark round the edges, so I pulled up the chine colle edges and tore more closely to the figures.
This started from the ghost print of the one above, but the surround was quite pale, a similar tone to that of the stones, so I used a much darker blue to give more substantial forms. When I printed the blue, I masked the stone shapes with acid-free tissue, which does not provide a complete barrier to the ink. This gave some continuity to the surface.
As I peeled off the tissue masks from the previous print, I realised that I had a fine web-like texture of blue ink left on them, so I turned them over and used them to make this print.
The last print I’ve made so far was completely unexpected. There was a full moon the night before, very large and bright and I found out that it was the last of the Super Moons this year, called the Flower Moon because it appears at the time of the blossom. I had an etching plate from years ago that I’d made from hydrangea flowers, so I inked it up as a relief print (instead of intaglio), prepared a chine colle figure to be the ‘stone’ and made several passes through the press to build up this print.
Now I will take a day or two to review where I am with this series and to prepare for the next set of workshop days.