Experimenting: I love it, I think all artists love it.
A few years ago I made a linocut called Sleeping Beauty. It showed a woman asleep under some prickly flowers, and I printed it in cream over a monoprint gold/green background.
The only problem was that not many people liked it (other than me!). It was hard to make out the actual image, and the gold in the background caught the light in a distracting way. People puzzled over which way up it should be, too.
Preparing for Open Studios, I looked at my framed print of Sleeping Beauty, and wondered whether I could improve on it (and so reuse the frame!).
I did some experiments on Photoshop. Well, many experiments on Photoshop! I quickly worked out that it would be radically improved if the flowers were a different colour to the sleeping woman.
But how was I going to do this? I could cut another block for the linocut, or hand colour, or try to do a reduction cut of the block I had. But I came up with another plan.
I liked the pale woman and pale background, with strongly coloured flowers the best – green was the clear winner for colour. So first I printed the woman in white oil based ink on off-white Japanese paper:
While that was drying, I did some experiments. I had decided to do a variant of chine colle to get the colour into the image, but in a more precise manner than conventional chine colle (where usually bold or semi abstract shapes in thin tissue are glued to the printing paper before printing).
I chose to use hand made green mulberry tissue paper. First I printed my linocut onto the green paper, this time using pale green ink. I used a quick drying water based ink (because I know from experience that it works better on this type of paper). Then I taped the green linocut upside down on a place mat, and pasted all of it with japanese rice glue.
Despite the tape, the paper dried really crinkly, so I also pressed it under some heavy books overnight.
The next day I cut out all the flowers with a surgical scalpel. This is half way through. It was fiddly work, but the dried glue on the back made the paper crisper and easier to cut than in its native state.
When the base print was dry, I carefully laid all the cut out flowers onto the print…
Finally I painted over them with clean water and a soft sable brush. This reactivated the glue and adhered the flowers to the white on white print. I pressed the whole thing overnight with more heavy books to prevent crinkling and…
…I think it’s gorgeous! Coming soon – a photo when it is completely dry and framed. Watch this space!