Before I begin writing about the printing process I wanted to make sure I clarified why I chose to create collagraph prints as opposed to another printmaking medium. In some ways I feel choosing the collagraphic method is a bit more of a risk. I find it slightly more unpredictable than the lino cut method. But I like the way textural elements come through in a collagraphic print, it allows the material used in the process to be celebrated in a different way to trying to create texture when carving a lino block. I also liked how creating a collagraphic block allowed to apply more of a collage based approach which is something I wanted to emulate from the artist’s research at the start of the assignment.
The printing process & final prints :
In the photos above you can see the collagraph blocks after inking & printing, I’ve included these as I actually admire them as art in their own sense, I know I can’t submit them as a part of the assignment but I like their tactile quality.
I began printing with the ‘Natural Selection 1’ block, having soaked some Strathmore 500 printing paper for around 20 mins. I found this first block the trickiest and ended up re-inking and printing the block a total of 6 times. I think the trickiest part was dealing with the nature of how different areas of the block seemed to hold more ink than others. So in some of the prints below you’ll notice some patchy/light areas alongside some blobs of thicker colour. It took awhile to get a quality print which I was satisfied with.
My final decision was between print number 2 and print 5, whilst print 2 had more even colour overall I liked the way the texture had come through so clearly on print 5. I think I will go with print 2 as the better quality print as a whole.
The second print ‘Natural Selection 2’ was much simpler. I only took one print from the block because I felt that this was a decent quality print. Perhaps this was due to the shapes be simpler forms and the textures a little flatter than in the first collagraph block. Or it could be my lack of practice with the intaglio inking method.
The third print, ‘Natural Selection 3’ took two attempts and I could’ve possibly kept trying to refine the quality of print but in the interests of time I stopped at two.
Set of three prints
I photographed two different combinations of the final three prints to help me decided which of the ‘Natural Selection 1’ prints to send off as my finished work. I’ve decided to go with the second version (see photo below), because I feel these prints have the most even ink coverage overall.
Successes/Shortcomings of final prints:
I’ll begin with what I think are the successes of the three prints as a set. I think that the three prints work well as set, it’s clear visually from the same colour ink that they are tied together but I think also the subject matter does tie them together. I also like that there’s some variation in the shapes of the arrangements, that the different collagraph blocks have different textures but are unified by all containing textured elements. I’m not sure it’s immediately obvious what the subject matter is on visual inspection, but this seems somewhat more acceptable given that the aim was to create something ‘semi abstract’.
In terms of shortcomings I think the variation in quality of print is probably the biggest shortcoming. Whether I should blame this on being still relatively new to intaglio inking or on my ability to use a press I am unsure! As ever there is room for me to experiment further with this method. Perhaps it would’ve been interesting to see how the blocks looked printed in black ink for a more graphic striking quality. Another idea might be to add different colours to highlight different areas of each block. I avoided this partly because I felt it would’ve been harder to control the quality of the final print. I also felt concerned multiple colours might lead to less of a visual coherence between the three prints. Overall I’m fairly pleased although not entirely satisfied by the finished series of prints.