For this project I tried to push myself to create different abstract prints using a variety of methods and materials. Here I’ll outline the different prints and their methods before some analysis of the process and end results below.
Print 1 – Mono-printing with back drawing
I tried to create my first print using randomly drawn marks or scribbles across the back of the paper. I also tried to add more variation in the colour of the marks by layering two different colours on top of each other on the glass inking plate.
Print 2 – Mono-print with rolled shapes and back drawing:
I liked the colours from the first print so used them again for the second print. This time I tried to use the rollers to create different lines, shapes and textures on the inking plate. I also attempted to make some marks on the back of the paper. The result wasn’t massively clear or as impactful as I’d hoped.
Print 3 – Mono-printing with ink spread by palette knives:
For this print I took a rougher approach, working with a much thicker consistency of ink. I loaded ink onto different palette knives and then spread and wiped it across the inking plate. I tried my best not to think to carefully about where I was putting the ink. I also tried to add in some extra colours for variation. This felt like a much more painterly method than the previous two prints. I think I took a couple of prints from the one inked area as the ink was so thick that there was plenty left on the plate to leave an impression on the paper.
Print 4/5 – Rainbow rolled ink with pressed plants/leaves/flowers:
I liked the idea of incorporating some natural element to an abstract print, so I collected some leaves and plants from my garden for printing with. I wasn’t sure how to get the best results from these materials so I tried this print a couple of times.
On the second attempt I found a better method for printing. I used rainbow rolling to cover the inking plate and masking tape to create a clean printed area. I then tried my best to ‘randomly’ lay the different plant elements onto the inked surface.
I then took a print with a thick paper, with the intention of using the pressure to squash the plants onto the ink to make an impression on the surface. Once I’d done this I removed all the plant matter and took a print with a thinner paper to try and capture the delicate marks left by the plants themselves.
How easy was it to create an entirely random effect which relies on the materials in the printmaking process rather than your own conscious planning?
I find this question particularly hard to answer. On the one hand I feel like the prints were all a great deal more random than prints I would normally make. A normal process for me in printing would involve careful drawing out or colour sketches of possible printed outcomes. Then I would spend some time considering how to execute that and on colour ways etc. So in that sense the decision making process was much less deliberate and much freer for this project.
But I struggle to agree with or conclude that any of the prints were of an ‘entirely random’ effect or nature. Simply because everything was guided by my hand and as much as I tried to be less conscious I still found my mind directing elements of where I placed ink or colour that I used. If I had to choose a print that seems the most random, I would say Print number 4 (see image below). I was deliberately rushed in my approach to applying the ink to the plate to see if this allowed for a more random effect and I think in the end it did.
Once printed, is the effect balanced on the paper? Can you judge it as a composition in the same way that you can a planned, abstract or figurative one?
I think that the simple answer is yes you can still judge the composition of a planned abstract or figurative one in similar ways. It might be harder though to come to conclusions about the meaning or intention of a piece though when looking a ‘random’ abstract print. But both still contain elements like texture or colour or shape to some degree which can all be judged as part of a composition.
What makes a balanced composition in a random abstract print?
The same things that make any piece of art work balanced, a particularly visually pleasing or settling arrangement of forms, colour, line, texture. These things might look different in an abstract print but often they still exist in some form. Their arrangement might not have been as intentional but that doesn’t necessarily (in my mind) detract from the potential balance of the piece.
Compare the two abstract print projects. What are the advantages and disadvantages, similarities and difficulties of each? Which do you prefer and why?
In terms of similarities I think there was an interesting process of simplifying or paring down the elements or components that go into a print for both projects. Perhaps that’s unique to me personally but I found I had to be less considered in my approach to allow for things to feel more abstract or random. I had to loosen my control over the medium and arrangement of the images. Obviously I was more considered in my approach to the composition on the semi-abstract print than I was the random print series.
As someone who likes to plan and arrange images carefully I found the semi-abstract printing process less complex and probably on the whole more appealing. I think the advantage of a more considered approach is that the end result appears more balanced overall. But that’s not to say there’s no balance to the random prints.
In terms of disadvantages I think the random print process had a higher rate of inconsistency, I needed to try different ideas a couple of times to come to a clearer print. However this did allow for more interesting or unpredictable outcomes than with the semi-abstract printing method.
I think I do prefer the results from the abstract rational prints, but this feels like it’s heavily to do with my personality or ‘comfort zone’. I do enjoy some abstract pieces of art work and admire artists ability to create often visceral emotive works which are free from some of the constraints of more deliberate pieces. But I struggle to produce that sort of work. It doesn’t come naturally so conversely I found myself having to work harder to produce the random prints than the rational prints.