I am starting out on a printmaking journey. I have a new press, new inks and new paper, so lots of experimentation and not a lot of resolved or finished work just yet. I do enjoy the discovery of new ideas and methods. I have been been printing with two good friends, Ruth Stanton McLeod, printmaker and Sue Alexander, jeweller and printmaker, for about two years now, but it is quite daunting doing it all by yourself!
So, to encourage my artist into action, I thought I would post a few prints for scrutiny by the wider world – a sort of critique session.
I had an ‘artist’s date’ in September when I visited Glentui Valley to walk a Department of Conservation bush track, with the idea that if fallen leaves presented themselves to me during the walk I could collect them up and take prints – eco prints on paper or nature prints perhaps.
The leaves in the nature print below are three finely veined makomako or wineberry leaves (Aristotelia serrata), a small fern and a whauwhaupaku (five-finger Pseudopanax arboreus) with only three leaflets, it had lost the other two. I like the way the plant juice pressed out from the whau has contributed to the print – even providing its signature. The print was made with water-based ink, and if I had used oil-based ink I could have coloured the leaves with my watercolour paints. The paper was dry Tiepolo, 290 gsm, the ink was Flint. I have also just started to print on a ‘premium digital ink jet’ paper, 100 gsm, which is acid free but not sure if that alone gives it art archival status. With oil- and water-based ink you get a really nice print on the smooth ink jet paper, and it dries well. Good for tests!
I also used the leaves collected at Glentui for a paper steam – some images needed further work. I added in colourful plants from the garden, to take advantage of the spring flowers.
Eventually, these images were made into a book which I have just completed. The book’s cover is paper from a much earlier nature printing session when leaf prints were applied onto a sheet of paper coloured by earth pigments (Waikari green and an oxide brown-red watercolour). The nature prints in the book were made using oil-based ink, and were added on top of the steamed ecoprints.
As an experiment for this book, I applied the Waikari green paint to the black beech leaves, a Winsor & Newton blue watercolour to the primula flower petals and above them a touch of Indian Yellow, and pencil outlines were used to define some other leaves and flowers. However, the pink and grey marks on some of the sheets of paper occurred as I left the damp paper between plastic for a few days… Mould, ie! There is also a lot of colour transfer from the plants themselves through to the adjacent pages of the stack as it was being steamed.
The last page shown here, of two wineberry leaves, is a steam of leaves I had previously used in a nature print – hence the black impressions appearing within the colours of the leaves.
A good way to record a walk and the progress in using my new etching press!