I've been distracted from posting anything new lately for a handful of reasons. Fortunately, one of those things has been preparing an absurd number of new surfaces to start painting on, so it shouldn't be long until I have plenty of new projects started. At least, that's the plan. Until then, here's a quick monoprint of thistles. As possibly mentioned in previous posts, I've really been enjoying looking at landscapes on a much more micro scale, so this is a start in that vein.
Out of landscape ideas today, so I went scrolling around through Google maps street view for inspiration, ending up on a corner in Boston. It's been a while since I last used street view as a reference, but I still enjoy what it allows me to do. I'm able to scout out lots of locations ahead of time or just paint from my studio, which comes in handy during bad weather. Plus, the overwhelming amount of places reached by street view really increases my options. However, the most interesting part of this reference for me is the distortion that its cameras have on the image's perspective and viewpoint. I've used it as a basis for my own experiments with perspective and it's ended up being a strong influence on my imagined landscapes.
Last week, I took a short road trip up to Acadia National Park in Maine with one of my brothers and a couple friends. I didn't find the time to do any painting on site there, but it gave me the push to work on more portraits, something I've been promising myself that I'd work on for a while now. I ended up taking a photo of my brother from the trip and building a different landscape around him from scratch. Like all the monoprints that I do, I find it interesting to compare the plate(left) and the final print(right), seeing which parts become more saturated and which details end up being lost.
I've been learning more about using oil paints in my prints, or at least trying multiple prints and investigating all the ways that they can fail. I've felt some progress in getting a larger range of values, a problem that's given me too many flat mid-tone prints. Because of the process, even pure white oil paint appears darker than the white of the page in a print. To solve this and to get lighter tones, I've had to work with the thinnest of transparent oil layers, often by painting a section and then wiping all but the smallest traces of paint from the plate.
If you compare a recent monoprint with the plate used to make it, you can see some of the changes in value that happen during the printing process. In both, the green of the leaves stay a similar value because of the thinness and transparency used. However, because the yellow of the dandelion relied on opacity, it darkened and flattened out after being pressed. A problem found and hopefully avoided in the future.
It's felt like a while since I worked on any prints, so I'm making an effort these next few weeks to crank out as many as I can. Monotypes mean that I can't get carried away with retouches and drawn out sessions like I find myself doing with some paintings. After a period of longer studio paintings, short and sweet is just what I need. I picked up where I felt off with the paintings and returned to the pine tree motif for the first of these monotypes.
I've got a fresh canvas stretched and ready to go, but since it's large by my standards (43"x55"), I'd rather have some ideas and studies in the works before I start throwing paint at it. I enjoyed making the blue sky monotypes that I posted the other week and given the increasingly nice weather, starting something similar feels appealing. So, here's the first attempt in planning something larger in this vein.
I've been hitting a wall lately with larger paintings, so I took advantage of one of the first nice blue skies of the year and worked on some small oil monotypes. These are 4 variations on an imagined spring landscape.
Overhead from All Directions, Monotype, 6"x12", 2013
More clouds this week. I went back and looked at some past prints of mine, one of which I ended up using to paint from. I originally made my monotype, "Overhead from All Directions," back in 2013 and had always planned on following it up with a painting, but never got around to it until now. There were definitely some changes that happened during the process, but the overall concept is still there and I'm happy with both.
I've really been enjoying such convenient access to a press, so here's a pair of monotypes from today. The darker print is the initial first print, while the second lighter version is an altered ghost built from the remaining ink on the plate.
I recently restored an old press that a friend had given me a while back. I had time today to try out my new press and tweak the consistency of the ink. With the first test prints, the images on the plate and the paper weren't matching as much as I would have liked, but I'm happier with the latest results. Here are some quick monotypes from today.