Sunday, November 27, 2011

Creating time for the unexpected (part two)

Meanwhile ... back at my art retreat and the "short story" that wouldn't go away ...

So ... there I was ... completely unable to concentrate on the project I'd brought to work on, and significantly distracted by the short story that had just fallen out of my head when I woke that morning. But having written it, there was really nowhere to take it, except perhaps to an editor (if I only I knew one!). Creatively speaking, I needed a fresh direction to travel in ...

In the last few years, several of us have been fortunate enough to have taken classes with Roxanne Padgett, and pretty much we all agree that she's one of the most inspiring and generous teachers we've had. Her recent Journalfest class on faces inspired some of us to make multi-plate prints at the retreat.

I'm just gonna say outright that I was a little intimidated to try this, but since everyone else was having a go at it, I thought I'd join in. I've noticed there's a kind of energy about doing things in groups that I can't replicate at home. Not to mention that if I was at home I would have found a zillion other things I "ought" to have been doing and therefore print-making just wouldn't have happened. But since the materials are so darn cheap (Sticky foam sheet + thrift store board book: $2. Acrylic paints: $5. Making your own amazing multi-colour prints? Priceless) this was obviously both the time and the place to do it.

I started with a simple sketch of a woman's head, then I redrew it using wide sharpie on the sticky foam. The process of visualizing and cutting the separate layers of colour in the foam was a bit of a mind twister. It looks easy (once it's done), but actually cutting the layers? You really have to concentrate. And positioning them on the board book so they would be in register? Sheesh! It occurred to me while trying to position everything that working on plexiglass sheets would make lining things up easier, but hey - who randomly throws some plexiglass into their art bag "just in case they need it"? Okay, some people might actually do that, but I hadn't, so I worked with what I had. And it all worked out okay in the end ~ I actually think the non-perfect register of these prints is what makes them look more interesting.

I wanted to record the separate stages of the process, so I decided to stamp each "plate" into my journal, and hey - it just so happened that I had 7 blank pages ready and waiting (opposite that darn short story!). So I carefully stamped and labeled each of the 3 separate plates in my journal, and filled up the following 4 pages with various combinations ... plates 1 & 2 together, plates 2 & 3 together, all plates together, etc, etc . Done!

But not done. It kind of bugged me that the pages were still so empty ... just a single, boring print on each page. Hmphf. Fortunately, what I *had* thrown into my art bag was some really really fun washi tape. I, like many of my arty friends, have recently fallen under the spell of washi tape. I've even been making my own custom washi tape. Maybe I'll tell you about it some time ...

So I decided to put a washi tape border around each of the prints, and added a bit of colour here and there using caran d'ache crayons. And since that still left an empty box under each print, I also hand wrote or stamped a few lines from the bit of the story on the facing page. Now I was done. Every single page was as thoroughly visually covered as the scribbly written page that faced it. And yet again I'd had the experience of the retreat giving me an extraordinary gift - a complete package - a story, plus the perfect visual component to go with it. Will wonders never cease? I hope not.

3 comments:

George Wright said...

Rose here - great post - very clear, still have not tried this, but now am more motivated! yes, post more on washi tape! didn't C. get a book with washi history??

Paula McNamee said...

Pen, this looks like so much fun. I want to make some plates and play with them. What is plate 4? Thanks so much for sharing.

radiantcrust said...

Hi Paula ... plate 4 is all three plates printed together. - Pen.