To allow for a character to emerge or to keep it sans narrative?

In making the current body of work, a repeating figure is starting to make it's way in my sketches and prints. I find myself asking how illustrative I want to be. Should I lean into this idea and see if it's got wings, or should I pull focus and keep the narrative in the realm of implied metaphor?

I don't know yet. My intuition tells me to go ahead and explore it, and embrace the fact that I am a walking cliché.

The Return.jpg

CMYK separation screen printing.

A quick overview of the color separation process with screen printing (aka: Silk screen, & serigraph) For a more in-depth study check out the Screen Printing Glossary (here) by the American Screen Printing Association. 

The body of work that I have been developing is somewhere between the realm of traditional "analog" art and digital collage. This process fits my goals well. I will write more about the content of the work on a later date, but for now I want to show the process.

The first step is to get an image that you want to print. For me that means making a digital collage in Photoshop. 

Below is a crop of one of the collages, showing 3 of the 5 eggs that will make the composition. I am trusting you, internet, not to take this image and claim it as your own. Don't do that. That's rude. Besides, it's a rough one, not very refined, you can do better.

I will skip the layers and masks explanation because that is readily available on youtube by hundreds of users. A blog really isn't as good as a video explanation anyway. 

I will skip the layers and masks explanation because that is readily available on youtube by hundreds of users. A blog really isn't as good as a video explanation anyway. 


Next you have to separate the layers of your image into the CMYK layers. C for Cyan, M for Magenta, Y for Yellow, and K for key (or black). This is a standard print setting. For images that are digital, and going to stay that way, many artists make the work in RGB mode (Red, Green, Blue) which is most appropriate for how colors are combined in light to make a full spectrum. Many dancers or theater folks understand color theory when it comes to light and how it's very different than color theory in physical pigment. 

This image, and a full description of color light/pigment from here

This image, and a full description of color light/pigment from here


Once the colors are separated into their own layer files they will look black. This is to give the viewer an idea of where the color pigments sits on the surface of the canvas (the substrate... can be paper, background, etc). For screen printing you need to then convert these files into a bitmap. That will simplify the image in to a series of dots or ellipses. During that conversion you have to change the direction of the dots so a pattern wont appear as a result of the layering and threads on the screen. You also have to consider the thread count of the screen you will be using, and the level of detail in your image. That will determine the dpi (dots per inch) of the bitmap. For mine, I have a 305 thread count screen, and a lot of fine detail and color mixing to do so I put the dpi at about 175 (a little more than half the thread count is a good general guide line). I am using a toner printer, not a large format photo printer. This is about as good as I can get it, but using a large format printer would give one better results. 

When converting your image to a bitmap, after deturmining the DPI, you need to set the angle for each layer. This image, and more info from here. As you can see, getting the angle right will prevent patterning on the surface. I generally use the one on the top-right, which results in the most even distribution of color with the least patterning.

When converting your image to a bitmap, after deturmining the DPI, you need to set the angle for each layer. This image, and more info from here. As you can see, getting the angle right will prevent patterning on the surface. I generally use the one on the top-right, which results in the most even distribution of color with the least patterning.


Next the layers are printed out on transparent film, and burned into the coated silk screen. 

All layers will print out black, regardless of what color they are. 

All layers will print out black, regardless of what color they are. 

It would benefit you to label your layers, especially of they don't look very different from one layer to another. The black toner will block the light from exposing some areas of the coated screen. Once the emulsion is done hardening from exposure to light, you rinse out the screen which will reveal the parts that were protected by the toner. Those areas will wash clean. 

I have a photo-exposure bulb on the screen here. As you can see, I placed the transparencies over the freshly dried, photo sensitive emulsion. The bulb cooks the parts that light hits, and the rest remains soft. Water will rinse those parts away from the screen. (You can also see a ghost of a previous print on the screen. That happens sometimes with dark inks. It wont affect future prints)

I have a photo-exposure bulb on the screen here. As you can see, I placed the transparencies over the freshly dried, photo sensitive emulsion. The bulb cooks the parts that light hits, and the rest remains soft. Water will rinse those parts away from the screen. (You can also see a ghost of a previous print on the screen. That happens sometimes with dark inks. It wont affect future prints)

Here are my exposed screens, showing the cyan and magenta layers burned into the emulsion. Look close to see the differences between those layers, the yellow areas are open and will allow the screen print ink to pass through. 

Here are my exposed screens, showing the cyan and magenta layers burned into the emulsion. Look close to see the differences between those layers, the yellow areas are open and will allow the screen print ink to pass through. 


Next, I generally try to print the image by starting with the lightest color, and building to darkest. Below are images of two prints in progress that already have the yellow, and cyan layers on them. 

Seen here are some images that already have the yellow, and cyan layers down. 

Seen here are some images that already have the yellow, and cyan layers down. 


I am getting ready to lay down the magenta layer here, so to (try to) get the registration right I run the ink through once on a blank piece of transparent film.

I am getting ready to lay down the magenta layer here, so to (try to) get the registration right I run the ink through once on a blank piece of transparent film.

When I slide the image under the film, I can line it up with the image to get the paper under the correct part of the screen. 

When I slide the image under the film, I can line it up with the image to get the paper under the correct part of the screen. 

Here is what happens when registration goes sideways! This print is hard.

Here is what happens when registration goes sideways! This print is hard.

Everything about my studio is DIY, but this drying situation has to be the most! It's literally paper, binder clips, and yarn tacked to the wall. It works in a pinch, but the paper will warp during drying and need to be flattened. 

Everything about my studio is DIY, but this drying situation has to be the most! It's literally paper, binder clips, and yarn tacked to the wall. It works in a pinch, but the paper will warp during drying and need to be flattened. 

Here's the finished print for the single egg and skull composition

Here's the finished print for the single egg and skull composition

Here's the finished print for the growing eggs composition

Here's the finished print for the growing eggs composition


And there you go. I hope you found this process post interesting. Please feel free to reach out if you have any thoughts or questions! Thanks for reading.

Time to get back into the swing of things, and IPEP drawing.

Dear reader, I feel that I owe you an explanation. This blog has been neglected... for that I am sorry. The flood in August 2016 hit my home and studio right after I completed my MFA and most of my work was lost. It has taken about a year to get back on track, and rebuild the studio. Now it's up an running and I will post process images/explanations more frequently! Here's some things I've been working on.

This is Blackberry Kitty. The story behind this illustration comes from my childhood. When I was young, I used to go on foraging expeditions in the woods near my house. At the time I had a litter of kittens that would follow me around like the pied piper. They'd all come with me, catching worms and guarding me against monsters along the way. This drawing was entered into an international call to artists based out of India, for a portfolio exchange put together by the International Print Exchange Program. This year's theme is "Homeland". My drawing was selected for participation, so now I get to work on turning it into a print!

The final drawing, that will become the print.

The final drawing, that will become the print.

Seen here, left to right: Initial concept sketches, 2nd round sketches, and final drawing with linoleum block. Ready for drawing transfer! The darker version of the drawing seen here is a photocopy, done with a toner printer. This is important. Ink-jet printers are harder to do a transfer with. The toner can be applied to the linoleum by turning the image on it's face and coloring over the back with an alcohol based marker. The toner will loosen from the paper, and stick to the linoleum. It will also be a mirror image of your original image, which helps a lot when you're making a print with lettering. Relief prints will be a mirror image of what's drawn on the block, so by doing a transfer this way, your drawing will look like you originally drew it in the end.      

Seen here, left to right: Initial concept sketches, 2nd round sketches, and final drawing with linoleum block. Ready for drawing transfer! The darker version of the drawing seen here is a photocopy, done with a toner printer. This is important. Ink-jet printers are harder to do a transfer with. The toner can be applied to the linoleum by turning the image on it's face and coloring over the back with an alcohol based marker. The toner will loosen from the paper, and stick to the linoleum. It will also be a mirror image of your original image, which helps a lot when you're making a print with lettering. Relief prints will be a mirror image of what's drawn on the block, so by doing a transfer this way, your drawing will look like you originally drew it in the end.  

 

 

Here, I am making tabs for my pin registration. The carved block will sit in a jig that I made, the pins will also sit on that same jig, taped down so nothing can wiggle. The tabs here will go onto the back of the paper, so that it will lay in the same place with each layer printed. 

Here, I am making tabs for my pin registration. The carved block will sit in a jig that I made, the pins will also sit on that same jig, taped down so nothing can wiggle. The tabs here will go onto the back of the paper, so that it will lay in the same place with each layer printed. 

Tabs and pins. 

Tabs and pins. 

This first layer will be the white of the flowers (Carved away so no ink will touch it) and the light tone of the hand (The ink color) The next layer will be a light gray which will double as the hand shadow, and the lightest tone on the kitty. The idea here is to work from light to dark, and transparent to opaque. 

This first layer will be the white of the flowers (Carved away so no ink will touch it) and the light tone of the hand (The ink color) The next layer will be a light gray which will double as the hand shadow, and the lightest tone on the kitty. The idea here is to work from light to dark, and transparent to opaque. 

On the top of this image you can see the make-shift drying situation I rigged with yarn, binder clips, and some L brackets we had left over from construction. At the bottom you can see the carved block in it's jig, the barren, and of course Futurama on to keep me company. 

On the top of this image you can see the make-shift drying situation I rigged with yarn, binder clips, and some L brackets we had left over from construction. At the bottom you can see the carved block in it's jig, the barren, and of course Futurama on to keep me company. 

Layer 1 done. About 8 to go. Seen here is the full edition of 53. I hope to get about 45 out of it. Left a little wiggle room for mis-prints.  

Layer 1 done. About 8 to go. Seen here is the full edition of 53. I hope to get about 45 out of it. Left a little wiggle room for mis-prints.

 

Layer 2 has been carved out, and will reveal the shadow on the hand. 

Layer 2 has been carved out, and will reveal the shadow on the hand. 

Printing for layer 3 is light green, and it reveals the hand shape. Husband in the picture as a bonus. 

Printing for layer 3 is light green, and it reveals the hand shape. Husband in the picture as a bonus. 

Layer 3 is done, so this is layer 4. It will be the leaf shadow color, and it will reveal the light green leaf color.

Layer 3 is done, so this is layer 4. It will be the leaf shadow color, and it will reveal the light green leaf color.

AND here's what that looks like. Next I carve away the rest of the leaves, and print the light color on the berries. 

AND here's what that looks like. Next I carve away the rest of the leaves, and print the light color on the berries. 

At this point I decided to make the berries only the one color, since they already have highlights, and they will have an outline. No need to do 2 tones. It would just be extra work, for very little difference in the actual print. 

At this point I decided to make the berries only the one color, since they already have highlights, and they will have an outline. No need to do 2 tones. It would just be extra work, for very little difference in the actual print. 

This layer made me nervous! I knew going into it that the values were going to look all crazy for a minute. I needed to get the light gray of the kitty down so that she can start to take shape, but in order to do that I have to fill the whole block with that color. Stick with me here, it gets better! Below is a process video as a little langiappe for you. 

This layer made me nervous! I knew going into it that the values were going to look all crazy for a minute. I needed to get the light gray of the kitty down so that she can start to take shape, but in order to do that I have to fill the whole block with that color. Stick with me here, it gets better! Below is a process video as a little langiappe for you. 

Ok, we're getting back in line here. Kitty is starting to take shape, and all that's left is the black layer! 

Ok, we're getting back in line here. Kitty is starting to take shape, and all that's left is the black layer! 

Hard to see here, but this is the final layer. This layer is black, and it holds the image together by outlining everything, and filling in the background spaces. 

Hard to see here, but this is the final layer. This layer is black, and it holds the image together by outlining everything, and filling in the background spaces. 

8 layers of the oil based ink sit on top of the paper. They will sink in a little, but the build up is part of the appeal. 

8 layers of the oil based ink sit on top of the paper. They will sink in a little, but the build up is part of the appeal. 

The final image!

The final image!

A bonus signature on one of the prints from my kitty. She wanted to be involved.

A bonus signature on one of the prints from my kitty. She wanted to be involved.

An experiment with the sun

This was an experiment from a prompt to use recycled materials, or things that were going to be thrown out. I used some flowers from my front yard that were dried up and about to be tossed. I blended them, strained them, then used the dyed water to paint a piece of cotton paper.

Next, I made a digital collage, and printed it out on transparency film. I held that in place with clear-ish tape and attached some of the left over flowers to it. This whole set up went into the back window of my car for about a month to let the sun fade the dye. I was hoping that the black of the toner would protect parts of the paper and keep it from fading. Thus creating a type of photo process similar to a Van Dyke print. 

Next, I made a digital collage, and printed it out on transparency film. I held that in place with clear-ish tape and attached some of the left over flowers to it. This whole set up went into the back window of my car for about a month to let the sun fade the dye. I was hoping that the black of the toner would protect parts of the paper and keep it from fading. Thus creating a type of photo process similar to a Van Dyke print. 

This is what it looks like now! It's sharper than I thought it would be, since the light source was constantly moving from the sun's normal movement and me driving around town. I think I will make a few more, while these flowers are in bloom. Showing this kind of work will be hard because they're obviously super light sensitive. I will worry about that later though.  =)

This is what it looks like now! It's sharper than I thought it would be, since the light source was constantly moving from the sun's normal movement and me driving around town. I think I will make a few more, while these flowers are in bloom. Showing this kind of work will be hard because they're obviously super light sensitive. I will worry about that later though.  =)