Experiments: Frustration, then Focus & Clarity

After multiple failed attempts in the studio, things finally came together towards the end of the day and I feel that I’ve achieved a bit more clarity in terms of what direction I want to take the work in next.

I started the day with a small horizontal monotype, done in the same technique I’ve been using over the past few months. I was hoping that the horizontal format, in addition to the need to paint with tiny brushes would be enough to offer new approaches. I was completely wrong, and making this monotype felt like I was simply rehashing concepts I had already run through, and the results were less than promising. When I’m doing tests and experiments like I was doing today, I’m not looking for the results to be particularly representative of a finished piece, rather I’m looking for something that seems to offer enormous potential and possibilities. One look at that monotype and I knew immediately it was time to move on.

With a roller, I inked up the entire plate, intending to try a subtractive monotype. I made about 5 marks into the plate with a rag, and knew immediately that this technique wasn’t going to work. I know it sounds like I didn’t even give it a chance, but sometimes it’s simply that obvious.

I tried drawing with charcoal, wet charcoal, and water soluable crayon on the plexiglass, all to no avail. Frustrated, I was about ready to bag everything until I picked up my etching needle and started working on a drypoint plate. At first, the drypoint felt very awkward. However, by the time I had been working a good 15 minutes I felt like I was really getting into something new and different, and I found myself completely absorbed by the process. That’s why I got really irritated when I went to proof the plate only to discover that I was all out of tarlatans and couldn’t print.

I put the drypoint plate aside, and started drawing with charcoal on paper. I would have worked these charcoal sketches more, but I was out of vine charcoal and erasers, and decided to put that option on hold. I picked up some lithographic rubbing ink and lithographic crayons and did a few sketches on charcoal paper. I wasn’t that excited about the crayon, but as I worked the sketches, I got really excited when it became apparent that there would be a lot of potential for subtlety and atmosphere, two qualities which had been previously eluding me in the monotypes.

Crayon Study

All in all, it was a rather fractured day, but I got through it with a new plan: 1) large scale crayon drawings, and 2) horizontal drypoint prints which seek to represent the images through subtle atmosphere. The drypoint prints will be 6″ x 18″ and most likely printed in Renaissance black ink.

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