August 14, 2012

Two New Cardboard Prints; Serendipity Plays a Part

Split Circles, ink on Sansui SH8 paper; image size 10 x 6 3/4 in., paper size 19 x 10 in.

Sometimes we're helped along in a new endeavor by happy chance. Two things happened with with Split Circles that were unplanned but proved to be very useful. When I was mixing the color for this print, I pulled a proof on a long narrow piece of paper left from tearing down the sheets. I tacked it up to check the color (I wanted it to balance the slightly greenish tinge of the paper) and was surprised at how much I liked the format. I had planned this image to be printed on the usual rectangular formatted paper, but this scroll-like vertical seemed to suit the image very well. I would never have thought of it if it hadn't been for that serendipitous proof.

Split Circles, proof detail

On that same proof I'd inked the plate too lightly, so I got this more transparent effect on the shape, and I liked it! I haven't been able to reproduce that, but it got me thinking about the consistency of the ink, realizing that I needed to thin it more. 

Forest Green, ink on Gifu Green Tea Medium paper; image size 10 x 8 in., paper size 16 x 14 in. 

I took that understanding into the next print session the following week. It is a water soluble, oil based ink, so I keep a spray bottle of water at the work table, spritzing and mixing until the consistency seems right. I was finally able to pull prints without the annoying ridges of ink on the surface. This print is smooth and glossy.

Forest Green detail

Because the image has a lot of flat dark––I'd thought of it as opposite to Split Circles, with its very open form––I wanted to try getting a painterly effect to alleviate that flatness. Using a brush, I added some painterly marks of a lighter yellower green on top of the dark ink that was rolled on with a brayer.  Each print is slightly different, and I like how they came out. This print too has a slightly different format than previous ones: I've been tearing the paper down to a 4 inch border around each image, but Forest Green seemed to need a tighter cropping; at 3 inches the border becomes part of the conversation of shapes, larger it looked awkward. I'm trying to keep the print process open so there's room for these learning moments.


  1. Nothing like serendipity to send us off in a new direction. That scroll format is particularly effective and really makes us look at an image differently from the typical rectangle. Mark has been doing B/W photos in a similar format and I am amazed at what it does to the image.

    1. Happenstance can be such a boon, can't it? It's interesting that Mark is doing photos in the scroll format (I'd love to see some). I'll have to think more about using different formats going forward.