As third year sped past me at a worrying pace and found its way into the timeframe that is Unit X, I was slowly but surely beginning to come into a space of stability and peace in own my practice. Through this process I was simultaneously, through trial and error (and multiple cuts and scars on my fingers), able to develop my love for linocut printmaking. My CP3 essay had allowed me to restructure and reinforce the foundation that my work was created on, while also helping me create a sense of meaning; namely how landscapes such as woodland and forestry can be a focus point in evoking imagination through the act of subconscious recognition and memory.
In short, I wanted to create prints for my unit X project, that I could produce in limited batches that played with this idea and gave a sense of place to the viewer. This would allow me to further research into my interested field of academic study while also find myself as a practical practitioner. I create it for the purpose of a stand alone print, but it can be flexed to work on different media, for example book covers and narrational stories, so throughout this unit I also want to see how I can fit my prints into different types of work to explore my potential reach. Were the end of year degree show to go ahead, I would of exhibited my linocut prints as a collection, fitting under the same theme as discussed earlier.
I think its important to add to those who do not practice in the art of prints the long and time consuming process or making my linocut prints. For me the journey is almost spiritual, creating the fine lines and details which remind me of my past self walking through a forest and taking in its intricacy, while carving, it truly gives me time to self reflect. I want my final prints to show a personal approach to how I reminisce when thinking of the forest, taking inspiration from my childhood memories, and how untapping the subconscious in my work can spark imagination from the viewer and allow them to use their own experience to gain a personal response.
I tried to touch on this in my authorship project with varied success however through peer feedback I early on learnt how complex ideology and research can be hard to communicated and received through the use of illustration and image making without text to aid the art. I understood the hurdle in that feedback however I wanted to move on from the poems, and having enjoyed doing book covers briefly in authorship i thought that might be a good place to start. My peers encouraged me to keep playing around with my work in order to create a world in themselves and this made me experiment on the stand points of what my work could possibly be and what I could achieve.
I started by using and developing from my authorship unit and the prints I did there as a source of inspiration, in particularly where I focused on woodland and forest scenes. My head of course tutor Ian Wadock was helpfully able to send me some of his personal photographs of nature and landscape scenes that I was able to use as reference photos while I was isolated in my student house. From here I began sketching and recreating little thumbnails to help me plan what I wanted to make within my sketchbook, trying out little vignettes to see what composition I liked and what worked.
Due to the facilities I had access to at home, I was limited to A4 and A5 soft cut Lino block as looking online, my preferred larger sized hard cut blocks were expensive and also took a while to deliver online. I didn’t really mind because I quite enjoyed how easy they cut and they didn’t dull my tools as much, I just miss working on bigger scales. I began to create a piece based off my earlier work of my hard cut a3 piece of a forest pathway, I was inspired by the ideology of the forest being used as a tool to represent the subconscious and wanted to create a piece that triggered something reminiscent and nostalgic in the viewer. I think the black and white I use within my work gives the piece a sense of daunting to it, as seen in other earlier printmakers such as William Blake and Arthur Rackhams work, who I studied in CP3 however i'd like to pursue coloured prints down the line if i can get hold of them online to order.
I printed it out as seen here and overall I liked the effect the tree roots had once they printed however I think because of the block like effect that linocut gives its hard to grasp a sense of depth and perspective that I was able to achieve with earlier ink drawings and illustrations and I think in this particular print wasn’t able to achieve it.
I later had a phone call with my tutor John who advised me to not stick to just A4 sizes and to play around more with dimension to give my work a more traditional and organic feel. I easily agreed as I saw It did limit me and gave the work a kind of formality I was trying to avoid.
John described my earlier sketchbook illustrations as if they were floating on the page and a piece of work in their own right, looking back I agreed as the work didn’t stick to the edges and create a sense of place through the lack of limitation sticking to a rectangle piece would bring. With the limitations in my home space in how I could print and the lack of resources available to me, I’m overall happy with the result the print came out as and It gives me hope in creating future prints and they not turning out patchy without being in a print studio.
So from here I took a second to retrospect, and see what works well within my linocut and what doesn’t so much from having collated so far a reasonable amount of work. I came to the conclusion that what I enjoyed more then anything was the detailing and the patterns within my work, being able to zoom in and appreciate the detailing rather then the bigger picture itself. So as little side project I created small detailed prints of the detailing from larger landscape pieces to see what worked well etc, I like the effect it gave in the end and wanted to continue with it as a side project. The circle frames gave the pieces coherence and concept.
In light of previous experimenting and peer feedback of previous work, I want to continue down the muddy footpath that I was beginning to head down, continuing to focus on creating work that was orientated around the pattern of nature and the detailing I could create within the pieces. Not only this, I wanted to create work in an almost spiritually, as a reflection of the landscape that I grew up in order to emit a personal response. This was in hope that I could then take a step back, and reflect on my work, recover meaning in-between its branches in order to reach a higher level of understanding. It was artist Rene Magritte who said we see the world as being outside ourselves even though it is only a mental representation of what we experience on the inside. (Magritte, R., 1985.) Its this ideology, which I studied further in my cp3 essay that I want to reflect in my work.
After making and practicing my linocut I slowly started to gain a realisation on what I was creating, and putting my work into 3 subsections. The first was horizon, creating landscape pieces that show a direct scene of an environment in its own right, pieces that can be used as establishing shots. The second avenue I was exploring experimenting with pattern and using nature and foliage as a way to making patterns that could be translated as a piece of work in their own right. Finally I was also creating prints that explored close up foliage and detailing. I think its important to clarify the different pathways my work and what they are leading towards in order not cause myself the headache and confusion. Fitting into these themes allowed myself to plan ahead and work around submissions and self directed projects I created myself. This routed off my cp3 essay as I began to gain a further understanding into how the use of forests in illustration is used to aid fictional narrative, while also conveying subtextual themes deeper than what meets the eye, in turn allowing readers to create their own personal response. I consider this research valuable to my own practice as I am interested in how an area, particularly the forest, can show memories from its past through subtle changes in its environment, while also conveying a sense of place.
In my next print I wanted to emphasise a more close up shot as I wanted to play around with close up grass and the textures you get from above, as a sort of close up piece from the work I made previously. I wanted to include a snake to break up the grass and give the piece some element of movement. I found it hard to split up the print as I had two tones to work with and ran out of linocut to add more layers. I want to experiment with colour anyway so I plan to use hand colouring after I print 10 prints. Overall I was satisfied with the prints created overall however because I used ink to colour in the print due to limited resources, the colours ended up coming out uneven. In hindsight I would in the future like to layer up linoprints in different colours to achieve depth and variance.
I wanted to keep drawing throughout this unit on the side to keep myself motivated with new ideas and inspiration, especially since i've based a lot of my prints off of past studies as a from of reference and after drawing these weeds from my student garden, it got me inspired to focus on prints that illustrated close up patterns and played around using close up leaves and fauna as patterns and designs.
It was at this point some of my ink colours that I ordered online arrived to my student house and I wanted to experiment with different colours and what I could achieve, as up until now I was experimenting frugally with the leftover cheap inks I had from authorship. On the side of this I was researching into new and different printmakers who shared an interest of using nature as their primary inspiration.
From here I wanted to use the pattern prints I just created to incorporate into a landscape scene so I can use individual studies of different fauna to orchestrate a piece of print, while at the same time seeing if I could work my prints into different forms of media. I ended up using the two little pieces of soft cut lino that I had left to create a set of two prints that relate to each other.
I had a couple of people reach out to me and ask to sell my prints printed onto the back of shirts. After trialing it I realised the block element of my work combined with its detailing, worked rather well on textiles and on clothing. So as a side project I decided to photoshop some of my designs onto clothes as a possible avenue to venture down and research after graduation as I had a few people already interested in buying them anyway.