Screenprinting is a challenging medium to work in I have found. It traditionally lends itself to imagery and has firmly routed itself as a medium that is at home in graphic design. Imagery is potent communicator - especially when information is required (I wonder sometimes that visual communication will always mean "information" is being signalled in some way..)
As painter who works with colour as surface it was all the more daunting a prospect to undertake. Over the course of a week, I worked at The Print Studio Cambridge with Kip Gresham - master printer and one of the leading printmakers in the country. The set up was eye-opening with great facilities. I was particularly struck by how much like lithography screen printing could be with the latest technological advances (so much of which have been pioneered by Kip). Positive marks and washes like a watercolour can know be converted into "negative" screens for printmaking and some amazing wash effects, brushstrokes and lines can be achieved.
There was almost too many options for me to absorb. As a artist I never work with a preconceived design (not a good start for this session you could say). I had been making a large number of collages and used some of the formats that had been developed in them as starting strategies rather than definite ideas.
I tend to gravitate to the simplest methods and in this work saw no reason to change, looking at torn or cut edges (cut by hand or trimmer). The work moved at a very fast pace (another shock was just how fast ink dries - minutes - seconds even with a hairdryer). Many of the prints have well over 10 layers in them as a result.
My notions of colour changed as fast as the structures that I employed to support it - "stacked" areas dissolved into fields of multilayered colour with transparent washes flowing over shapes, masking out or part-leaving previous passages, creating new configurations and wildly different colour qualities. Kip was very keen for me to explore transparency and pushed me further and further into this territory (this was a difficult transition for I am so used to, rather more comfortable with, opaque colours in my paintings, and I simply haven't dealt with this degree of transparency before.
Eventually I found that the battleground for these prints was in fact the edges. Ink is so uniform when applied by a squeegee that areas can become inert without contrast or incident. I made some new screens up utilising the brushstrokes made possible by Kip's"Truegrain" film - and started using melds, shapes and linear elements, coupled with transparencies playing off opacity, I found a rich vocabulary to play with and felt energised by the work and also began to see how it could feed back into my painting.
I have uploaded all the work which can be categorised loosely into 3 suites, which I have titled "stacks", "bands" and "tilts" in relation to their appearance and key elements.
It was a memorable experience and I hope to make more later in the year. It has also fuelled a desire to invest in some printmaking equipment such as an etching press to further explore the medium.