I started practicing the monotypes using my ink portraits from the previous exercise. I found the process fun to first paint on glass over the original and then make a print. I used glass because I had a piece for a palette. I started with yellow for highlights and a darker colour for shadows and painted the shadows first. It reminded me of colouring in a kids colouring book. The prints have a dry brushed quality and flat with little depth. I feel unsure about what needs extra paint once the print is done because they are consistently painted leaving me to touch all of it. This is partly down to there being very little differences in value in the ink painting. I try adding more to the shadow where the original had more and this didn’t help in most cases. I tried removing paint from the eyes (on the glass) which I found helped create instant focus on the eyes and made the face feel like it was looking harder at me. I then felt the yellow was not adding to the print and removed it leaving no paint. I found using more solvent helped bleed colours and to lesson the brush strokes creating a sponged effect. The less solvent meant more of the brush strokes remained visible. It seems that the type of paper used for printing affects the result. I’ve used mostly silver printing paper at 250gsm which comes out lighter than using thiner drawing paper at 100gsm which absorbs more paint.
Then I decided to try using a photo of someone else. This lead me to try applying more solvent to the background to create pattern and less focus on the brushwork. Then to use less solvent on the face to get sharper brushwork showing the facial features. I found too much paint on the face resulted in loosing the features, even though it looked ok on the glass the print came out too dark. Like Eleanor Moreton I used a large brush for the background with a darker value and a smaller brush with lighter value for the face and body. I love some of the unintended effects for example where the paint had more solvent mixed in the background resulted in a sponged effect. With sufficient paint and solvent the effect had a wet look with lines joining the dots, with less the effect became drier and dotty. The sharpe brushed lines on the jacket came out lighter than expected but the lines create an interesting delicate pattern that is flat and feels like clothing.
I considered simplifying the face to features like Annie Kevans however this is harder than it looks. I felt I needed to paint more of the wrinkles and facial lines than just the eyes nose and mouth. The result feels more a caricature. I think I needed the blue to be a lower value so that the eyes and mouth stand out more and the background a touch lighter. I tried again and this time kept the background blank and most of the face, then using a pale red paint the shadows on the face. This came out much better with greater likeness than many of the others.
Whilst doing this exercise I tried to drawing the portrait using marks similar to how I’d paint it and found it useful to get a feel for how I might do more sketches like this. Although it did have more detail than was necessary.
Exercise 3.3 Removing paint
I tried removing paint using a soft rag with a bit of solvent from the eyes and mouth like Yuko Nasu however being on glass there was little trace of what was. I did try a light touch and managed to get a swirl effect distorting the eye. Certainly leaving eyes and other areas blank helped make them standout in print.
I used rough rag on the clothes resulting in streaks like a dry brush. I used tissue paper to remove highlight on nose, eyes, cheeks and ear. I used cotton buds along wrinkles and in the background, I used paint moving stick for hair giving a sharper line. On the last I painted the whole area one colour then removed highlights with various items, like a rag, cotton bud, brush with varying amounts of solvent. The result is striking and reminds me of the earlier work in assignment 1 where white was painted on dark ground. Using different things to remove paint creates contrasting marks. The vertical blurred wavy background helps bring the portrait forward. The sharper curved lines of the clothes helps frame the portrait.
The following are some of the prints I rejected mostly because they didn’t have enough contrast or detail.
Exercise 3.4 Adding paint
I selected the last print with removed highlights to try adding a layer of warm darker paint to create more definition and contrast. Unfortunately I forgot to photograph the original print. I liked the way the brush marks flowed in the neck and onto the jacket and also the way it flows around the eye drawing attention to it. It feels soft and more like a print with a second print on top.
I selected the simplified painting (based on Annie Kevans) and tried to create greater likeness by defining the eyes and mouth stronger leaving the rest of the face untouched. Also adding more definition to the clothes by crossing against the original brush marks. This feels less like a print.
I found the first print with the sponge effect background more interesting and wanted to try creating more definition. I maintained the dry brush work around the eyes and more to the hair to create the definition. I also blended more paint into the neck. The eyes draw the focus then the mouth which I left mostly untouched. This is more intense with both a strong background and face.