After a lapse of 30 years I am back in the printmaking studio, wondering why it has taken me so long to return. In the past I worked in etching and engraving, falling in love with the delicate possibilities of dry-point. Now I am working on mono-prints, the first time I have really explored colour in printmaking. I am using fairly new waterbased inks called Akua, and I am still reserving judgement. The cleanup is incredibly easy and they are beautifully workable but I am not sure they will be vibrant enough for me in the end. I am told the manufacturer is always refining the formulas. They technically never dry, are just absorbed into the paper, so they are already softer and more nuanced than when first pulled from the press.
In viscosity printing the control comes with varying the heaviness of the inks, which resist each other more or less depending on how apart they are on the viscosity scale. The thinner or more "jelly" layer will resist blending with the thicker "peanut butter" ink, and inks that are more alike will blend together more. The viscosity is manipulated by adding agents to stiffen or loosen the ink.
I have been thinking for a long time about this project, which parallels my painting interests in exploring line and shape as both solid and fugitive, atmosphere and particle, repelled and connected to each other in various contexts that make up ineffable intellectual and emotional situations. With a little squeeze bottle it is possible to draw on the plate in the thin line I am imagining. Successive printings of the plate build up history that normally takes weeks or months on a canvas. The inks can also be rolled or brushed on, wiped off, masked off with stencils and masks, and the ghosts can be printed on over and over. The huge rollers used to ink the colour that becomes the ground can be in turn be rolled over a fresh plate. In the day that I have to explore this I am just beginning to grasp possibilities for myself.
Printing in reverse shows me clearly the left side bias I have worked so hard to mitigate in my work(I am very left eye dominant, and that subject may be another blog). It was a hard battle for me to accept just how much my brain controlled things organically. I thought for a long time that painting had to be a battle of will.