Pressing on

Some things you can teach yourself (get drawing materials, start drawing), at least to some extent, but others require dedicated facilities, more specialist equipment and instruction. For example, being self-taught without access to such facilities, I’ve never learned printmaking, though I am intrigued by the various processes and how these can fit into my practice. A whole new layer of installation components would be possible, plus of course I might be able to make affordable objects that people would buy (it’s not about the money for most artists, myself included, but we need some…)

So, I’m just about to finish the Beginners & Improvers printmaking course at Red Hot Press, where we’ve covered linocut, cardcut, drypoint, monoprint and etching, and I also learned some basic screenprinting. It’s been fascinating to go through the systematic processes needed for each of these – recipes that I hope to be able to combine, tweak and experiment with as I gain more experience. A huge hole in what I know how to do is starting to be filled. I have a few (such as the Foot Archer drypoint which is in the slideshow below and features the current world record holder) that I’m really happy with and which other people like, to the extent I think I could sell these. Others, such as the Stelarc ear-on-arm cardcut I found more challenging but are being incorporated into mixed media and collage, and ultimately into installation work. The challenge here is not the original image (I know I can draw, hence the drypoint working well), but the choice of technique, the simplification needed for relief prints, the discipline and protocols of printmaking, and balancing this against experimentation and free expression.

There’s more to come on this topic, hopefully a lot more. I’m only at the start, but aim to do further work and courses through Red Hot Press, in particular using found objects, collographs (which may also use such materials) and abstraction – and of course practising my new skills before they get rusty. For now, here’s a selection of images sampling the output of my first foray into printmaking.

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