Developing Collagraph Prints

As part of the developmental process in collagraph printing I decided to explore the other techniques shared in the student guidance, these included using poly filler to create a textured surface and another medium called Carborundum, which is a fine grit like sand.


I wasn’t quite sure how to use the carborundum so managed to find some you tube videos online to help me understand the process. I added glue to the surface of the board using a stiff bristled brush and attempted to create some texture in this process. I then added the carborundum over the top by gently shaking a fine pattering over the top. I allowed it to dry for 24 hours however some of the carborundum was still loose on the very top surface so when I added the ink with the roller it picked up the carborundum along the way.

I printed the first using the thicker zerkall paper and applied quite a bit of pressure to the surface, unfortunately the print is slightly off centre which is a shame but I do like the texture it has created. I then used the thinner shoji paper to pick up the last residue of the ink on the board which has given a very fine textured pattern. I decided to use black ink only for this print as I wanted to focus on the texture it created first.

Poly Filler

Next I moved on to using poly filler to create a textured surface. This example felt a little more straight forward especially as I have used poly filler in home D.I.Y before, I was familiar with the texture and nature of this material. I used a palette knife to move the material across the board and then used the pointed edge of the knife to carve deeper markings into the poly filler to create different textures.

I also decided to experiment with colour in this print and used the three primary colours – inspired by Piet Mondrian. I mixed the colours slightly on the board though using the sponge so there is a mix across the print.

Developing Ideas

Looking at the research I had conducted on abstract artists including: Wassily Kandinsky, Willem De Kooning and Piet Mondrian I began to explore my own practice and relationship with abstract expressionism. I had already made links between my own abstract paintings which used life drawing sketches as jumping off points to the works of Willem De Kooning who although produced abstract expressionist work, also incorporated humanistic forms. I looked at some recent life drawing sketches of mine and decided to experiment with the shapes and line of the body by tracing over them.

I traced the lower torso and then repeated the shapes as a haphazard pattern across the page.

Then I began to experiment with colour in a similar way to Wassily Kandinsky. I started using bold colours filling the entire page and then added white to create muted tones focussing only on the shapes and then in the final image a very thin wash over the drawings (unfortunately this hasn’t scanned very well, the colour looks more vibrant in real life).

I repeated this process using a different life drawing, focusing more on the upper torso encompassing angular shoulders and this time filling the page.

Again unfortunately the most subtle layer hasn’t scanned very well, but I used a very pale blue wash over the surface of the line drawings. I then worked back over the colour and shapes using a black pen to pick out the line and shape.

I have worked in a similar way previously in creating a series of abstract paintings. I began with the life drawings and pulled out the shapes and lines of the human form, painting an expressionist abstract response to this. In the next layer I worked over this with clean lines and shapes to accentuate the under layer.

I decided for this final assignment I would work in a similar way utilising the textured surface of the poly filler and then using the collagraph made using objects to add a more bold layer over the top. I enjoyed working with the poly filler more so than the carborundum so used poly filler instead.

From experimenting with the Test Collagraph Block I decided I definitely wanted to use the pennies and washers to add the floating shapes to the composition as they printed very well. I considered using string for the lines and to connect each element however I thought that I needed something a little more bold so opted for the textured fabric. I cut the segments into curved shapes and played around with how each component connected to one another before settling on the final arrangement.

For these two prints I have created them using the poly filler board and adding a green hue and then once dry a yellow/golden colour over the top, I really liked the effect it created so decided not to add the additional layer on top and instead leave them as they are. I used a round sponge to add the printing ink and I think this has resulted in a really nice texture. Using the shoji paper has also provided a really subtle print which has picked up on the delicacies of the textured poly filler.

I continued to experiment with the two-layer colour process and used the zerkall paper which has given a bolder impression. The red and green print was also produced using the first green layer and then a red layer which is a ghost print of another where I had used masking. You can see the red is not consistent across the whole surface and has only printed where the masks were then removed after the first print.

The red base layer print is the first masked print I produced, I purposefully cut circles to echo the top layer of pennies and washers and placed them across the board. I also experimented with adding two top layers which were printed in different directions. Sadly I had misplaced the blue layer so it has travelled outside of the main printing area, although this has prompted me to consider this printing technique where artists purposefully print in this way and I think this may be something I explore in the final assignment of “Introduction to Printmaking”.

Here are a couple of examples of the top layer printed alone.

Here is also a clear example of using the masks to produce the print and then the subsequent ghost print.

Lastly, here are the final prints as intended, the textured under layer using the poly filler and then the top layer using bold shape and line. I have used green as my primary jumping off point and then experimented with other complimentary colours. I think the final prints work well here with the calming green and deep purple over the top. The different papers have also produced quite different results, both with their own merit.

I have chosen these final four prints as my most successful from developing Collagraph prints.

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