Monday, August 5, 2013

Printing up a storm

For the longest time I have been using paper palets when working with acrylic paints. They are handy and don't require cleaning. They are also nice and flat and I have come to make a habit of using this trait for some impromptu printing on scraps of paper while I'm painting something else. By that I mean that I will use left over paint on the palet,  sometimes spread it out with a brush, make some marks in it and then lay a piece of paper over it and it prints the pattern on to the paper. The results can look like this:

It's fun and it's a great way to not let any paint go to waste.

A thing I had never done though so far was use this simple technique on purpose just for a session of printing papers. So that's what I decided to do this weekend. I wanted a slightly bigger surface than my paper palet to work with, but I figured anything flat would do. Now it just so happens that in my job I often have to file reports and stuff and they always have these acetate covers that don't go into the files but get tossed. Instead of tossing them I sometimes take a bunch of them home, because as we all know, mixed media artists can make use of everything. ;-) I thought this time they would make a wonderful flat surface for my printing. And so they did (I only used one for the entire session and it worked fine).

Here's the result or the first batch, done in acrylics:

Now are these cool or what? I couldn't believe it myself. Of course these are the result of several layers on top of each other. Now, I'd explain the process to you, but nothing is so original or somebody else has already done it and this time I'll just refer you to the wonderful Jennibellie, who did a video on what she calls faux gel printing (for those of us who don't have access to an actual gelli printing plate). It's basically the same thing. I used some different techniques for making marks and structures and of course used acetate as my surface instead of a craft mat, but the principle is exactly the same.  You can find the vid here.

Some things I did for structures/patterns:
  • Draw into the paint with a palet knive (it leaves thicker lines than a cocktail stick or the back of a brush).
  • Use the brayer to make patterns.
  • Cut another piece of acetate into strips or rectangles or other shapes and use these as masks for your print. 
  • Use a comb or fork or whatever to draw repetitive lines across the surface. I used a special structure comb for paint, but really that's not necessary, use what you have. If you go over it again sideways you get structures like the one on the bottom right. I fell in love with that one. 
  • There's no reason you can't print/stamp on top of your prints. I used the masks as stamps for instance, but you could also use caps of bottles, toilet rolls or just regular stamps.
  • Print only part of the paper. Lay the paper on the acetate sideways or at an angle. 
  • Do ghost prints. After you did your first print, spritz the surface with water and print again. 
  • Layer, layer, layer. The first prints looked like rubbish really, but when you layer several rubbish prints on top of each other, you get some very interesting effects. 
  • Print through stencils. The stencil serves as a mask and leaves a pattern on the paper.
After being so happy with the above acrylic prints I started to wonder what would happen if I spritzed the acetate with some spray inks and printed those. Well...this:

Oooh, I know! These are Dylusions spray inks. I only have a few colours, but they are my favorite colours and I love how these came out. The ones where you can see an alphabet or stars and honeyrates showing through is where afterwards I took a stencil and a babywhipe and wiped through the stencil. Because the ink is watersoluble you pick it up again and it leaves this ghostly mark of the pattern. Really nice.

There's not much to this technique really. Just spray to your liking on the acetate, maybe make some marks in it (although of course ink is much less easy to manipulate because it's so much more fluid) and print away.

One thing I did take from Jennibellie is to put a big piece of paper under my working surface and make sure I used it to clean my brayer and stencils and  mark making stuff (I even sometimes printed directly on it with the left over paint on the acetate sheet). It left a very saturated colourful surface at the end of my session that I cut up into smaller pieces. Here's what I wound up with: 

So even your worksurface can give you pretty papers! See how nothing goes to waste here? I love that!
I can tell you I was one very happy artsy girl at the end of this afternoon of printing. A very happy artsy girl with paint all over her that is. ;-)

Well, I hope this post gives you some ideas to do your own printing and also makes you realize you don't really need anything fancy to do some printing. Use what you have, experiment and see what happens. Enjoy!

Wishing you all a wonderful and artsy week!