Photographic Screen Printing
Welcome to my first ever blog post! Thanks for coming to find this. I thought that I would start to record some of the processes and techniques that I work with and share these here on my website. I hope you find some of the information useful and of interest. I will endeavour to provide links to resources where possible and would encourage you to make contact via one of the social networking sites or the contact form should you have any specific queries. You can find this under the “About” menu.
My work is continuously influenced by the natural world, and my current preoccupation is working with the natural materials of wood, metal and stone and the interaction that takes place between these and celestial symbols. The pieces consider the relationship between the physical and the spiritual. I am naturally drawn to these physical, earthly materials as symbols of stability and grounding and find that they recur in visual representations of my environment. I am interested in combining both the materials themselves, alongside drawn, painted and printed versions within my work.
While looking for new techniques to work within this theme, I opted to attend a photographic screen printing course at Hot Bed Press, an open access print workshop in Manchester. I am keen to develop my skills in this area not only for my two dimensional pieces, but also to support development of my artist books. The course was also being tutored by a friend and ex-student of my university course, so it was a good excuse for a catch up too!
I used the Brushes 3.0 app on the iPad to design the image for the screen print, working with imported photographs and drawing on top of the image both digitally and by hand once this was printed out. The hands on approach with this app allows the process of drawing to feel more natural than working with other apps that I have tried. The key to developing a successful design for a screen print is to avoid grey scale and to work primarily with black and white. High contrast images work particularly well and in photo screen printing, even fine details will be apparent once the screen has been used. The ink on the final screen will be pushed through the black areas of the design and the white areas will be blocked. You can see two examples of the screen printed with a mixed ink background below, to replicate the surface of stone…
Once the screen had been prepared, we were able to use some time to create backgrounds for our photographic screen to be printed onto. We used newsprint paper to create stencils, and once these were attached to a screen, were able to print different shapes onto paper. My first stencils involved using overlapping circles to fit behind the image of the tree. Once the photographic print was placed on top of this, the circles became less pronounced, allowing only glimpses of the previous design to show through due to the translucency of the printing ink used with the photo screen and the areas that were blocked off by the tree design.
Finally, I experimented with using collaged paper to print onto. I used marbled papers that I had produced before the workshop, and metal leaf that I had applied onto the collage. As the ink was pulled through the screens onto the collaged paper, a halo was created where the collage prevented the ink from contacting the white paper. The metal leaf retained its shine and was evident even when the screen prints entirely covered the metallic discs. The effect was interesting… and unpredictable! Reminiscent of a solar eclipse.