Monoprints revisited

Now that my studio is packed up and sitting in tents in the garden, barring one easel that won’t fold flat, and the drawers of paints that might not survive a dip in temperature, I’m tackling monoprints again in a ‘my way or no way’ way. The image is of a 1096 metre long train called The Ghan which crosses Australia from Adelaide to Darwin through some stupifyingly beautiful territory, taken from my TV screen – a photo of a video in motion which absolutely called for it to be framed at an angle. The ground looks like Mars, the sky thin and blue like the smallest thread of atmosphere, and the black edge of the TV at the top can be nothing else but deep space.

To make the prints, I’m using a base of white cartridge primed with transparent primer, acrylic paints mixed with slow dry medium, and strips of baking paper to pull off the layers as each is applied. I’m also giving it a judicious squirt from a water bottle periodically.

19th October and some more layers; this time adding definition to the train, although I seem to have made it wider than it should be, and picking out the grey/green/khaki scrub in the landscape.

I was hoping this might be editable to circular as tondo is coming up soon and it might be a handy tool for a dry run. Seems not though. Still, it makes for an interesting crop.

23rd October and I realised I had the carriage perspective all wrong – these things are at an angle, they don’t describe verticals on the eye. After a coat of white primer, I’ve begun again to mark out the train and adjust the angle of appearance.

I’m almost to a halt with this now, at least until I have a bit more space, but I’ve achieved what I set out to do which was to make prints on baking paper that would hang in front of a source of light. The angle is poor at the moment and I’ll adjust that later for a proper look, again when I have a bit of space. For the moment though, one painting on A1 cartridge and three strip prints on baking paper hanging from string across the back window.

The train is too big, even scaled up, and not nearly electric enough in its colours. It also has a larger profile at its vanishing point than in the photograph so all of that needs adjustment. But I have the principle of multiple layers printed onto baking paper that, backlit, have a quality of their own. I can take this forward into later practice.

An incidental discovery is that, while there is just enough room for my easel between the desk and the window, the book case and the TV, there’s no room to step back and look at the painting. So until the new conservatory/studio is ready to occupy, I’ll need to either arrange things differently or hold on until I don’t need to. And at least I know this is a realistic prospect, unlike some of my peers who are working in much more cramped conditions with much less hope for any change. Let’s call this a hiatus rather than the end product.

25th October. These two images show the printed baking paper in its two states – the first with the paint on the near surface so that the image is reversed right to left; the other with the paint on the reverse which maintains the original composition but makes the viewer see it through the slight haze of the paper.

Paint surface with texture.
Smooth surface with paint on the other side.

These are backgrounded with white cartridge to how up the paint but I think I prefer the effect of light. When the conservatory is back, the windows may be big enough to accommodate them for a better view than pegged to string as they were earlier.

The Ghan: Australia’s Greatest Train Journey. BBC Four documentary. First shown October 2018. Subsequent showing September 2020 and as of today’s date (18/10/2020) it expires in just two days. Link to iPlayer

This is the same video titled and captioned for a German speaking audience.

New artist name: No Wei Wei

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