5.2 Investigating combination printmaking and incorporating chine collé collages

The purpose of this exercise was to make three small contrasting prints using one or more chine collé method.

Keywords from the brief:

  • You can choose to be representational in your design, or simply experiment with the process to make an abstract image
  • Pay careful attention to the relationship between the paper or metal leaf you are using and the glue or gum with which you use
  • Work fairly quickly before your glue or paste dries
  • Make a print that will become the background to the chine Collé print
  • Prepare a printing block or use one from an earlier project
  • Make at least a further three prints incorporating the chine collé technique
  • Make notes about the process and how you can see opportunities to develop this printmaking technique

Research

Find some examples of good use of chine collé in printmaking and share them with other OCA printmakers via the forum, or make notes in your learning log.

The examples of good use of chine collé that I’ve selected consist mostly of a combination with either drypoint or etching.

The technique is used in a variety of ways;

  • To add a subtle consistent colour across a broad area
  • To add a vibrant colour either as a visual component in its own right, or to provide a coloured fill to a drawn or etched object
  • To be a ‘found’ collage object such as the page of a newspaper

Approach

I created a number of drawings and paintings in the previous exercise that I wanted to test/develop to see if/how they would translate into a series of prints.

I chose to work in an approximately A5 format which is a lot smaller that any of the prints I’ve created to date. This was partly because I liked the fluid mark making and expression that came from the series of small scale thumbnail sketches from Exercise 5.1, and because this seemed like a manageable size to work with chine collé for the first time.

The thumbnails are effective because they were made quickly and automatically, and I wanted to explore this technique further.

I used drypoint, because having worked with this technique on a couple of occasions in the past, I know the range of marks that are possible. The method I used involved scratching and scoring lines into a 2mm sheet of perspex.

I created three different drypoint plates. Two were developments of the commuter studies/drawings made during the previous exercise, and the third came from the puppet/commuter/masks subjects explored during Exercise 1.3 Two-coloured masked monoprints.

My objectives for this exercise:

Experiment with chine collé as per the brief:

  • Understand the process and apply the technique to a series of small scale prints
  • Experiment with different Japanese papers and tissue papers
  • Explore chine collé application techniques and see what works for me
  • See what and how the different colours and textures work in the different images

Investigate the use of drypoint:

  • How do large (A2) sketches and paintings scale down and translate into and A5(ish) sized drypoint?
  • How do A6 (ish) sized thumbnail sketches scale up, and how do lines and tones (using cross-hatching) translate into drypoint?
  • Could I use/adapt this technique for Exercise 5.3

Tone of voice, visual treatment:

  • Does this combination of techniques work to combine into something that is more than the sum of the parts?
  • What does it add to the portrayal of the subject and/or the viewers reading of the image?

Creative development

The two commuters and commuting prints were based on drawings/paintings created during the development of ideas for the previous exercise.

For these prints there was no further development of ideas. The creativity and experimentation was in how these translated into drypoint and chine collé prints.

The puppet characters/masks and commuter ideas for the third print were generated quickly as a series of thumbnails and were an extension of the themes developed during the previous exercises.

EPSON MFP image
A3 sketchbook – series of exploratory thumbnails

Creating the blocks and printing

I used the same technique for creating each of the three drypoint plates.

I photographed and reversed the source drawing/painting and reduced the size to fit the perspex plate. I like using clear perspex because there is no need to transfer the image to the plate; you can just fix the reference image to the back of the plate and work directly on top of it gouging and scratching marks into the perspex using an etching needle.

Each plate took about an hour to create and I consciously tried a different approach to how I made the marks for each in order to test and learn for future projects.

The printing

The printing was done at Kew Studios using the large press in two back-to-back studio sessions. The ink used was Intaglio DryPoint black ink with Extender, and the chine collé collage used a variety of Japanese tissues and ‘ordinary’ acid free tissue paper.

I didn’t pre-cut any of the collage paper in advance although I had a good idea of what I wanted.

The method I used to cut the delicate tissue paper was to photocopy copies of the scaled reference artwork of each image and use these as templates. The tissue paper was placed on top of the template on a cutting mat, and I used a brand new scalpel blade to cut out the collage shapes.

It was quite a delicate process but more manageable than I imagined.

I had watched a number of Youtube videos demonstrating different gluing techniques and I decided to use spray mount, simply because I use it a lot and understand it’s foibles.

The difficult part was placing the glued tissue in place on top of the inked plate. I found it very fiddly, particularly when applying a number of different elements to the same plate.

The final print series

The final print series resulted in some good learnings that I intend to take forward in to the final exercise.

Questions

Can you find alternative materials to incorporate in your print? Were some materials more suitable than others?

  • I didn’t really explore using different materials in these prints.
  • I did explore different types of tissue paper. I bought a pack of Japanese tissue paper offcuts from Intaglio which are beautiful in their own right, and as well as providing colour also add texture to an image.

Reflections

A more detailed assessment against tutor feedback can be found here.

What went well

  • The generation of ideas for this exercise was heavily informed by tutor feedback. I really wanted to try and push the subjects in a more interesting and challenging direction, and I wanted to use drawing through the rapid development of thumbnail sketches as the method. I think this worked well as a technique although I need to push it much further.
  • I was asked to take risks with the image development. I did this by continuing to crash together the masks/puppets and commuter themes. This is leading in new directions and hopefully making the final prints more engaging. As with the use of thumbnails, I need to push this much further.
  • Looking at and reflecting on the work of Paula Rego, the etchings of Marcelle Hanselaar (particularly the series of 30 x prints titled The Crying Game) and the photography of Walker Evans (his three-year study of people on the New York subway), has shaped my thinking and provided new avenues of investigation.
  • The combination of drypoint and chine collé has some strengths and qualities that I would like to develop. I really like the mark making and quality of line that drypoint gives and chine collé provides a rapid and fairly predictable way of adding colour and texture.
  • It’s a relatively quick combination to work with.
  • I’m interested in trying a combination of drypoint (for quality of line), collatype (to provide tone and texture), and chine collé for areas of flat colour.
  • The black acid free tissue gives an intense and even black that I can’t achieve by ink alone.

What I would do differently/better

  • More drawing, and finding of ways to disrupt and challenge my thinking in order to generate new and unexpected visual solutions and to take more risks.
  • I don’t think the subjects and themes work strongly enough. More development is needed.
  • Too much cross hatching (like in the first drypoint print of the series), doesn’t work.