Assignment 3 – Developing relief prints

The work in Assignment 3 consists of a selection of work from the three projects that made up the coursework for PART 3 Experimental Relief  Prints.

The work has been selected based on specific criteria. The work, along with the selection criteria are listed below in a logical order.

Task 1 (Project 8)

Select two prints of your reduction linocut which show your best ability in this technique.

The first selection should include:

  • the two prints of a reduction method linoprint
  • your brief critical statement

To support these prints you will have notes from your learning log.

Two prints of a reduction method linoprint

Notes and extracts from sketchbooks related to this exercise are here.

The assignment asks for two prints of the same edition which is what has been submitted as part of the portfolio for assessment, but only one is shown here.

Commuter line art block
Reduction linoprint, 400mm x 300mm (image size)

Critical statement

During this exercise I started to think-through and focus on the subjects and themes that were emerging from my commuter sketches. This led to an intensive phase of ideas development and design thinking that resulted in a number of Sharpie pen drawings that were combined together to form the final artwork. I think the composition of the characters works quite well, and the interplay between the man in the black jacket and the other two sets up a narrative.

I was conscious to simplify the drawing and maintain an even line, as well as using some degree of surface pattern in the design.

The final print has a number of strengths and weaknesses:

  • The cut of the lino is accurate and true to the original artwork.
  • The print registration is good even through the edges of the Japanese paper was roughly cut.
  • The reduction method was successful.
  • Unfortunately the pink colour in the final prints is very subdued and cool. I wanted a warm and vibrant pink, and hadn’t accounted for the fact that I’d be printing on top of the grey which had the effect of dumbing down the second colour.

Task 2 (Project 9)

Select two prints of your experimental mark making test linocut. Include a statement describing which tools and implements you have used.

The second selection should include:

  • the two prints of your test linocut
  • your critical statement

Two prints of the test linocut

Notes and extracts from sketchbooks related to this exercise are here.

Critical statement

The final prints are disappointing. This is because the tools I used for mark making ‘printed’ rather than ‘cut out or gouged’ marks into the lino. This resulted in the lino expanding and bending out of shape making it very difficult to pull good quality even prints.

I didn’t feel very inspired by this exercise and it shows in the final work.

Task 3 (Project 10)

Select three impressions of your coloured experimental relief print. Write a short critical statement about this print.

The third selection should include:

  • your three impressions of your experimental relief print
  • your brief critical statement

Support your work with drawings, comments and ideas for further experiments.

Three impressions of your experimental relief print

Notes and extracts from sketchbooks as well as comments and a description of the end-to-end process related to this exercise are here.

The assignment asks for three prints of the same edition which is what has been submitted as part of the portfolio for assessment, but only one is shown here.

Final print small 01
Alone together. Woodcut, 605mm x 455mm

Critical statement

The brief asked students to be adventurous and challenging with the approach they took to this exercise. I interpreted this as working with a new medium at scale with multiple blocks and colours.

I continued to develop the commuter subject and the emerging theme of being together alone.

This print represents a huge amount of work; between 60 to 80 hours of effort to create an edition of 10.

I created two single colour test prints that taught me a lot about working with the medium. I think the second test print works particularly well because it starts to exploit the strengths and qualities woodcut.

The final print has a number of strengths and weaknesses:

  • The cut which was made across four blocks is accurate and expressive and captures the energy of the original pen and ink drawings.
  • A personal voice linked back to the original sketches is evident.
  • The colour combination and hierarchy work well.
  • The printing was achieved using a combination of reduction and multi-block techniques.
  • Registration is very good; there was no wastage across the edition.
  • The downside of this print is the amount of time it took to make. By the time I’d completed the final print run I’d also managed to complete the whole of PART 4 Introducing collatype. This is not a sustainable way for me to work through the remaining coursework.


Personal assessment

The following assessment is my judgement of how I’ve performed against the Printmaking 1 Assessment Criteria including observations and areas for improvement

Printmaking 1 Assessment Criteria My assessment
Demonstration of Technical and Visual Skills – materials, techniques, observational skills, visual awareness, design and compositional skills Developing relief prints required the experimentation and application of technical skills across the whole print process;

  • cutting relief blocks using lino and wood;
  • reduction and multiblock methods;
  • planning and managing a 10-colour print at a fairly large scale;
  • dealing with different registration methods and creating different registration jigs;
  • using different weights of papers;
  • careful mixing of inks.

For the 10-colour woodcut in particular, I spent a lot of time thinking through the composition and colour hierarchy and planning the sequence of the 9 x individual print runs.

Quality of Outcome – content, application of knowledge, presentation of work in a coherent manner, discernment, conceptualisation of thoughts,communication of ideas I continue to use my Learning Log to record the thinking, development and processes leading to a final outcome for each exercise.I am careful to present each exercise as a logical progression and I’ve tried to make the content accessible and clear.
Demonstration of Creativity – imagination, experimentation, invention, development of a personal voice  It feels to me that the work I’ve developed in PART 3 is starting to have quite a distinctive look and feel. I’m very consciously developing a drawing style that I’m starting to really ‘own’ and understand; it’s quite direct and more concerned about communicating a reality rather than being an accurate representation of a subject. One the most pleasing pieces of tutor feedback from the Thames Valley Study Group was that the work has a distinctive feel; I take this as a big step towards developing a personal voice.

The theme and subject of this work is also much clearer. I started to develop and think through what it is about commuters and the experience of commuting that I find interesting. I used mindmapping in Exercise 1 Reduction method linocutting to explore this area. The more I’ve thought about it and really looked at the experience, the more fascinating the subject has become. It is a real gold mine of material.

There were some key phrases that I picked up from my PART 2 Tutor feedback that I think go to the heart of where I think I need to develop further, and I’ll respond to these directly here:

For development around ideas I would spend some time reflecting further on the meaning and intention of your images.

The meaning of the commuter studies are simply to reflect and explore the strange sociology that exists when thousands of commuters are crammed together like sardines on their daily journey to and from work. One theme that has surfaced is how much technology; smart phones, tablets, laptops, iPods etc. are being used to even further make the commuting experience a solitary and closed-off experience. The idea of being alone together. The irony is that this is happening in  a situation where people a crammed together in tight spaces.

Another theme that is a consequence of packing so many people together is the body language which can be incredibly amusing and incongruent and would be completely weird in any other situation.

I would also reflect further on what you
are saying to a viewer/audience and why.

This is a more difficult question. I think what I’m doing in this work is surfacing and reflecting behaviour and situations that exist every day. I would like to shed a bit of light on the phenomenon. I’m increasingly concerned about the use (and harms) associated with the overuse of technology and this is no where clearer than on a packed commuter train.

Context – reflection, research, critical thinking (learning log) I continue to reflect on the successes and challenges of each exercise.

I attended the OCA Thames Valley Study Group and reviewed all of outputs for both Assignment 3 and Assignment 4. Engaging with other students and tutor was helpful in validating and challenging how I think about my work, what is seen as successful and where there are areas to develop.

I visited the ‘All too human’ exhibition at Tate Britain and enjoyed the work of Lucian Freud and large paintings by Paula Rego. There are lessons for me in the  way she composes the characters in her large scale paintings from the 1990s which are full of meaning and intent.

It occurred to me that there is a long tradition of artists just reflecting the social conditions and situation of the time they’re living in. Edgar Degas is an example of an artist that used monoprinting to record the 19th century middle classes in Paris going about their daily business. The work I’ve produced for this assignment falls into this genre.

Pointers from previous tutor report and how these have been addressed

Pointers What I did
Continue to reflect on the wider context of your work, keep asking yourself why
and what is it about?
As per the comments in the section above, I feel much clearer about the subjects and themes that I’m exploring in my work.

I need to think more about the wider context, although I suspect this will naturally happen over time as long as I keep visiting exhibitions and engaging with fellow students.

Continue your development of themes and personal voice in your artwork to
give meaning to your making.
I feel like I’m starting to ‘own’ an approach to making work that is distinctive and clearly my own.

The themes are also developing although I still feel like there is a lot for me still to explore.

Use your ability to sketch to work out imagery. This is an interesting area. My ability to draw and the way I draw is the starting point for this work. I do need to ensure that I spend enough time drawing and developing ideas. For example, I stopped going to life drawing classes in April and I feel like I need to pick this up again in September to give me ‘quality time’ to just focus on drawing.
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