Bringing Art Making Into Your Life
Art is about making something and reacting for or against it. That is how you start to build upon a simple idea. It doesn’t have to be a process of extreme angst. Just make something, do more of the bit you thought was working and make something else. Then another. You follow the thread of you own ideas.
In my last post I suggested that one of the cures [solutions?] for feeling a bit stuck and aimless in your art was indeed not to try to do something ‘Good’. It was to play and enjoy. Maybe try a new medium. I decided to take my own advice. My husband had bought me a screenprinting [ or silkscreening] kit for my recent birthday. For some reason not too long ago I had an urge to do some screenprinting. I have been known to noodle about with a lino cut and in the past I have done quite a bit of printmaking, like etching and wood cuts. But I’d never tried screenprinting. I felt like doing a method of printing where you can create repetition easily and for that I think screenprinting is the winner.
If you are trying a new medium like charcoal or conte, then you basically just get a piece of paper and go for it, but if you’re planning on trying a more technical medium, where you kind of do need to know what you are doing then ideally it’s fun do a class. But if you can’t find/afford/get to a class then my approach to a new medium tends to be something like this:
Number 3 is really important. Every time you approach a new medium you learn about the way to do it, but sometimes we don’t spend enough time thinking about how that medium will intercept our ideas. What specific ways this medium will affect how we work.
Let’s think about screenprinting for a moment.
But thinking about it like this is still more information about how, more than what.
My next pile of thinking is why do I like it?
I mentioned earlier in point 2 that I like to get lots of differing [conflicting] opinions on what you can and can’t [or should and shouldn’t do]. I like this because you end up with a much more full sense of how it all works. For example one of the books I read, talks only about creating screens using photo emulsion. And yet you can also use stencils made from paper, acetate, or even paint directly onto the screen with a blocking agent. The book is obviously coming from the point of professional screenprinting and there’s a lot more to it than that.
Now I know some of you are thinking, wasn’t this supposed to be about play? Where’s the play? Ah well you see this is playing with purpose: because I find that if I sit down in front of any medium with no idea at all that, that’s all I will be doing. Sitting. So the play comes in for me by picking a fun idea, one that has been flopping round in my head for a while. But also since I have never done screenprint before, I want to try it out, but on something I actually like.
My bathroom has, in decorating terms, an extremely ugly shower screen. Some kind of bobbly yellow glass from the sixties. But a while ago I noticed that the pattern is really interesting. It looks like random lines and shapes at first, but the more you look at it, it starts to look like some kind of written language, like cuneiform or an alien language. When I’m in the shower I spend quite a lot of time picking out patterns and blocks of forms.
Above: the ugly [beautiful] bobbly glass.
Above: first I tried frottage [rubbing over it with a crayon on paper ], but that didn’t capture it at all.
So next I just looked at it and pulled some of the shapes I liked best. I played with the composition and ended putting them together in block, like it’s a sign, or a statement in this imaginary alien language.
Above: The final composition.
I cut out two stencils: one for the black and one for the pink. I did the black first then the pink. I didn’t really worry about registering it properly, I just eyeballed it. So they aren’t lined up perfectly. That’s ok in this because there are no places where one colour has to sit neatly inside the other.
Above: I like the bits where the colour is missing. It adds texture.
Above: The image still wet. There is about 8 sets of the same letters on the one piece of paper.
The point of this playing was to both have fun and learn a bit about screenprinting. So at the end of screenprint number one I have learnt a few things. The first couple of points are technical:
I also learnt a few things artistically:
I don’t think I like what I made that much but that’s ok because now I have a bit of an idea of what I will do next. I can use the things I learnt to inform my process both technically and how it will intercept my ideas. So try something new, don’t take it too seriously. If you screw it up it doesn’t matter, you will have found something out. Don’t forget to have fun.