Circling Around

by maggie

This post is about the project that was going to be my summer (out of the studio) project, with plenty of time to get a minimalist Mokuhanga under my belt and its the last weekend of August and I’ve only just got the proofs printed. This little project is a little leaf on the very end of a tenuous branch of investigation with it’s roots in all sorts of places.

Some time in the spring I had an idea of how to utilise on of my Silent books to further the cause of the Pebble theme. I have in my mussing on Rock: Paper, Scissor filled many spreads with circles in rectangles, so why not devote a whole volume to ‘circles in rectangles’ It took a few days to set up the parameters and then it was (and continues to be, I’m only up to Chapter 10) an exercise in colour and proportion.

These more ‘abstract’ pebbles also have some basis in the RA’s show particular this painting.
If nothing else this book has taught me brushwork and patience, oh and just how terrible cheap poster paint can be.
Then the annual Awagami International Miniature Print Exhibition (AIMPE) was promoted around the studio and I thought that’s something I could do over the summer; already for the 2018 entry deadline.
Perhaps something in circles and rectangles?
However, the major criteria for AIMPE is the work need to be on A4 paper, and that can be such and awkward shape… How should the print (the rectangle*) relate to the paper and how how the circle(s) relate to the rectangle. *Lets just stick with circles in rectangles for now. All other juxapositions can wait for volume III.
In my silent book the rectangle is related to the size of page and the circle(s) bob around within that. But what ratio of rectangle would be best for A4? Presumably the one that’s best for the composition. But what?
I even set up a whole sketch book to investigate circle / part of circle, rectangle relationships. (I’ll let you in on a secret: I have a whole dresser draw full of empty books waiting to be filled, and trouble keeping track of the hath empty ones too.) But my first idea seemed to have legs and I went with that. augDSecond and third ideas will go in that book.

In my head I called the composition Chalice, or Cauldron, but I think the Official title with be ‘rectangle with circles no. 1’ so such like. It took a while to finalise the design, first digital sketching, then colour sketches, technical drawing and hitting the inter webs to work out the radius of the larger circle (260mm).

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It was only then I realised that I’d have to cut that curve, by hand. Luckly the Bottomless Cupboard of Art has a trammel which will draw circles up to a 1 meter radius.
I used four blocks a rectangle 110 x 220 mm for bocashi; the upper lit sky in yellow, the red sun and the dark horizon.
After soaking the blocks over night in preparation for printing I realised I hadn’t cut the registration marks. Woe is me! But after lining the paper up against the layout grid on the block I discovered that I really can’t measure for shit so that admission was all for the good. Now I have to decide which one is going to be the key block and line the rest up with it. woo.

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So I’ve printed six proof copies (spare ends of the cut paper) and I think I made every mistake in the book. Apart from sorting out the registration I need to:
Widen the gutters around the printing area and clean them up

  • Sort out the sharpness of my tools…
  • paper too wet, or too dry?
  • Ink too watery?
  • Right mount of nori? I started some new tubes of paint and there was lots of gum arabic separated out

Did I like what I achieved? I had a bit of a wobble when they were still damp as the Nickel Yellow Titanate is very pale, but they settled down as they dried. Maybe I should have reprinted the Indigo lower sections like I did the sun etc. The other colours used were Winsor Lemon, Brown Madder and Caput Mortum Violet, I might substitute other colours in for various parts.

On reflection I’m very happy with the Yellow ‘sky’ and the bokashi there. That’s one of the reasons I chose Mokuhanga for this project, as a simple way to get variation with a colour area. The original digital sketches utilised the transparency of the tool to get the layered colour effect.

What next, apart from the obvious?
Some colour sampling to adjust intensity of the composition?
Over printing?