Man In A Black Square

31 May

Some time ago I took some digital photos from my second floor studio window, looking down on the people walking past below. I worked them up into drawings and I’ve been gradually cutting them into blocks for printing. I’m planning to do a series of nine block prints, all square and the same size, with the figure offset within the square. It sort of ties in with my feeling that artists are voyeurs, spying on the world to record what they see. Well, some of us are anyway. Once I’ve done all nine, I’ll exhibit them in a 3×3 square formation so that the black squares make the most impact and also to emphasise the isolation of each individual imprisoned in their own dark square.

I cut the image into a recycled piece of signwriter’s foamboard, I think the brand name in Britain is Floatex. I use it because it’s free and gives a very fine line that I can’t get with lino or wood. I used it extensively to teach block printing to people with drug problems; some have blood-borne viruses and the last thing you want is a cutting tool injury. The foamboard doesn’t have to be cut – it can be incised with a 4″ nail or even a biro.

I printed this today using Daler-Rowney block-printing medium and lamp black oil paint, using a Japanese baren to take the print without a press onto Fabriano Accademica 120gsm paper. I’m going to have to do more experimentation because I only had one good print out of 5. I might try it out with a Zercoll paper or adjust the ratio of paint to medium until I get it right. Ho hum, that’s my fate sealed for the bank holiday. [Holiday? Don’t make me laugh :)]

12 Responses to “Man In A Black Square”

  1. jhv57 June 4, 2012 at 15:39 #

    I really like the away this was developed. Really strong concept.!

  2. mississhippi June 1, 2012 at 12:42 #

    I knew this was from your series of 2nd storey photos as soon as I saw the print on the screen. You can really see clearly that it is a person from above, which is great when you are only using black and cut lines. I really like the way you have composed this.

    I like the inventiveness of using the foamboard and incising it rather than cutting with tools. I’ll have to try that. I enjoy using a baren (don’t have a press at home anyway) and your prints have come up really well. Pity only 1 out of 5 though.

    Can’t wait to see the rest of them as you create them.

    • Rosie Scribblah June 1, 2012 at 19:05 #

      It was the first time I’ve used this particular medium and it’s way better than using standard relief ink, but I need to experiment a bit more otherwise it isn’t going to be economical. The foamboard is a real hassle to cut, it blunts the tools very quickly, but it’s remarkably easy to incise.

      • mississhippi June 2, 2012 at 00:00 #

        I was surprised by how clear the print was as you didn’t use a press. It must be good ink.

      • Rosie Scribblah June 2, 2012 at 09:53 #

        It was elbow grease lol. I knwo a woodcut artist who uses this all the time and takes his prints with a wooden spoon. I’m going to give it a go with wood and lino to see if there’s a better success rate. It seems to need to be applied thicker than conventional litho/relief ink.

  3. Mariann Johansen-Ellis June 1, 2012 at 06:53 #

    love the idea! is the foamboard going to hold up for printing? or is that not your intention?:0) Mariann

    • Rosie Scribblah June 1, 2012 at 08:22 #

      Yes, the foamboard is very tough, it isn’t the one you can buy from artist’s supplies. It’s so tough it’s actually very difficult to cut with ordinary block-cutting tools, but it’s relatively easy to incise. I’ve done editions of 25 and stopped there because I was bored lol. Signwriters use it for large exterior signage so it has to be pretty strong.

  4. Helen Cherry June 1, 2012 at 00:27 #

    I always love that you describe what you are doing and that you work with people with drug problems.. as we say here in England.. more power to your elbow !

    • Rosie Scribblah June 1, 2012 at 08:20 #

      Thanks Helen. I’m a typical geeky printmaker, always banging on about the technical processes lol

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