Release the Attachment to the Outcome
The Jacarandas have finished their flowering. Their leaves are luscious and fresh and ripe for printing. And the poinciana trees! And the flame trees! Spring is like Christmas for gel plate printing.
Workshops finished up mid-November for 2021. I have a squillion and one things listed on my “to do before Christmas” list. I think maybe I got through 3 of them before the allure of my big gel plate grew too strong and I found me some indulgent, necessary, fun, self-care, introvertive creative solo time.
Time to play.
Time to dive into the mindfulness of process.
Time to print with paper and plants and paints and my gelatin plate.
Time to release the attachment to the outcome and start the wind down for the year.
Time I wish for you this Holiday season, and throughout the year ahead.
For me, workshops won’t start up again for another few months. Its this time of year that I consume just about every scratch of clear surface in the studio with papers, inks, lino blocks, plant materials, paints, gel plates, boxes and other stuff. My gel plate sits in position. exposed, ready and waiting for me.
I noticed a printing behaviour pattern in my most recent gel printing sessions … I have a tendency to favour a particular botanical material in my gel plate monoprinting in any given year. This year it was the leaves from my local Jacaranda trees. Delicate, little, round, pointed, plentiful jacaranda leaves.
Two weeks ago I wandered up the road to my favourite foraging spots. With clippings and windfall in hands (yes, handS) and big smiles to my very understanding neighbours … I was ready. I gathered a stash of paper, pulled out my favourite paints and set my phone set to silent. Then I released the attachment to the outcome. And I printed.
While printing I was noticing subtle changes in my printing style – new sequences, new paper/layering orders, new colour combinations.
I have come to notice that focussing for a while with one main plant source I begin to push boundaries and experiment with it. I become familiar with it, looking for different ways to capture its details, shapes, lines, texture.
Have you noticed that in your own gel plate monoprinting? Have you noticed patterns in your approach to the process. Or noticed those delicious moments when you are ‘in flow’ and you happen upon new printing sequences and colour combinations that make your tummy tingle?
I printed up nearly 40-ish A3-ish sized prints over that particular morning. Some prints turned to mud with the layering, while others were bold and beautiful and full of depth. Some worked as a whole, while others had small areas of delicious detail and colour.
I trimmed and cropped many of the prints to use as postcards and mini prints for the recent Collectables exhibition. Some I gave as gifts.
While sorting through them I started to see the relationships between them – they were telling their own stories. And the more I looked at them, the more I could see. Some prints were simple with only 2 or 3 layers. Other with maybe 6 or 7 layers. I was in love with the movement the jacaranda leaves created on the paper.
I have shared some of my favourites here … grouping them (to a degree) in relationship to each other.
Gel plate monoprinting is the complete total and absolute opposite for me to my reduction linocut printmaking.
My linocut work is planned, controlled and time consuming (in the best possible way).
This monoprinting process however is spontaneous and instant.
And the more I release myself from the attachment to the final printed result, the deeper I immerse myself ‘in flow’. The more I step outside my comfort zone. And the more I learn.
I had so much fun creating these prints. This process brings me so much joy. And I now have a new sequence to share with students in my Beyond the Basics workshop – with the intention of sharing that joy.
My gel plate will have to sit with itself until after Christmas now. That ‘to do’ list is beckoning. But it won’t be long until I am printing again, enjoying the quite between Christmas and New Year.
I wish you all the best for this holiday time of year. This time of years means many different things to many different people. Whatever you do to celebrate, or not, may it be a safe, happy and healthy time for You xx
Try it yourself!
If you have never tried gel plate monoprinting before – I urge you to do so. I’m guessing that if you’re reading this far down my blog post that you liked the look of these prints. With play and exploration, you can be creating your own botanical beauties.
I use a 16″x20″ Gelli Arts plate in my practice. We use the 6″x6″ Gelli Arts/Gel Press plates in my in-person workshops.
But did you know that you can make the gel plates yourself at home. I have a DIY gelatin plate recipe that you can work with. The recipe makes a plate about the size of a standard biscuit tray.
There is a huge online community sharing, demonstrating and teaching gel plate monoprinting processes and across a range of different techniques. Let your fingers wander the keyboard in Pinterest, Facebook and Google, disappearing down the rabbit hole for a few hours, to see how versatile and accessible this process it.
You may find these blog posts I written about this process helpful. They’re best for after you have had a bit of a play with the plates to familiarise yourself with the process:
In both the in-person and online workshops, I demonstrate and share how I create my layered prints using botanical materials.
This approach can be adapted and developed in to your own style of gel plate monoprinting. The possibilities are endless. As is the enjoyment of this delicious process.