It was a Wild Wet and Woolly Sunday
Sunday was wild and wet. The first major weather event of the long anticipated la Nina weather system hovering overhead. So when the weather gets like this, there is only one thing to do … yep … you guessed it … gelatin plate monoprinting 🙂
It was way too wet to venture out to forage for fresh botanicals, but luckily I had enough on hand already in the studio.
With no intention, plenty of paper and paints at the ready … I printed!
I encourage students in my workshops to enter a state of play with the gelatin plate monoprinting process … to release the attachment to the outcome, where there is no such thing as a mistake and there is no such thing as right or wrong. And that is exactly what I did on Sunday.
After a little more than 3 hours I had over 30+ prints.
I have a good collection of Gelli plates in a range of different sizes. My favourite size Gelli plate is my 16″ x 20″ (40 x 50cm) plate. With more surface area to work with I can play with the space by adding more botanical materials – more space around them, less space; more contrast of shape and size, less; different plant materials, repetition of the same. And I have more area to play with blends of multiple colours on each layer. Lots of room for experimentation and exploration.
I started my gel plate printing session with no specific intention around ‘what’ to print. I just wanted to print for the sheer joy and love of the process. I was playing with, and enjoying, the paper and paint; the haptic sensation of burnishing the paper with my hands as it captured the painterly impression on the surface of the gel plate.
When reflecting back on the work I can see a very direct connection between the movement and energy of the prints and the wild and woolly conditions outside the studio.
It is these times when I allow myself to play, to let go, to really release the attachment to the outcome, that I discover new sequences with my colours and layering. And its when I can create a lot of work very quickly. I don’t rush the process, but I am so absorbed in the process that I lose all sense of time.
When printing my layers I generally like to take my first impression as the ‘print’, then the second pull being the ‘ghost print’, then build up layers from there. In this print session I was playing with taking 1, 2 and 3 impressions for the first stage of the inked plate before lifting my plant material to reveal the ghost print underneath. And I had fun!
I have discovered some new layering combinations, and new colour combinations.
I generally print light-to-dark. This time I played around with dark-to-light and mid-tones-to-light. I worked with like-colours and contrasting colours. There were no rules while I was playing and printing – and that makes for the best fun! And really, if it isn’t fun, what’s the point?
Below are some of my favourites from the collection. I ended up with 40 prints.
For this collection of prints I used the same 3 different plant types – eucalyptus leaves, some bracken and grasses. Some prints used all 3, other used just one type of plant material. I enjoyed limiting myself to just that collection of mark-making plant materials.
To be honest I would have used more if I could … but it was way too wet and squally outside to collect more plant materials. I didn’t have the patience to wait for the materials to dry – so I set about with my limited selection – its fun to work with the resources at hand and make the most of them. I think I need to more of that.
I was working with maybe 12 different paint colours, mixing and layering with new combinations. And I’m quite chuffed with some of the combinations I’ve found. Each of them calling for more exploration.
Just how much weather was there, really?
Below are two short videos – showing what the weather was like outside the studio. And below that a not-so-glamorous photo, showing what the studio looked like on the inside – messy and blissful botanically reference gelatin plate printing. I have to admit that the photo does look a little tidier than it felt, but i was in a state of pure bliss (once I knew the water wasn’t running in under the studio doors)!
North Maleny had over 300mm (approx 12″) of rain over 3 days, the tanks are full. The grass is bright and growing, and the dam out back has filled halfway (we still need more rain) and I can see the reflections of trees and sky on its surface.
Some places affected by the deluge received 450mm+ overnight. There is still some flooding about. Beaches has experienced severe erosion. Some of the dams caught the water, but alas the main supply dams didn’t. We’re expecting a lot more storms this summer. Here’s hoping the rain falls in the right places, with not quite so much intensity, as we can close out the drought.
I have to admit, I prefer this weather to the fires of last summer!
These trees are my favourites for eucalyptus leaves for gelatin plate printing (but not so great for eco-printing). And some favourites for the local Kookaburras to hang out and laugh about (but maybe not this day!). The wind at this stage wasn’t nearly as strong as it had been. These are very tall eucalyptus trees and perfectly positioned to capture the high winds in their sails.
Now the rain in this video wasn’t so welcome … the gutters are clear but the volume of water off the roof was more than they could handle. And it was overflowing back onto the studio doors. Argh! Thankfully none of it got in!
And below is what the inside of the studio looked like. That central bank of tables is normally set up for students to work from during the workshops, but when there is no one to share the space with, I consume just about every square inch of it and make it all mine! I feel so privileged to have this space. It isn’t lost on my how special it is. And I take advantage of it at every opportunity. This last crazy weather weekend was no exception.
Now to tidy up and get to making something with all my new gel plate prints 🙂
I made me a book with my prints
ADDENDUM 26 December 2020 … I do love a quiet and lazy Boxing Day 🙂 I’ve spent a fair chunk of today making a single-sheet coptic bound book with my gel prints. A most perfect Boxing Day.
I used my favourite print from my wet-and-wild-Sunday print session for the front and back covers, sandwiching a thick piece of card between each piece of trimmed paper. Then, with all the other prints, I cut each sheet in half, folded in half again, then bound them all together with the single-sheet coptic binding technique.
I still have a lot of practice ahead of my to master the coptic binding technique, but I am pretty happy with how this little book has come together.
Now I can flick through my book and enjoy the different colour combinations, textures and layers.
Want to learn to print and create with gel plates yourself?
It is so easy! I am passionate about sharing my skills and love for this process. It is a perfect process for everything from simple creative play to intentional mark-making to printing for fine artwork. There are no rules. There is no such thing as a mistake. I encourage my students to enter a state of play to really learn about and push this process. And my approach is just one of so many different ways you can print with gel plates.
You don’t need to be able to draw or paint to create with gel plates. Of course, you can be equipped with those skills, but don’t be put off if think you aren’t. The gelatin plate is a tool in the process, and the process itself helps lead you to an end results. It is a gentle, giving, therapeutic process suitable for everyone and all ages.
Or click here to have a squizz at some of my other work with this process.
Cost: AUD$97 pp
– 6 Learning Modules
– 2 Bonus Modules
– 2 hours, 30+ videos
– Supported with resources
– ALL videos with CC
– Exclusive access to my own online portal The Studio
Duration: 1 day
Cost: from $190 pp
All materials included
Held in my studio in North Maleny
Spontaneous, creative and fun. The monoprinted results of your images can be exhilarating. Open to all levels of printmaking and art experience.
Or, if you want to jump into process yourself now, you might find some of these articles interesting to get you going: