Expressing expressions, on animals or people, in any form of printmaking can be challenging. Unlike painting, you cannot keep going over it until the desired expressive features emerge. It is exciting, when it works. Eager to try something different to enter into the current annual Clarice Beckett Art Award, I decided on a monotype, a method of printing I have tried only a couple of times previously, with mixed results. Monotypes most often result in a more ‘painterly’ method of print, a softer effect.
There are various techniques employed to produce monotypes. I chose to place my black and white sketch under a sheet of perspex, as a guide, and paint the image with the printing ink, and then lift off the image by pressing damp paper over the painted ‘block’. Nerves got the better of me – being rather anal at everything I do – and the actual painting took quite some time. Thus, it was quite dry in places by the time I pulled the print. Much of the painstaking detail was lost. However, I liked the effect.
I am working on an idea for an artist’s book and have been collecting pictures of magpies for reference for future, small prints. I never seem to be quick enough with the camera when ‘the locals’ visit. Among the collection was a close-up of a maggie, looking quite bemused. Could I translate that expression by cutting a few marks into a matt board ‘plate’? Considering the primitive (in my case) technique, I think I captured his expression well enough to make him interesting, and a focus for the foreground of the more indistinct magpies congregating at the Public Bath. Others who have viewed the print have been heard chuckling. A bit of fun, and a successful outcome!