To Try and Fail

Five weeks ago, I started my postgraduate studies in Art. To be exact, I am studying for my Masters of Art in Visual Art at the Queensland College of Art, Griffith University. It has been quite the learning curve for my whole family. A pulling together of support and learning to communicate our frustrations at one another. It is getting used to a new routine and missing moments that as a mother I never thought I would miss, then dealing with the emotional turmoil that comes from that. It has been quite the learning curve for me. Letting go of my expectations that a postgraduate student might get access to equipment at their university or a shared studio or even actually MAKE some art. I have learned not to expect answers to my email enquiries to lecturers, conveners or even the head of postgraduate studies and to be constantly frustrated at a system in which I am invisible. I am resigned to buying all my own equipment and materials despite paying over $20,000 in student charges over the course of two years. For what, I am not quite sure yet.

Please do not misunderstand me. I am utterly humbled and grateful to be able to continue my postgraduate studies in Art. I wanted this very badly. I worked HARD to get to be in this privileged position. It’s just that sometimes the realities hit hard and you have to adjust your thinking. Luckily, I have had quite a lot of experience in doing just that. I have been experimenting in the studio with different printmaking techniques brought on by my inability to get access to my University’s printmaking studios and the equipment I need to complete conventional printmaking. I am still trying to get access but one of my life mottos is, “Always have a contingency plan”, so I have been working on that contingency.

The following photos are all rough experiments. They are a thought process at work looking at one technique, then another, then trying something new and seeing what that does. One of the things I REALLY miss while studying is that freedom to just…play. To be able to test the boundaries of the materials I am using and fail but to learn something in the failing. To luxuriate with time in the studio working over this design, or that one and to pick and choose. I miss the rush of getting ready for exhibits and attending the local art groups where we would sit and chat and laugh while making things. Oh dear lord…why is this turning into the post vying for the top spot of Ms Whiny of 2017??? Here…let me just stop talking and show you what I have been doing….

For some reason, I always revert back to drawing plants. It just seems to free up my mind. Then I started thinking about printmaking. Printing is something you can do with ANYTHING. That is one of the reasons I love it so much. So….I began with anything. The Rise paper is an experiment with Wet on wet printing using acetate and acrylics. I painted the watered down acrylic onto the acetate sheet before pressing it onto the wet paper. I say wet…I mean soaked. I did some spot wetting as I went along because watercolour paper is very absorbent. The last picture is my desk. Yes, it is cluttered. Stop judging me.

So from here I started looking up different printmaking techniques. Ones I could do at home with very little equipment using only the things I had at hand. And I came up with collograph which is a technique that can be done with pieces of cardboard. I happened to have some on hand, so off I went cutting out the printing plate and sticking it altogether until I had this…

And this is where things started to go horribly wrong…

You can see here the progression of the print I managed to get. Each one is done on watercolour paper with water based printing ink. The first is on dry paper with the first inking. the second is on wet paper. The second last print I pulled was almost there…so close. I started by using a barren to lift the ink, but ended up using my tried and true method of burnishing with a silver spoon. The Rise print would have been ok…except that my registering sucked. I should have paid more attention to that but by that stage I was getting distracted and frustrated. Also the printing plate was beginning to fall apart by then. With the fourth pull, I managed to rip some of the relief bits off my plate and so called it quits then and there.

It’s ok…I think I will go back to it tomorrow and work out how I can incorporate that mistake into the actual piece. Not every piece is a master piece. Sometimes we try and fail… and sometimes, we make birds…


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