Saturday, February 18, 2012

January and February at Tamarind- Collaborations 1 and 2

"Flying of the Bulls" by Jamie Kovach
I think I mentioned in my last post about the collaborative nature of this new semester at Tamarind. Our first three collaborations rotate on a two week basis, and our last three on a three week basis, which means in this limited time we meet with our artist, allow them time to create an image, and pull trial proofs for paper, colors, and layers until the artist is happy with the result. We limit the trial proofs to four just to stay on schedule, and because sometimes too many options just becomes confusing. Once an artist has a trial proof they like they sign is as the ATP or Approval to Print. The edition (the size is up to the artist, again, with a limit of 15 to stay on schedule) is then pulled and matched to this ATP.

So my first collaboration was with a graduate student at UNM named Jamie Kovach. Jamie mostly worked in photography and recently in painting in the style of paint-by-numbers, and while she had done some printmaking in the past, she hadn't done a lithograph. Because of this I thought it important to get her involved in the process more than just shooting a photo plate, so we transferred the image to ball grained plates, and split it up into three runs. One for the blue of the sky, one for the bulls, and then the key.

Elizabeth Sobel's print
Overall, I think for the first collaboration it went very well. Jamie was very easy-going and fun to work with, and I loved the sense of humor she had in her work. To the left is the finished print "The Flying of the Bulls." You know, like the running of the bulls. But more extreme. And with zeppelins.

To make life a little easier my classmate Richard and I have been working together, so I get to see and be a part of the collaborations he's working on as well. I won't go so much into detail, but I did want to post a picture of his artist's, Elizabeth Sobel, first print.  Elizabeth did a two run print, a tone plate in the background, with stop outs for the figures in front, and the key in black.

In between projects we still have a few demos from Rodney. Our first was on the huge Steinmesse & Stollberg (S&S) flatbed press. Rodney had us pulling flats one day, and mono-prints the next day. The whole experience was pretty cool. That press is gigantic, and a little intimidating, but very impressive. We've yet to fire it up and run it automatically, but Rodney tells us it's loud and awesome.
Richard inking up the plexiglass on the S&S
I missed the second day mono printing on the S&S, but luckily we had another day for mono printing on the regular Takach presses. The idea was the same- ink up a plexiglass and run it through the press.

Marvin added some Fresca, and Rodney pulled the print- clearly his finest work to date.
Back to collaborations! My second two week collaboration was with Marcos Polaco. Before we even began Marcos and I had talked about doing a maniere noir style print for the key, and I suggested Michael Barnes's method because it was easier to reduce and it was something new for Marcos to try since he had done quite a bit of litho in the past. We originally pulled three trial proofs with a blend for the sky and a blend in the supporting plate in the background, with the key on the stone. 

The first three trial proofs
After seeing the colors in the proofs Marcos decided the green was too vibrant, and didn't marry well with the areas in front where the paper showed through. A fourth trial proof was pulled with just the sky and the key, but upon seeing it and talking a little more we decided not to abandon the second plate all together and instead just create a color a bit darker than the paper to give it some definition, but not be so stark a difference that it took away focus from the key plate. This last trial proof then became the ATP. 
"Sleeping Giant" by Marcos Polaco
Marcos put a lot of time into the key, and the results were beautiful.

The image on the stone before etching and processing
Detail of some of the bushes in the foreground
Sponging away the gum to reveal the crackle effect

Friday, February 3, 2012

Semester 2 (Electric Boogaloo)

Sorry. I can't help but make a Breaking II Electric Boogaloo reference whenever possible.

A lot has happened since my last post. The year ended with a few more big projects, including an introduction to photo plates, converting those plates to waterless, and a big three color reductive stone. 

Before arriving at Tamarind I had never seen or used photo plates. We did a four color separation on the computer and printed out films for cyan, magenta, yellow and black, exposed those mylars to the photo plates and printed each plate individually. The real challenge came in perfectly registering each mylar, and printing a correct ink film- too lean and the image looks spotty; too heavy and the image feels weighed down.

Overall though, they turned out beautifully, and I felt comfortable enough using them that over the winter break I took a trip up to Fargo and did a workshop at MSUM for a few students who were still around.

However, what I really loved was the three stone reductive method. I've come to realize reductive work is one of my strengths, and I was eager to try Barnes's method again at a larger scale (nearly full sheet). For this process three primary color runs were printed and overlapped to create a variety of colors, including browns and black.


Yellow first, then red, then blue. I prepared a stone, reduced all the areas I wanted to keep white, and all the areas that didn't have yellow in them (purple, pure blue and pure red for example). I pulled the whole edition in yellow, then altered the stone, removing all the areas I wanted to keep yellow or that didn't have red in them (like green), and added areas that had red but not yellow and printed red over the yellow. The same was done with the blue. It may sound a little complicated, but with some planning on what needs to stay and what needs to go it was fairly straightforward, and the result was beautiful.

So this was the last project of the semester. Spring semester has been much different than the first. First semester focused on demos and techniques, and the second involves working with and printing collaboratively with graduate (and a few undergraduate) student artists from across the street at the University of New Mexico.

In December Rodney interviewed interested students, and seven were chosen to work with the seven of us printers. So for two to three weeks we're paired up with an artist and print an edition with them, up to four runs. Since this entry is getting a little long I think I'll save my next post for my first and second collaborations. Til then!