I can’t believe it’s been over a year since I wrote my last blog!

While I don’t make new years resolutions, I do have a mental ‘To Do’ list for the year which includes writing about my art, about local artists and makers and about what inspires me…..starting now!

I am excited to be running some local art workshops this Spring, experimenting with gel plate printing, so I thought my first blog of 2020 can be a brief look into this fun printmaking technique. All the details about my workshops can be found on my ‘Stockists, Events and Workshops’ page of my website and on my social media pages.

I have always enjoyed creating artwork using a monoprint style of mark making, a technique I’ve used since my days at art college. I like to use a reverse method; covering a printing plate with acrylic paint or printing ink, then placing my paper (which is often textured or collaged) face down onto the inked plate, then drawing onto the back of the surface to create my design.

I love how the results are unpredictable, you never can guarantee what marks will be lifted onto the paper. I used this technique, followed by the addition of paint, to create last years best selling ‘Bee’ designs.

Trying out Gel plate printing seemed a natural progression for my art practice and is a technique I can do easily without a printing press.  These wobbly plates are made using non-perishable gel that’s a modern take on gelatine plates, except these plates are vegan and non toxic. They are easy to clean using baby wipes or a wet cloth and come in a range of sizes.

As with monoprinting, you add a medium to the surface of the plate using a brayer (roller). I use standard acrylic paints and in the future want to experiment with alcohol inks and different types of acrylics (high flow and heavy body).  You can then scrape marks onto the inked gel plate, you can use stencils and stamps or found objects to add texture.

The next step is to press your paper onto the plate, gently moving your hand over the area to push it down onto the ink before carefully lifting the paper back to reveal the results….known as  ‘pulling a print’ .

I’ve enjoyed using leaves from the garden as stencils, creating natural silhouettes. It’s been interesting to also see the printed results you can achieve once you remove these leaves off the inked surface and take another print; the ability to capture the patterns of the veins on paper.

Often there’s enough paint left on the plate to pull a second print or a ‘ghost print’. The effects are a lot less defined, more ‘ghostly’ and translucent than the original print and often these prints are just as exciting.

When using acrylic to create these prints you’ll find the artworks dry quickly, so it’s quite exciting to build up layers of colour and texture using the same piece of paper, all within a short space of time.

I’ve experimented with different weights and styles of paper, which has created lovely delicate prints as the below images show.

The next step is to use these hand printed papers within my artwork. I’ve previously collaged using shop bought patterned papers and now love the idea that all the elements that make up my artwork are created by me!