Tag Archives: michael hitchens

Textile Pattern Print Jan 2016

I used this same pattern for the screen-printed deck chair I contributed MMU’s school of art RHS flower show stand in the summer.

I wanted to screen-print the pattern on to a length of fabric so I could use the material for some other projects I have in mind. Usually I am a paper printer foremost, so it was new experience setting up the material (a heavy cotton/satin) on to the table and registering a repeat pattern for 10-metre length print.

This time I chose a more subtle colour scheme (blue theme), using the pigment binder to thin down the colour to a very pale version of the original dark blue.

Below: pictures of setting up, progress and printing in action.

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Grosvenor Museum Chester 11th Open Art Exhibition

Just a quick one, I have been successful in getting two screen-prints ‘Firemountain’ and a new piece ‘Kilimanjaro’ in to an open art exhibition at the Grosvenor Museum Chester. The show is running until the 17th of June and having visited it already, I can recommend that if you are in Chester it would defiantly be worth popping in to see. There is an interesting mixture of mediums and styles on show. For more info visit the info page here.

Below: Me having a a nosy at my ‘firemountain’ print.

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Green Door print studios International Print Exchange 2014

For the second year running, I have entered a mini print edition into the International Print Exchange. The exchange is held annually at the Green Door print studios Derby. Originally I had intended to do one of my multi-layer screen-prints, but due to time constraints I opted to make a small white-line style woodcut.

White-line style woodcuts are a slightly different way of producing a woodcut in comparison to traditional methods. Popularised by the Provincetown printmakers, white-line style is a simpler way of producing coloured woodcuts without the need to produce a separate ‘block’ for each individual colour. Instead, the woodcut is hand painted with colour before printing using the groove that has been cut away as a barrier between different plains on the block, once printed the cut away areas do not print leaving the distinct white-lines, which give this woodcut process its name.

I have done a few white line style woodcut prints in the past. Most of these prints have been an abstract style. I have an ongoing side project, which I call ‘my eyes think differently’. My approach to these pieces is very different to that of my screen prints. My screen-prints are all very deliberate and I am very calculated in what I do when it comes to designing them and printing them. The ‘my eyes think differently’ work is all very spontaneous. The designs are created almost impulsively to create an abstract construction of random shapes and marks.

For the exchange I used a little piece of plywood to do my print, and very quickly drew a design and refined it to my final drawing. Using very fine v shaped groove gouges I carved a very clean and shallow groove along my drawn lines. Once I have carved the wood cut I then apply shellac which is a type of varnish to seal the wood. I can then start to print the woodcut once the shellac is dry.

Like the providence town printers I do not use a normal printing ink, I in fact use watercolour paint. Once I settled on a selection of colours, I will begin to print the woodcut by printing each little piece of the image at a time. By applying the watercolour and quickly folding a hinged piece of paper over the ink and burnishing (rubbing) the back of the paper to transfer the colour to the paper I can build my image and colours up slowly. Getting the consistency of the watercolour right is important, if it is too watery and the ink the colour will bleed, to thick and it will dry out to quickly. Speed is the essence when doing a print like this because the watercolour will dry very quickly on the woodcut.

Unlike a normal woodcut the printing part is usually always done in one go, but a white line style cut is done over a period. For my small image, it was taking about 30mins of inking and burnishing to complete one image. The photos show the progression of adding each colour and building the image up to completion.

The IPE 2014 exchange is running from the 14th October to the 10th November @ the green door printmaking studio, the bank mill studios Derby UK. More info can be found here at the official page

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‘wheelfield’ screenprint @Green Pea Press Print Exchange June 2014

So recently, I have contributed an edition of work to the green pea press print exchange (Alabama US). I am finding the exchanges that I have entered a great way to try out some new ideas and things that have been in the back of my mind for a while. The theme for the exchange was green, and quite quickly I fitted this to an idea.

‘wheelfield’ is a screen-print which similar my tulip series. It is based on aerial images of fields that are centrally irrigated. These when flying above these fields (you may notice them when you are in a plane flying over a hot country) you will notice how round and geometric they seem to be, and how much greener they tend to be from the surrounding area.

My design is particularly geometric and deliberately has an optical effect that draws your attention and messes with your perception a little. In a way it is a tribute to some of the first screen-prints I ever made, when I had an interest in op art.

Designing this image, I had produced four different designs for the final layer of the print (the black circles) I wanted to see which design looked best in the proofs that I made. I also played around with the colours whist proofing, using colours, which reflected the theme. I printed a few different variations of colour, trying to work on getting the greens to fade in to a more yellowish/green colour. Once I was happy with the colours I had mixed, I printed my edition on fabriano tiepolo paper (size 17.5cm*17.5cm).

The edition was eight prints for the main design for the exchange, but I also printed three smaller editions of four with the excess prints I had made using the other designs, which I did not use for the main print.

 

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Firemountain screen-print feb/march 2014.

Background: A few years ago, I travelled to Namibia for a few weeks for one of those holidays that you will never forget. Namibia is full of amazing scenery landscapes and people. During our travels (we toured around the whole country), we drove in to the middle of nowhere to do some ‘wild’ camping at the base of the famous Brandberg Mountain. If you look of google maps at the aerial view of the Brandberg, you will understand why it is so interesting. It sticks out of the flat desert plains like a barnacle sticks of the back of a mussel shell.

It really is an impressive mountain especially when we were driving up to it, and even more so in the evening when the sunset and the light glowed and reflected of the red sandy coloured rocks giving the mountain an exaggerated orangey red colour and the sky tinges of oranges reds and pinks. The sky is something else, which is extremely beautiful in Namibia in the evenings, with there being virtually no light pollution; the clear night sky becomes a Christmas tree of twinkling stars.

Since this holiday, I have only done one piece of work based on the pictures of this trip (above and below – quiver tree 2012). The pictures I had of the Brandberg and landscape was perfect for what I wanted to achieve. Landscape is always been something that has interested me, but when it has come to screen-printing it has been something I have neglected, for some reason I have always chosen to do cityscapes rather than landscape. In the past when I did a lot, more painting it was the other way round, I preferred to paint the landscape.

Getting down to business for this print was easy, the design process was painless and I did not have too many problems coming up with my design and layers. I knew that this image would have a massive emphasis on the sky with most of the image using the gradient effect of that I have come to use to depict the sky. I wanted the colours to reflect the clear nights that we encountered, but also to help blend it in to the glowing red of the mountains. The mountains were composed of several layers built up on top of each other, the selection of colour, the mixing of colour was particularly important, and I wanted to exaggerate the reds and oranges to give a bold and vibrant feature at the bottom of the print. The stars I added were an afterthought, but were important as it reinforced the memories that I have of this particular place.

This print has taken over the beginning part of my year. Other projects that I have on the go have been put on hold whilst I have completed it. I haven’t printed too many images or variations neither, just a couple of small editions.

 

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