How I Do What I Do
So….How is it done?
Silk screen printing isn’t common. Indeed, I don’t meet many other people who work in the medium, though secondary school children often do it.
The technique came from 12th & 13th century China & Japan but came to prominence during Andy Warhol’s involvement with the Pop Art movement in the 60s.
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The ‘screen’ is variously sized, I’ve 3, and has a gauze tightly stretched across it. It’s not silk any more, it’s ‘Multifilament polyester 120T.’ I create a ‘block’ by using a paper stencil which I cut to the shape I require with a scalpel. Other artists use a screen block solution but I find this too slow and in any case it is for long ‘print runs’ which I avoid. I use a different stencil for every colour or colour combination. The ink is then ‘forced’ through the screen with a squeegee.
I make 4 images of each composition as the paper is so costly.
Each work takes about 20-25 hours from start to finish, including preparatory drawings and colour studies.
In my case, each of the 4 images I print is subtly different so all the finished works are ‘original’ and customers sometimes select the one they want.
Who Inspires Me?
I like the precision of Samuel Palmer, the colours of Raoul Dufy and the form of Toulouse Lautrec. Eric Ravilious lived in my home village in Essex and I love his work, along with that of many from the Bardfield “group” era.
What Drives Me, What Am I Trying to Achieve?
I have always spent ages looking closely at the world. I still think about what I am doing and……do what I am thinking! I have always looked at spaces and shapes, even in my mind’s eye, at all times.
My experiences of and observations on life leave me seeking calm and peace so I try to create that human emotion in my pictures. I remove ‘clutter’, try to compose something gentle and choose colours that enhance what I am trying to achieve. I hope I succeed, feedback suggests I am so I will keep trying. My work is undeniably ‘representational’ which I believe to be an entirely proper description of many printmaking methods.
Why Do I Work in Silk Screen?
It’s so physical, magical too maybe. I love raising my screen to view the outcome. I never tire of that, ever.
Is It Easy?
No! It’s very slow with lots of patient preparation. The first stage – creating the ‘master’ drawing from which I can make the stencils – is crucial and very often hard going. A key skill is eliminating detail……and indeed choosing which detail to leave out. A picture can only succeed if I get this bit right!
It’s very easy to cut your fingers with the scalpel when stencil cutting though.
Using the squeegee can be quite strenuous as well, the bigger ones are 45cm long.
Is It Costly
Yes! The multifilament polyester is pricey stuff and a sheet of Fabriano or BFK Rives paper costs a lot too.The acrylic inks are between £6 and £14 a tube.
I also need a sink in my studio to wash up continually and of course a hair dryer to dry the screen so the next stencil can go on quickly.