Painted ladies II

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After the failure of last week there feels like a lot of time to make up and I do wonder if I am wasting too much time on the image of the Painted Ladies. This will be the third version, and as large I want to, as I feel much of the impact comes from the framing and whitespace at this scale. The single sheet of 1000mm x 700mm Fabriano provides the right balance for the A2 printed area, creating a sense of scale, but also a sense of isolation and focus, with the eye drawn to the centre of the work.

Luckily, I do have the black slabs from last week’s failure, and even more fortuitously I was spot on with the (adjusted on the fly) sizing, such that when I put the mid-tone down it perfectly aligns with the slab.  This is undoubtedly the most successful this technique has been, though inexplicably the white doesn’t lay down as accurately, even though the registration on the flip sheet seemed perfect. In spite of this, I am incredibly satisfied with the results. Everything I liked about the original mini-print is retained in the final print. Though the mid-tone is perhaps too dark the contrast between the three inks is perfect – earie and intriguing, with the tones fighting their way up from the black, simultaneously dark and light, in a total juxtaposition to how they would appear if printed traditionally.

Even though I know every detail of the image by now, I still love finding the light left on in one of the top right hand windows, each time I have printed this image I have read it as a mistake on the screen, negative or print, and it always delights me to realise that it is meant to be there. And not just meant to be there, but there as perfect narrative stroke, perhaps a perfect distillation of everything I am looking for in my work at the moment.

I remember noticing the single lone lamp in the upstairs window of the brownstone as I was shooting, but barely hoped that the pinhole lens would capture the detail, as random and fickle as it so often is, much less that it would transfer to the print so powerfully.

Now in many ways it represents everything excites me about these images, the mystery and isolation, the intrigue and loneliness of this single illumination, perhaps providing comfort for that last individual, the last soul on The Quiet Earth.

Today we were also lucky enough to have lino printer Paul Catherall visit and talk to us about his practice. His work is so detailed, purposful and colourful, but I do find myself engaging with it more as a graphic designer/illustrator, though I am utterly staggered by the complexity and precision of his technical process. In addition to the creative exploration of his practice, Paul’s talk also provides a lot of insight into the business side of printmaking/illustration, from how to get the exposure you need (and people at your private view!) to how to price and sell commissions and editions.

Perhaps most enlightening for me though is the realisation that my work is not in any way about architecture or sense of place in the way that Paul’s is in total celebration of both these things. I realise that so often where my subject is unsuccessful, is where I have placed significance in either the aesthetic for or identity of a building or landscape. I don’t want to create recognisable celebrations of places (as with Oldbury), rather I want these buildings and landscapes to take on their own narrative and identity within my own imagined environment. They must be anonymised in this world to take on their identity in mine.

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