Ah, so here we are, with the final piece of my screen printing journey. I’ve already told you how it began (Projects 1 and 2), and how it ended (Project 4), but as I mentioned in my last entry, Project 3 was my favorite – so I’m glad I saved the best for last. It took me a while to get this to you, since the project itself has been done for months, but I had to wait on my teacher to finally get my favorite piece back to me.
You can see, from the image above, that the subject of this particular project was a mix of self-portrait, ad, and good-humored fun. The assignment was to “do an Andy Warhol.” You’ll likely recognize the image below:
…and that’s an Andy Warhol screen print. This works by first sketching an outline of the image that’s going to be printed, painting the background by hand, and then screen printing the black outline/detail on top of the dried painting. So, in the above example, Warhol painted the blue background, the blonde hair, the eyeshadow, the skin, and the red lips onto a canvas (or whatever he used), and then the shadows and other details were from a screen that he used to print black over the coloring. That was our assignment, and while I’m not a fan of Warhol’s work, I did embrace the abstract element and had a heck of a lot of fun with my backgrounds.
And I mean a HECK of a lot of fun :).
Our teacher talked about how Warhol’s work was intended to be quick and simple – he didn’t spend hours perfectly lining his screens up with the pre-painted background, which is why on some of the works it looks like he colored outside the lines. In reality, he lined outside the colors ;). I took that idea of imperfection to heart and just went with it!
We didn’t have to do a self-portrait, but the teacher really urged us to at least choose a subject that we knew very well – like a family member or pet. This was going to be a big print, too, on 19×24 paper, so it wasn’t something to just frame and set on a desk, either. It was intended to be something bold. I came up with the idea to create a fun little self-promo, since any other self-portraits would’ve felt too serious for such an endeavor. We had to create 7 different prints, so I felt just a straight picture of myself (or something with a singular emotion, like an angry look) would be too repetitive when I tried to come up with interesting background variations. In hindsight, I probably wouldn’t have had that problem, but I’m glad I chose to do it this way… it’s a fun shot, and it turned out as a GREAT print. It took a small bit of tinkering, but I love how the detailed design in my sweater came through, and the Photoshop work to put my website logo in my hands worked splendidly, too. I DID lose my right ear to overexposure, but I figured I could make up for that with my painting.
And oh, the painting :).
Since I was taking this as a fun experimentation in abstract fluidity, I just used the paints and brushes he offered us in the classroom. The paints were simple poster-paint colors, and some of the brushes had seen better days, but I created a palette of colors and went to town. I had just seen Les Miserables, and since my hair was short and my beard was long (creating a visual allusion to Hugh Jackman from the beginning of the movie), I created my first background with a little French flair…
This was actually the only premeditated background painting, but even then, it was only a rough idea I’d had when I was tracing my outlines onto the paper. I like how the “flag” turned out, with the rough edges and the dirty black spreading up from the bottom. I never quite loved the many 24601’s all over, but it does complete the idea, and once I’d started the big one, I had to just go with it. Leaving my sweater blank really helps pop me out from the background, too… and I do quite like this one :).
I mentioned that this project was my favorite, and the painting is why. I didn’t realize just how much fun I was going to have with this assignment, but as I started splotching globs of paint onto the huge paper – I simultaneously started having an absolute blast :). I hadn’t painted since I was a little kid, and the fact that it was all rather abstract really strengthened that nostalgic association, but while my class-partner started feeling unsure and hesitant about the endeavor, my creative spark only took hold even stronger. I painted 5 backgrounds on that first day – and I was the very last one to leave the classroom, having satisfied the heck out of myself with this assignment.
These images are large, so I’ve saved the rest for below…
I actually don’t recall the creation order of these next 3 prints, so don’t look for any special type of progression. I started this one with the yellow background, but then came up with the idea for the green “flames,” since green is my favorite color. For each new background, I tried to use my basic color palette in new ways, and really did my best to keep the style fresh and varied. I actually forgot to paint my ear on this one, but I did leave space for it.. so it has kind of this strange end-result. At first I was really perplexed as to why I painted my hands to small, compared to what was printed.. since I used the same picture to trace that I used to create my screen, but now I remember. I traced the outline of the print with pencil, but when I painted solid green over the whole thing, I had to guess where my hands would be. It’s definitely a whoopsie, but a confusing one if you don’t know how it happened. A confoospie? Let’s just pretend it’s artistic ;).
For as abstract as it is, I really quite like this one. It’s simple, but my fading off in the opposite direction of the world around me certainly says something – and yes, THIS I actually intended to have some meaning ;). Beyond that, though, I just really like the visual and how these differing smears look together.
Ah, yes.. the scary one. I actually wish I hadn’t used the red for the eyes, because while it was an interesting, spur-of-the-moment idea, it’s the singular element that makes this picture look creepy. I accidentally poured too much red onto my palette, which is why I had to find so much use for it, but I think this one could’ve looked nice with all of these warm colors.. if not for those darn eyes ;). I still had a bit of black paint left from my 24601-ing, so I thought it might look kinda cool to outline myself. It’s funny that this is the creepy one, too, because, while it’s hard to see, I actually used a dry brush to scratch out “♥’s U,” with an arrow pointing from that to me. With those evil red eyes, though, my love takes on a whole new connotation.
This was my last background of the day, and I still had a lot of paint left. I quickly realized that the only way not to waste it, was to use it… ALL of it :). I took from the edges of each paint on my palette, and came up with a good brown for my skin, and it’s dark, but it turned out well for being mixed on the fly. I do love fall, so then I just went to town… drowning my paper in flecks of every color that remained. There was so much paint on there that when it dried, the paper was completely warped under the weight. That’s why the printed part looks like something went wrong with it. When it came time to print, I did a single pass of black paint, but the paper had so many hills and valleys that about half of it wasn’t even printed on. So, I went through a second time (maybe even a third), and really pushed that screen down to make complete contact. The resulting print was REALLY thick, as you can see, but I actually like how it turned out; it looks like it came from a rubber stamp, especially in person.
So, that concludes the backgrounds that were done in-class. I took the remaining two home with me and rustled up an old kid’s watercolor set we still had. It wasn’t as haphazard and recklessly fun as the poster paints were, but the more refined touch was fun in a different way :). So, on a very sunny afternoon in my backyard, I painted my final two backgrounds…
This was actually the last one I painted, but I’m saving my favorite for the end. After looking at the print above, this one literally pales in comparison, but I still think it’s nice. I actually took a long time with this one… constantly adjusting the water level and fanning out the pigment over and over until I had it all in a place I was satisfied with.
My former class-partner, Annie, and I shared a laugh at this being my favorite one – in a project which embodied abstract madness, my favorite is the cleanest and most normal looking. Regardless, though, this is definitely my pick of the lot – enough so that I would actually hang it on my wall someday. It only uses two colors, green and brown, which means that the variation in my skin tone was done purely by adjusting my paint-to-water ratio. So, it’s my favorite not only because of how it looks, but because I think I pulled off some good work with it. Plus, I’m a big fan of green and brown ;).
So, there you have it.. the missing piece of my screen printing endeavor. This class was great for two big reasons: first, it was a great, rewarding experience in something I’d always been curious about, and second, it awakened my creative interests – especially when it comes to painting :).
Now, which print is YOUR favorite?