Tag Archives: monoprint collage

Interference is real

Please note: This blog post has nothing to do with the U.S. 2016 presidential election nor the 2018 Saints – Rams NFL division championship. It has to do with interference of light waves, and how this is seen in art and nature. Have I lost you yet? Do read on…

@Elizabeth Busey. Aqua Pura. Monoprint collage, 18 x 18in.

Reflectivity is a 2D artist’s attempt at dimension

In many of my monoprints, I include some tiny bits of gold leaf. In Aqua Pura, I didn’t feel like it needed gold’s warm tones, but it did need something reflective. Why did I think this? I was not an overly feminine child and own very little bling as an adult. My only thought is that some reflectivity of light on a 2D work makes it feel less flat. Perhaps there is a 3D artist hiding inside. I’m hoping to let her out later this summer at another Penland workshop… (more about that later.)

Painting Guerra Paint & Pigment Co.’s Interference Blue is the last step.

Interference pigment is magical

I’ve had some interference pigment for a few years. I had intended to make my own encaustic printmaking sticks, and that hasn’t happened — yet. Usually this pigment is added to a binder or to another paint. I used mine straight out of the container, binding it to the paper with gold leaf sizing. I just let the sizing dry for an hour as usual, and then gently painted on the pigment over the sizing areas.

Artists Network explains: “These pigments are not particles but flakes of mica, usually coated with a microscopically thin layer of titanium dioxide pigment.” It is incredibly fine, so I am careful to put it on gently, and brush it off the work out of doors. I painted mine over white paper (with white sizing) so the result is that at one angle it looks like a soft white, and at another angle it is a brilliant cobalt blue.

You can see the interference pigment at work in the dark blue section of the collage.

Interference in nature

Interference is one of the ways color is created in nature. (See this fascinating article to read about all three ways and get a more in depth explanation of interference.) You see this phenomenon in oil slicks on water and colored light on bubbles. The changing of color is what makes it interference — either the light waves are reinforced (the color is very strong) or destroyed (you see white in my work.)

A related phenomenon is iridescence, which means that many colors are shown. I may need to work this into my repertoire as well.

You can see gold leaf and interference pigments at my studio as part of Bloomington Open Studios Tour. Saturday, June 8th (10-6) and Sunday, June 9th (10-4).

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Cyanotypes make their collage debut

I have been creating a vocabulary for my monoprint collages. I use patterned monoprints and vintage maps (some of which I have printed on.) Lately though, I have wanted to use some of my own photographic imagery, and this posed a challenge.

To achieve an integrated look, I choose very thin papers for my collages. Rives BFK, for example, is too thick and has a visible white edge when glued onto a collage. Likewise, photo paper has a similar problem. A solution serendipitously came to me last fall in the form of a cyanotype workshop. Now I would have a way to print imagery on my thin Masa paper. Serendipitousmy latest collage, allows cyanotypes to make their debut.

©Elizabeth Busey. Serendipitous. Monoprint collage, 12 x 12in.

What is a cyanotype?

Cyanotypes are an old alternative method of printing photographs. The process was discovered by Sir John Herschel in 1842. Briefly, paper is sensitized by a combination of ferric ammonium citrate and potassium ferricyanide. The paper is allowed to dry and kept in darkness. Prints can be made with negatives or actual objects by placing either on top of the paper and exposing it to the sun.

In future blog posts, my learning process with cyanotypes will be explored. For now, you can see two cyanotypes used in Serendipitous — look for the bright Prussian blue papers. What do you see?

Serendipitous will make its own debut at the Indiana Artists juried exhibition at Newfields (formerly the Indianapolis Museum of Art) in April.

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Can different bodies of artwork get along?

Breath Intertwined
©Elizabeth Busey. Breath Intertwined. Reduction linocut, 25 x 17in, edition of 24.

Bodies of artwork are like siblings. They come from the same source, and you hope they play well together. There are no guarantees.

Some of my linocuts and monoprint collages are getting ready to be featured together at the St. Meinrad Archabbey in Ferdinand, IN. I chose linocuts that explore similar themes to the newer monoprint collages. Both Breath Intertwined (above) and Multiplicative (below) explore the concept of leaf cellular packing, but from different starting points. 

What follows is my artist statement for the exhibit — my explanation of my artistic progeny. I hope they behave themselves.

©Elizabeth Busey. Multiplicative, Monoprint collage, 12 x 12 in.

Making a statement 

What if what you perceive is related to more than just your immediate experience? Does an image or natural formation remind you of something other than its current form? I often sense that there is a connection across the macrocosm, where patterns and forms tell a story of the underlying laws of our existence.  

A century ago, Scottish scientist D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson mused that “everything is what it is because it got that way.” In contrast to the popular Darwinian evolutionary theories of the day, Wentworth thought that living and non-living things (such as in astronomy and geology) were shaped by the requirements of physical forces. Accidents in formation are also part of the process, leading to wide variations within tremendous similarities. In my work, I strive to explore these similarities and consider how the human experience might mirror that of nature itself. 

I gather my inspiration with the assistance of science and technology. My personal photographic catalogue is filled with images taken from commercial airplanes, often partly eclipsed by an airplane wing. I delight in the myriad of satellite images available to me, as well as those unveiled by highly sensitive microscopes. Artists from only decades ago would have been amazed at this source material.  

The materials and techniques I choose are surprisingly simple in stark contrast to my methods for gathering inspiration. My imagery is created with linseed oil-based inks on cotton rag paper with the assistance of a hand-cranked etching press built with recycled steel. My reduction linocuts are created by a conversation between carving away layers of one linoleum block and printing the resulting pattern in overlapping inked layers, until the block is mostly carved away, or reduced.  

My latest work embraces monoprinting, which is a spontaneous and surprising way to create images. Made by printing an inked sheet of smooth polycarbonate, no two monoprints are exactly the same. I develop unique textures on paper (which are themselves monoprints) that are then cut apart and combined with old maps to create monoprint collages. Taking my cues from the paper cut-outs of Henri Matisse as well as the playful exuberance of children’s book artist Eric Carle, the collages seek to create something that feels resonant and familiar in an abstract form. The addition of gold leaf in some collages hints at the reverence I feel toward my subject matter.  

©Elizabeth Busey. Benediction for an Unlikely Journey. Monoprint collage, 18 x 24 in.

One of my latest monoprints is entitled Benediction for an Unlikely Journey. In the global liturgy of which we are all a part, here is the benediction I would give…  

As human beings, we are surrounded by wonder.
Pay attention, be amazed and feel connected.
Then go and work to preserve this wonder.

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Making art that does not fit on a cell phone

What do you do when what you create does not look its best on a cell phone? I have been struggling with this question ever since I wanted to post my first monoprint collage. Take a look at my latest monoprint collage, Benediction for an Unlikely Journey and I will explain.

©Elizabeth Busey. Benediction for an Unlikely Journey, monoprint collage, 18 x 24in.

I am drawn to small details and want to see how the compilation of details creates an energetic, continually interesting whole. I cut details out of monoprints I have created and maps on which I sometimes print colors. When people take a look at my work in person, they first come close to see all of the details, and then back up to see the work as a whole. I find these dual ways of enjoying artwork means my imagery that doesn’t get boring.

Sadly, many of the people who see my work will never see it in person. It is largest when the image is clicked on through my website. I also post it on Instagram and Facebook. Imagine how tiny the image becomes when viewed in the Facebook platform on a small cell phone. The details are completely lost. Does this make a difference?

Getting up close and personal

Detail of Benediction for an Unlikely Journey.

To counter the problem of the tiny screen, I have started including details in my social media posts and even on the webpage of the work. I’m hoping that between the two images, viewers can get a clearer idea of the work despite the problems of scale. It takes some work on their part, however…

Making the art feel at home

Benediction for an Unlikely Journey in my living room.

In my quest for image clarity, I created an in situ photograph of the work. I popped the collage into the frame matted, but without the glass to avoid reflections. Now people can see the scale of the work and how the details read from a few feet away.

Will all of these images help with the problem of the tiny screen? It will probably be some time before I know if it is a reasonable substitute to visiting the work on my living room wall.

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