Friday, October 17, 2014

Gelli Printing: Using a Mask and Sketching

The Gelli Plate is a great way to mono print by adding layers of paint, stencils and masks. I like to use acrylic paints to make a colorful background page that I can then sketch over. 
Gelli Printed Paper
Gelli Printed Page with Sketch on Top of Monoprint
I like the way the paint layers show through the colored pencils. The translucency is an interesting element that adds interest and depth to the image.
But, there are times when I want the Gelli printed paper as the background, but not to show thorough the sketch. At these times, I want the sketch to stand out and really pop!

There are a few ways to get this effect.
Gesso is a gritty substance, that applies like paint and acts as a primer. It creates an opaque layer that can then be used as a base for additional layers of paint, crayon, pencil, inks. Gesso adds a texture, like fine sandpaper and even a little height to where it's applied. 
To use it to mask out an image,, I  Gelli-print the entire paper, as I normally would. Then I can sketch the silhouette of my image and fill it in with gesso. After the gesso dries, I can sketch over the gesso with colored pencils or paint. When I use colored pencils, the grit of the gesso sands them down and I go through the pigment quickly. It also adds a texture that I'm not always thrilled with. 
I use simple white acrylic paint to paint the silhouette of my mask, in the same manner that I use the gesso. The white paint does not give me the same sharp and solid primed image, but it does give me some level of opacity without the texture of the gesso.
Both of these methods work if I have already printed onto the page.
But, if I plan ahead, I can avoid covering over the paint altogether by creating a paper mask and then gelli-printing onto the page.
I make masks from scrap paper, copy paper, card stock, plastic lids, stencil film, and Tyvek. The easiest way to obtain Tyvek is to recycle used Priority mail envelopes. The Tyvek lasts longer than paper, is more durable because the Tyvek is a plastic and cuts easier than plastic lids or stencil film.
Clown Trigger Fish
Mask created onto a used Priority Mail Envelope (Tyvek)

For this artwork, I was hired to create a sketch of a trigger fish. I wanted to make the background by gelli printing a brilliant background and then sketching the elegant fish, named Spot. In order to achieve the pop of color for the fish, I decided to make a mask in the shape of Spot. I sketched an outline and then cut out the shape on the Tyvek. I then reversed it when I printed with it, to get the fish facing the direction I wanted.
I made a few pages in different colors and patterns to see which one I liked best.
 I chose the one with blues and purples for the background. I clipped the page to my easel and went to work adding details.
I began adding color, shading the fins and adding touches here and there.
When I finished, I was happy that the fish blended into the background, but wasn't distracted by it. I like the way it came out.

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