Monotypes and Marbling, Part One

When I was first getting into printmaking in Burlington, the head of the studio, upon noticing the shoddy, cheap paper I was using, kindly rummaged around the studio and dug up some leftover scraps of good paper for me. Thanks to him, I was introduced to BFK Rives and have become completely corrupted, insisting on that paper for my work.

Anyway, some of these sheets, being scraps, came in an odd assortment of sizes, so I set them aside, figuring they'd be good for experiments and other explorations. Turns out of these pieces came in handy when I decided to play around with marbling.

I started by doing a preliminary marble dip. Being a highly absorbent paper (Rives is known for this, which makes it so wonderful for printing), it took the color really well.

This measures around 4" x 12"

The following night, I dipped the paper a second time to see how well it would take two coats of marbling. 

Since the ink follows the flow patterns of the water on which it rests, marbled paper for me naturally connotes aquatic scenes. I decided to play with this by adding a monotype, partly to see how it would turn out, but also to suggest the increasing depth of the water.

In retrospect I would have painted the monotype in a less linear fashions and added some swirls to emulate the marbling, but I'll remember it for the future. I could have stopped here, but I have a compulsion for details, and wanted to add something else. After mulling it over, I decided that the marbled paper suggested for me a primordial emergence, that the fading of the saturated monotype suggested the lightening of the depths. 

I thought initially about drawing some trilobites or other prehistoric creatures, but ultimately I settled on diatom variations. They're ancient lifeforms, but they're still around, so they're simultaneously contemporary and primordial. Their very forms, moreover, incorporate magical geometric shapes, which is uncanny. From a personal standpoint, I've been doodling diatom-like designs for years, usually when I'm bored (some would say it's akin to zentangle, but to me it's just doodling).

I used metallic silver and gold pens to make them visible. As they rise to the surface, the gold becomes more dominant, allowing them to melt into the marbling itself.

In my opinion this work is not a complete success because the diatoms are too big in proportion to the marbling. The pens I used were also too thick for this scale, blurring a lot of the details. The scale of the work itself needs to be a lot larger, allowing more space for the diatoms to spin off into their endless variations. It was, however, a useful undertaking in that it's given me an idea for a group of works I'd like to do that incorporate these various techniques.

And who knows, I could use this piece as a bookmark, since I always seem to be losing them.