Seeking my mojo in Florence

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During the first two weeks of May, Viv and I went once more to refresh our art practice to Firenze on a monotype workshop run by the American master printmaker Ron Pokrasso pokrasso@shaening.com and Jane Pagliarulo.

As before, the workshop took place in Santa Reparata International School of Art right opposite our hotel, near San Marco and thankfully just outside of the over-touristed centre of the city. There were good working spaces, 4 etching presses, good computer access, very friendly and helpful staff and a friendly group of fellow artists mostly from the USA.

My art practice has been frustratingly stuck for over two years and I went not for the technical tuition but for the distance, difference, workshop facilities and good artistic company and challenge in which develop my art practice. Knowing Ron and several of the participants from the last workshop and working in a large side room with other artists helped foster the conditions for potential change.

For my first print I used a drawing of a Marini sculpture to get going. Laying my drawing under the transparent plate I worked on the plate using rollers and card to add the Akua ink and drew with the edge of the card into the ink. The print made on Arches 88 paper was fine but harked back to my previous work and was a little boring. So, I reworked the ghost image left on the plate, made a second print then used a roller and pieces of card to work on the piece directly and help burst the image out of the constraints of the plate edge across the paper.

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The next image of a diving horse and rider also came from a drawing I did of a Marini, heavily overworked on the paper breaking the boundaries of the plate edge to good effect but it still felt constrained.

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The following print I elaborated on the image giving the rider flaming wings and began thinking of developing a Prometheus theme. The image was worked over the plate edge after printing but it still felt a little tame so I tore the paper to reshape it to re-inforce the dynamism of the image.

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I was still disappointed in the result but knew that the important thing was to keep experimenting and challenging myself to change as an artist, so off I went to the Marino Marini museum again for inspiration and this time saw his work very differently. I was particularly interested in the mark making of his prints and paintings and on the surface of his sculpture and returned to the print room with renewed enthusiasm and thoughts.

After a couple of hours work the plate image was so heavily inked and drawn into that I had to blot it before it could go through the press or it would have just squidged under pressure. This method became known in our group as ‘the breath of Ron’ who showed me how to do it. I gently laid a sheet of newsprint over the plate and blew on it to help create a light contact evenly across the surface and thus remove the excess ink. Total magic! To my surprise the pre-print on the newsprint was far more interesting than the actual print! It had more of the drawing and interesting marks and I began to see a way forward to create more interesting and dynamic images.

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See part 2 coming soon for where my journey has taken me!

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