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Ideas regarding sketching and the reversed image

It is seldom that paintings or prints follow a direct route, or a highly planned sequence of steps to completion. My making process is one of continuous reassessments to codifications, and re-adjustments to forms and relationships. This process can be seen as a type of sketching. The notion of sketching is rich, and informs much of my image-object making.  It is this notion too, that I am exploring through the monotypes that I am making in my painting studio.

A sketch is generally understood to be a looser, rough or unfinished type of drawing or painting that is made to quickly plot the essences of a subject matter as a brief account, an early version, or a general outline. Sketches are sometimes considered to be a type of mediation that is not far removed from the original experience, but one entailing an expression, a coded message, or a sense that is still unworked into a final form. The notion of sketching usually means a process that records specific information or develops specific relationships, but one that is somehow less complete than a finished artwork, and one that is in a form which allows for mistakes to be acceptable. Linked to the ideas that sketches are unfinished or incomplete portrayals, there are the ideas that sketches are more open to adjusting relationships, and are more open to previously unseen possibilities.

Sketching, when understood metaphorically, can be considered a primary aspect of my image making process: I propose that my image-object making process could be characterised by the notions of informality, emergence, and possibility contained in the general understanding of the notion of sketching. I am starting to think, for instance, that my printmaking and paintings seem to employ an approach to the layering of marks and colours that resonates with the notion of sketching as an exploratory and path-finding process. This is because the layering process that I undertake in my paintings and prints occurs in an associative way where the relationships that are created are sometimes planned and sometimes incidental, exist as a coding of aspects and details of the world, and are always open for adjustment.

I am starting to think that my paintings and prints are sketches for each other. I mean this in the sense that while there may be similarities in the images made through painting and printmaking, there are also material-conceptual properties in each form that creates intriguing differences, and that these properties can reveal to the other discipline previously unseen opportunities for image making. Regarding this last point, for instance, I have seen how my paintings, which used to almost exclusively employ opaque colour relationships, have been influenced by my etchings and monotypes, and now employ wider ranges of colour opacities and translucencies. Although the paintings and prints may be sketched for each other, my primary interest in incorporating printmaking in the painting studio is in its ability to support the re-evaluation and complication of my painted forms. The methods employed in the creation of monotypes allow for the spontaneous creation of formal relationships, and a freedom in the approach to image making. The monotypes I make in the painting studio, therefore, are focused on influencing my mark making in painting through the insights that can be learnt in making an inverted image using a sketching process which incorporates the linear and the painterly.

The idea of the inverted image is intriguing to consider through the notion of sketching in printmaking. When an image is pulled from a printing plate, that image is created through its imprint as a reverse of the image on the printing plate. This flipped image is revealed at the moment after printing as a somewhat unexpected image, especially in the monotyping process. The printing and revealing steps in the process of making a printed image adds something unexpected to the mark making in printmaking. The sketching through monotypes, therefore, is a way for me to explore more generative, or chance based marks and associations. I find the reversed image a valuable feature of printmaking in its incorporation into the painting studio because the unfamiliarity of the printed mark gives me an opportunity to reconsider and expand the type of marks that I make in paintings.

It could be said, then, that employing monotypes in the painting studio as part of a sketching process provides me with opportunities to reflect on the associated mark making in my paintings, and through this material-conceptual process, gives me an opportunity to explore, test, record, incorporate, and extend possible forms. The sketches that I make using the monotyping process allow me to see past the images that I expect, and notice what I might not have been able to see in another way.

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