The importance of a good reference photo can’t be ignored when working representationally (even when working from life, most artists still take photos.) Once the painting is done, though, the reference photos may seem kinda useless. But, I’ve found new ways to make use of these photos by utilizing them for cyanotypes!
I’ve used some of my barbie pictures, to some cool results. I like how the cyanotype kind of blurs the sense of size and depth to the point that the final images almost look like human portraits. Well, not all of them…
I’ve also made use of my sheet mask reference photos (along with some experimenting with the plate):
I’m really loving exploring literally the exact same subject matter in two completely different mediums (photography and painting.) It gives me the chance to explore a subject in both a more labored process, as well as a very immediate one. After agonizing over one painting for 10 hours, sometimes being able to make 10 prints in one morning is the perfect palette cleanser.
Monotypes are a medium that I have been playing with off and on for a few years. For those who don’t know, a monotype is a kind of print that, rather than being made using a printing matrix (like woodcuts), instead involves basically painting a non-textured plate with inks. The plate is then placed with a piece of paper and run through a printing press, producing a one-time, unique printed image. It’s basically the closest printmaking comes to painting, and is probably the least structured or technical form of it. I personally don’t own a printing press (the small ones run in the thousands of dollars,) but a good friend who is kind enough to let me into her studio every once in a while lets me use hers. Here are some pieces from the most recent session:
The above was the first one I made. I wanted to see how my recent “Doe Eyes” series would translate from watercolor to printmaking. I basically painted some pretty straightforward, normal eyes and lips and decided to let the press add the more unique, abstracted aspects to the image. This one didn’t satisfy me in that the end result looked too “normal,” so I decided to really glob the ink on in the following prints:
I added too much ink to the lips, and the run through the press made a really happy accident by creating this tongue effect. Miley Cyrus would love them.
Above is the “ghost” print made from the same plate. It’s made by running the same plate through the press again. The ink residue left over makes a lighter, ghost-like version of the first print. I often favor the ghost prints over the others.
Maybe someday I’ll have a great studio space and enough money saved up to buy my own press and do these more regularly, because they’re so fun. It’s often exhilarating to see the image that the press will give you. My tendency with painting faces is always to make them look controlled and clean- I have a hard time abstracting them. With monotyping, I can paint a pretty structured image and then let the press create the abstract elements for me!
I’m beginning to notice a pattern wherein during the times when I don’t quite know what to paint with my “core” work, i.e my oil paintings, I frequently retreat to fiddling around with watercolor. Although, like a lot of painters whose preference is to work in oils, watercolor’s unpredictability and permanence tends to frustrate me. However, over the years of working off and on with the medium, I’ve started to get more comfortable. Not to mention, I work small and on pretty inexpensive (none of that 300lb stuff) paper, so I’m okay with it not turning out great every time and simply being happy when it does.
Previously, I’ve only been interested in non-objective forays into watercolor. Recently, however, I’ve become interested in portraiture. Stylized, of course.
Doe Eyes, watercolor on hot press. By Megan Koth. Prints, etc. available from my store.
Doe Eyes III, watercolor on hot press. By Megan Koth. Prints, etc available from my store.
Sometimes, it can be beneficial to use a medium that you’re not all that invested in. Although it doesn’t always work out, during the times that it does, the results can be refreshingly interesting.