Assignment 3-Exercise 1 Defining and Revealing My Making
Screenprinting Sampling Processes from Experimental Artwork
Gillian Morris Student No. 511388
The initial artwork inspirations for the screen-printing processes stemmed from researching visual imagery of neural mapping whereby many creative processes evolved using different techniques and materials. The visual basis of neural connectivity and disturbance, of human identity and connection acted as the starting point for my own creative need to emotionally express what I wanted to communicate concerning the scale of mental distress and the need for recovery. Mixed media work using several processes including pen, ink, acrylics, charcoal, and watercolours elicited the preferred outcomes, of the increased capacity for spontaneity and immersion, of the realisation of a creative flow. My own personal and professional experiencing was utilised using the felt sense, to use what I had felt and experienced from others mental distress and crisis through a psychotherapeutic process to recovery and repair, towards enhanced resilience and robustness, the emotional toll was extreme and not without its own vicarious effects.
As is customary with screen printing extensive preparatory work was undertaken given the requirements of such creative processes. The original artwork was scanned at the highest resolution which was 1200 within the Wasps studio complex so every nuance and mark made could be transferred onto the screens. To have the capacity to access such additional equipment and tools like the Brother A3 Print Copy Scanner aided what could be achieved in creative practice. Once uploaded I was able to use the Apple iMac with the latest software installed at Wasps to access Photoshop to prepare my artwork imagery for the screens for the sampling processes. As prepared second-hand screens were available to me many more screens than initially anticipated were used to increase my creative options with the range of mark making realised from the artwork.
There was a mix of screen sizes including 72 x 104.6cm, 27 x 68cm, 49 x 68cm, 82 X 99cm and 91.5 x 132cm to allow for altered scales between the layers of print. Half tones were used to aid the layering and separation processes as random placements and layouts were preferred. Many creative processes were experimented with to achieve preferred muliple versions. Elements of the imagery were selected to best encapsulate the themes as edge to edge printing was not sought, rather the layering effects were investigated. The randomness of neural connectivity was sought, of the effects of emotional distress based upon actual and/or percived threat, danger, risk and harm as compared with recovery and the calming of the autonomic nervous system.
The linen bedsheets were sourced from a number of sites using Ebay and Etsy as no such vintage linen could be located and sourced locally. Much time was afforded to visit second hand suppliers of linen within Scotland especially throughout Fife and Dundee but options were restricted which was further complicated by COVID-19, the effects of the pandemic and lockdown restrictions. I would have preferred a more personal provenance to the linen given my families direct connection with the production of linen but neverthe less I related with the cloth on sight given its age, wear and value. The beautiful quality vintage linen which was acquired was so obviously used, loved and cherished for many years as most bedlinen sheets had been hand embroidered with initials and miticulously repaired by hand on numerous occasions. The linen bedsheets were dyed varying shades of grey and were cut to approximately A1-A2 sizes to maximise what could be achieved from each sheet as no waste was sought. The sampling pieces varied as the vintage linen bedsheets were not regular sizes. Of the dyed bedsheets used their sizes included 285x 203cm, 200 x 224cm and 256 x205cm and varied in weight averaging between 1.5-2 kgs.
There was much deliberation over the colour choices given my narrative, of the need to accurately interpret and convey the emotional meaning of my creative process and work, of the visceral intent. That said the colours used for the sampling processes including colour mixing continued to change as different shades and tones were experimented with to alter the darkness and coolness with the lightness and brightness which was particularly pertinent to this project of work.
Through extensive colour sampling the preferred colour range evolved. I was led by the initial research processes of neural mapping and related artwork alongside further investigations concerning neural anatomy and physiology, of relatable colours to human tissue. Human brains are generally grey with black, white and red. As living matter, the brain is comprised of nerves, veins, blood vessels, cells, nerve fibres and neurons and neuro-connectors. The white matter of the brain is made up primarily of axon tracts, within some brain cells. These tracts transmit the electrical signals that the brain cells or neurons, use to communicate and are wrapped in a fatty layer called myelin, which insulates the axons and allows them to conduct signals quickly. The type of fat in myelin makes it look white, so myelin-dense white matter takes on a white hue as well. In contrast, grey matter is mostly neuron cell bodies and non-neuron brain cells called glial cells. These glial cells provide nutrients and energy to neurons. They help transport glucose into the brain, clean the brain of excess chemicals and are thought to affect the intensity of the neurons’ communications in the human brain. These cells are not surrounded by white myelin, they take on the natural greyish colour of the neurons and glial cells which looks pinkish-brown, due to the many tiny blood vessels or capillaries. That considered this understanding helped to inform the colour choices especially the selection of reds through to pinks, greys and black along with taupe and faded sienna’s and ochres.
Considerable information was gleaned from undertaking such a scale of sampling to ensure there was increased clarity of what felt right before moving onto the full sized dyed vintage linen bedsheets for the final exhibition of my creative work. Since I wanted to clearly communicate the effects of mental distress, to not dilute and distil but to evoke and challenge the reality of such experiencing relating to deep inward feelings I was led by how I felt in response to the screen printing. While this undertaking is theoretically driven it is not purely an intellectual and academic pursuit and endeavour rather the creative process has also been led by an innate, instinctive, and deep-rooted emotional drive to convey something of the neural overstimulation with distress coupled with the neural quietening through recovery and repair, of the imperative nature of support to reduce mental and physical arousal and damage. That visceral feeling was sought and responded to as I progressed through the sampling processes, of that intuitive gut response in-process as I related with the imagery selected, the screen placement and pressure applied through the squeegee use and the application of the inks within areas or throughout the screen. Given its relevance to human biology a range of reds were contrasted with greys to exemplify neural hyperactivity with the sparking connectivity of electrical impulses through autonomic hyperarousal as experienced within mental distress and crisis. When I felt emotion akin to what I felt in therapy with clients at particularly difficult moments of experiencing it felt real, authentic, and congruent to what I was communicating, it then resonated fully with the narrative through this creative process and work.
Through such sampling processes I was able to re-evaluate what was needed for larger scale work. Many of the screens with multiple mark making including use of multiple motifs will be changed as a consequence of such sampling processes. New artwork will be exposed onto these screens using one-off mark-making artwork imagery for the full sized vintage bedlinen sheets. This process of sampling enabled me to experiment with scale, layering, colour, and texture to understand the imagery in use and my relationship to and with it. I recognised the need to scale up and change some of the imagery for the crisis pieces to achieve something more akin to neural overstimulation and mental distress within such increased scale. The textural qualities exuded strength, resilence, robustness and wear in process which suited and matched the narrative, the story telling of personal journeys from mental despair and desolution to recovery and renewed coping, to highlight the need for acceptance of mental ill-health and the need for formal and informal support to aid mental health. Through this visual retelling an increased focus was then on communicating this process of recovery, of truimph over adversity, of managing to quieten the fear, emotional pain and hyperarousal towards the enhanced capacity to self-soothe and self-calm, to be with self without negative rumination and anxious anticipation, to experience more acceptance, acknowledgement and letting go free from judgement and criticism.
Through such sampling processes I couldn’t help but reflect upon so many individual therapy processes which I have been directly involved in which has informed my creative relationship with the vintage linen. I have been privileged to be part of such journeys, to witness others at their most vulnerable, at their rawest, of their willingness to share and let me see their hurt, pain and fear, to allow me to help them to help themselves. Such psychotherapeutic relating helped to lead the way concerning the visual representation of mental recovery and repair, of representing such therapy processes through screenprinting and stitching. Through reflecting in process I felt better placed to be emotionally responsive to conveying and communicating what I wanted to say creatively, to visually transfer such emotion into what I was doing in print and stitch.
I continued to be materials led in the first instance as previously reflected upon, to be led by the vintage linen, of its strength and capacity to hold the print and to accurately represent what was printed, of the materials capacity to capture and express every nuance and detail of the mark making which informed the creative process. The plan for the creative process continues to be embedded within the materials response, of a toing and froing between myself and the material, of a reciprocal process of relating founded upon a flexible open mindedness to being fully committed to each present moment and how I am led by my response to the materials response after each individual print. In doing so I leave myself open to what presents itself and do not close myself off to a range of options and possibilities. That said the sampling processes were extended beyond what was initially considered to fully envelope and embrace the emotional resonance of therapeutic change, of a range of stages, phases and shifts to encompass visually.
The screen-printing processes required the use of a range of equipment and tools but given the variable sizes of the screens more than one pair of hands was required when the larger screens were used. Several squeegees were used alongside different techniques to apply pressure and to spread the printing inks to realise varying effects on the printed surface of the vintage linen. Ultimately a felt sense was communicated through such use of emotionally charged reflections of growth and repair within the therapy process. Such a creative process brought back such strong emotion of prior experiencing as I felt driven by such feelings to make and communicate the capacity for change, to create something that’s a reflection of me and the therapy process visually. Through expressing feelings, I felt more connected to the creative process and freed up to respond with the material.