There was a picture in the paper the other day of people at a funeral for a soldier who was killed in Iraq. I cut it out to use as subject matter. Because of the subject I thought I'd try a monoprint. I had all kinds of trouble getting things together.......couldn't find any actual tools or ink and had to improvise by mixing dried up etching ink mixed with IGA vegetable oil. I used to use Q-tips as my drawing instrument, but I had no Q-tips and substituted paper towels and charcoal blending stumps. I couldn't find any plexiglass, so took the glass out of two frames, one to roll up the ink and another to make the print.
The consistency of the ink mixture would have made my old print-making teachers cringe, but I forged ahead. Since I have no press, I planned to rub the print, using my favorite doorknob that I had for woodcuts. Since I was using real glass, I thought I should get a healthy coat of ink on it so I could transfer the image without needing to use much pressure. When I started to pull out the image, I knew I had gone overboard. The ink was so thick it was hard to scrape it down to the glass. I knew then and there that it would all close in on my marks when I rubbed it. Nevertheless, I did the best I could with the tools at hand and hoped for a miracle.
Well, all the faces I made in the background mostly fused into unrecognizable shapes, but I had two that were pretty much intact. Once the ink dried (an eternity since it was so thick) I was able to doctor it a little with watercolor. I subdued all the goulish looking shapes in the background and put some subtle washes on the figures. Thus organized, the marks made some sense and I was happy. There's nothing like a print to put an idea across.
Next, I made a watercolor painting of the same subject. I like it, but it looks mundane compared to the print. It adds one more element to my already confused sense of myself as an artist. Does technical ability trump raw emotion? I don't know.