Pool Poppies and Ring Daisy

In June I finally completed two paintings which had been living on and under my desk for months. Both are further exploring painting atop digital paintings and photographs I’ve printed onto canvas.

The struggles I faced trying to print and assemble the larger canvas ultimately led me to purchasing my big Epson SC-T2170

Pool Poppies – 24ʺ ✕ 18ʺ - Acrylic, inkjet, and mixed media on canvas (sold)

Ring Daisy – 18ʺ ✕ 18ʺ – Acrylic, inkjet, and mixed media on canvas

When I started this pair of paintings, I was thinking back to school where I had access to a big printer and print-making studio with an etching press.

I stumbled onto a technique where I would prepare the etching press with a large sheet of printmaking paper which I thoroughly soaked with water. Upstairs in the computer lab, I printed a large, 24ʺ ✕ 36ʺ image onto glossy photo paper. The moment the image was complete, I snatched it out of the printer, bolted downstairs, slapped the print ink-side-down onto the paper, folded the wool press blankets over the top, and ran it through the press.

The ink-jet image was pressed into the paper. The moister helps to free the ink. If I worked quickly, I could get 2, sometimes 3 more images. Each one a little more faded.

The resulting images became a bit blurry and the colors a bit saturated. Sometimes there would be bubbles and other weird artifacts that made the image come alive in a way that the low-quality printer output couldn’t match. It was exciting. I kept the first, best, print and used the others and backgrounds for big collage paintings.

I was hoping to recapture some of that magic here. Using my original large format Epson printer (max width of 13ʺ) I printed the components of each image in strips. I printed the portrait section of Pool Poppies in reverse, hoping to find some way to transfer the image. I have no printing press at my disposal.

I tried placing the image onto a layer of gesso (white acrylic primer) and letting it dry. Hoping to peel off most of the paper, leaving the image embedded in the acrylic medium.

This didn’t work - the paper buckled up on the wet acrylic and the resulting image was a smudgy mess.

I tried again with photo paper, and got nowhere. By now I had nearly wrecked this nice canvas. I peeled everything off, sanded down the surface and started over.

For the Ring Daisy, I struggled mightily to get the two strips of the image to just line up and stay on the canvas where I put them. Trying to assemble a larger image out of smaller prints was just not giving me the results I wanted. The seams were big and gross. Nothing was ever perfectly aligned. This was the motivation I needed to dive into my wishlist and buy the big printer.

Once it arrived I printed the background for Ring Daisy in one big glorious 18ʺ ✕ 18ʺ square.

I returned to work on Pool Poppies disguising the seams between sections with heavy paint application in geometric shapes and began to reproduce details of the background images on top with acrylic paint. I started by adding another layer of flags over the pool.

I turned my attention to a commission for some friends, and the paintings then sat. And sat.

This past winter felt especially dark and rainy. I think I feel this way every year, then the sun comes out and I have very specific amnesia.

I found a free weekend and some stamina and hauled everything outside to paint in the sun.

I added poppies and paint and cleaned up the lines and took photos and called them “done”.

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