Print No. 13: The Sorceress

Morgan le Fay is the architect of magic in the poem of Sir Gawain and the Green knight. Here she evolves from drawing through the multiple stencils that will produce the layers of colour in the finished print.

The drawing is made on board and underlies the transparent stencils throughout the process of rendering them, providing me with a guide so that everything aligns. The plastic layers are held in place with alignment pins and punched tabs.

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I make textures using a scalpel to cut through lithography crayon.

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Opaque red oxide paint is used to create flat areas of colour in the finished print.

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The colour samples will guide Daniel Bugg when mixing the inks for printing.

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Texturising the beast’s pelt and modelling with shadow.

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When overlaid the layers of stencils get very dark. Everything will look completely different when printed in colour.

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The outlines of Morgan le Fay, her beast, the flames springing from the beast’s feet and the flowers diapering the composition, have to be carefully drawn around in order to create the background. Because the background is to consist of three layers of colour, the process has to be completed three times, which is both time consuming and a tad boring.

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The flames are rendered to lend form.

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Here the image has been photographed with just three layers of stencils. There are seven stencils required for the finished print, but when the seven are layered they become so dark that the image doesn’t photograph well.

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dance of death

I posted here a few weeks ago about making a skeleton version of Joseph the Soldier for the scene in which the Devil comes to claim him.

There’s nothing in the  Soldier’s Tale libretto to tell us what Joseph’s fate is, beyond the fact that the Devil comes to claim him. In the animation I have him roasted by his captor’s fiery breath.

It’s a grisly end, and one I afterwards felt uncomfortable about because it’s not a pleasant thing to commit a character you care a great deal about to being so cruelly done away with. Nevertheless, I stuck with the idea, and when I watched the scene at the Hay Festival, I was confident that it worked.

At her Hills of Nottingham blog, Charlotte Hill has posted a story she’s written full of strange and haunting imagery, including that of a skeleton, and it’s rather lodged in my imagination. Charlotte explains that her story is a work-in progress, and so please bear that in mind should you read it. But whether in this early state or in a version yet-to-be-decided, there’s much to think about in her tale of an unfortunate girl consigned to a watery grave.