Like many artists, the nature around me and my relation to it, is a source of inspiration. I live in a forest in the middle of Sweden and spend alot of time wandering around with my dog and just being. Ferns grow in abundance here, a reminder of our primeval, prehistoric past.
The technique of monoprinting is a very exciting one because one cannot predict the final result. Here´s how I do it:
I select plants and leaves - sometimes small twigs when I meander in the forest. When I come home I take a piece of heavy weight, fine grained watercolor paper and stretch it. I spray the surface with water and let it soak in. The paper should be damp. Then I take a large brush and saturate it with color - a lot of paint is used in this technique. Just drop pools of color onto the paper. When the paper is full of color I arrange the leaves and other objects on the paper. The pigment should still be soaking into the paper. I study this process for a while because different pigments react differently. Here I must help the painting along by adding more pigment here or there or dispersing color with a water spray. When I´m satisfied I cover the objects with stones so they lay flat and are pressed onto the paper. The stones are also part of the composition they leave wonderful fascinating marks and add another texture to the painting.
Now it´s time for a cup of tea and a long wait. I usually let the painting dry overnight - it might even take longer. I sometimes help it along with a hair dryer. Now the exciting part - removing the the stones and leaves and seeing what lies underneath.
You can see in this painting, by pressing the the leaf on the paper, wet paint is pushed away under the fronds leaving an almost ghostly photographic image. The outline of the fern is defined because the pigment collects there.
I love to experiment with this technique, it makes me feel like an alchemist looking for the definitive combination of paper, pigment, water and objects. Waterford paper lends itself to sharp well defined images whereas Fabriano leaves more diffuse marks. Paper and pigments have their own characters and it´s my way to learn more about these wonderful materials.
Here is a series of ACEOs I have made with birch leaves.
I picked these leaves from the forest floor at the end of autumn. I have kept mostly with earthy colors and greys; raw umber,burnt sienna, paynes gray and neutral tint.
Raw umber is a grainy pigment and leaves a kind of gritty texture on the paper . See on the top left hand side of this first picture.