My career path has included wiring company internets, managing computer networks, coding applications, etc. Geek? Yep! So I’ve been reflecting on my transformation into an artist over the years and how these two occupations have informed each other. Ever the geek, I tend to want to combine mediums and fix processes that I don’t like in the traditional sense – by utilizing the Gel Press to create a solution, simplify or condense steps.

The most hilarious part, sometimes is watching these old FaceBook Live sessions – horrible ‘production quality’ aside, they were informative and off-the-cuff. Here are some memorable moments:

  • In September of 2016, Alcohol Ink printmaking, including Copic Various Inks, Ranger Alcohol Inks and Stazon solvent inks and subsequently a more detailed version, albeit still with poor lighting (forgive me, but it was live and I cannot fix it post production). Of course I had been doing a weird method of this type of printing, albeit with hand sanitizer as a ‘medium’ years before I discovered how well the Gel Press releases media from its surface.
  • In May of 2017, I presented inkjet image transfers via a Facebook Live – and I’ve created several different iterations, including
  • printing onto tumbled marble tiles,
  • newsprint/book text transfer methods

But with all this experimenting, I never present a technique, unless I feel that ’75 people in a workshop’ could be successful with it.

Even though I feel that I was the first to stumble upon the release qualities of Gel Press as it relates to alcohol ink and solvent ink pads, I’ve never felt that an artist OWNS a technique. This stems to going back to the ateliers, where copying a master’s work was the expected path, before an artist would ever be allowed to pursue their own style. The internet, especially video, allows that sharing on a massive scale. I may have ‘invented’ alcohol ink monoprinting – or perhaps somebody else did and never published their findings. Who knows? It doesn’t matter that much as long as people enjoy consistent results with a technique, to my mind. Although I will admit having Tim Holtz send me a PM about my video, saying it was one of his favorites and asking if he could show my technique, ‘giving me full credit of course’, is something I won’t soon forget. And I think therein lies the answer – give credit where credit is due.

So that is why I always want to give full credit for someone presenting a technique first. Sometimes it is just the first time you saw it – sometimes they created it. Most of us seem to be coming up with things spontaneously at the same time. It’s a good thing. Although honestly it isn’t always best to be first. As in the case of…

Back in March of 2018, Birgit Koopsen presented an image transfer technique which I had experimented, but not been able to get consistent results with – using high-end magazines. As I had experienced – a LOT of people were dissatisfied with the technique – because it was too hit or miss. The essence of the technique was

  1. placing acrylic paint onto the gel plate.
  2. Applying the vintage book or magazine image face-down.
  3. Once this page was removed, this then removes the paint that had been absorbed by the image source. (in essence, the paint left behind was because the print ‘resisted’ the paint)
  4. Then the paint on the plate was allowed to dry,
  5. And finally it was ‘picked up’ with another layer of contrasting acrylic paint.

The WHYs and HOWs hadn’t been fully worked out – and I felt those pangs of ‘ouch’ when I saw how people were responding, in frustration.

I then found a method with which I was satisfied. I wanted to be able to both manipulate the image, before transferring as well as print onto an already prepared surface to create a layered print. Here is where I presented the technique:

This is still my preferred technique for several reasons:

  1. I can visibly see the oil paint absorbing through the magazine, which gives me an indication of how ‘developed’ it is during the process. It also allows me to peek, and press down to continue the absorption.
  2. The medium is transparent so you can see through to the details underneath the print. I layer my prints, so this is important to me.
  3. The medium stays open, so I have the time adequate to wipe away, clean up, texture and manipulate the image to the degree to which I am satisfied with it
  4. The level of detail in unsurpassed, regardless of the substrate I am printing upon.
  5. The process absorbs the oil paint – into the magazine page, into the printing surface – all while still allowing open time, yet dries within minutes once printed.
  6. If I wish to, I can wipe off the oil paint from the magazine page, gently, and preserve it for use as part of the final artwork. It may be stained from whichever color I have used, but the color is faint and transparent – and it retains its integrity as a magazine image for part of the collage.
Gel Press Magazine Image Resist Transfer

R and F Oil Pigment Stick in Quinacridone Magenta on vintage ledger paper.

But over the past year I have been made aware that this art material is not always available or accessible to every artist around the world. And so I went back to the drawing board, or the Gel Press plate, so-to-speak – to experiment further with both acrylic paints AND surfaces to present these findings to you.

The use of acrylic paints to perform this technique leads to an image transfer that cannot be manipulated during the process (with the exception of Golden Open). It can be manipulated later on in your art-making; but the transfer steps require rapidity in order for it to work at all. I have created several prints, below. Each is captioned with the type of paint, paper, etc. to give you an idea of how they were created. All of these prints were created by:

  1. placing acrylic paint onto the gel plate.
  2. Applying the vintage book or magazine image face-down.
  3. Applying firm pressure, but once the image has made good contact, removing it within seconds.
  4. Once this page was removed, this then removes the paint that had been absorbed by the image source. (in essence, the paint left behind was because the print ‘resisted’ the paint)
  5. Quickly placing your substrate on the plate and applying firm pressure to make sure you have good contact. Give it enough time to adhere, maybe count to 15? And then pull the print.

No drying time.

No pickup printing.

Each image was either from Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar or Wine Spectator magazine. I have used British and Japanese versions of these magazines as well as the U.S. publications.

Please enjoy the gallery. Each image will click to a much larger sized print, in a new window. My notes are above each image. The caption displays the materials. They are in no particular order.

Excellent details with this paint. And to be fair, the backdrop was a pastel rose color, so that is why it isn’t as neat around the edges. A bit pixelated in final appearance, but very acceptable to me.

Gel Press Magazine Image Resist Transfer

Chroma Atelier Interactive acrylic paint in Dioxazine Purple on Hammermill Color Copy Paper.

This paint was the most consistent of the ranges that I tried out. I had to work quickly, but the level of detail and crispness was well worth the rush. The paint is of good quality so that you can see through it to the background graphic, which I prefer.

Gel Press Magazine Image Resist Transfer

Royal Talens Amsterdam Standard Series acrylic paint in Phthalo Blue on vintage ledger paper.

When using Golden Open, similar to the R&F Oil Pigment sticks, it was important NOT to manipulate the image once you placed it on the plate, or you will get artifacts from the media moving around. These are usually minimal – and as you will see in the second sample, where I overprinted an existing patterned print – almost invisible in the final product. You have to wait a bit longer before picking the magazine page up off of the page, to give it time to ‘develop’. Maybe a minute – but then you will be rewarded with a very detailed print, and still have time to clean it up and texture before printing it.

Gel Press Magazine Image Resist Transfer

Golden Open acrylic paint in Cobalt Turquoise on Hammermill Color Copy Paper.

As you can see, again, with the Golden Open – the transparency of the paint gives wonderful subtlety to overprinting layers. Crisp imagery, regardless of the material you are printing on.

Gel Press Magazine Image Resist Transfer

Golden Open acrylic paint in Permanent Maroon on Cougar Opaque cardstock, preprinted with a prior layer of acrylic paint.

The Pebeo print was more opaque in nature, and you had to work quickly – but a satisfying result. The only thing I don’t like is the granularity or pixelation of the media – if you wanted a more precise transfer.

Gel Press Magazine Image Resist Transfer

Pebeo High Viscosity acrylic paint in Paynes Grey on vintage ledger paper.

This paint was far more opaque than the others, but although it had that same ‘pixellation’ worked very well with a graphic image such as this one. Not so well with fine details.

Gel Press Magazine Image Resist Transfer

Liquitex Heavy Body acrylic paint in Muted Pink on printed cardstock with ledger background.

I decided to put the Amsterdam paints to the easiest surface for fine detail – surprisingly, tissue paper, from common gift wrapping department. The detail was astonishing.

Gel Press Magazine Image Resist Transfer

Royal Talens Amsterdam Standard Series acrylic paint in Phthalo Blue on gift wrap tissue paper.

In the end, my three favorite mediums for image transfer are:

  • R&F Oil Pigment Stick
  • Golden Open
  • Royal Talens Amsterdam Standard Series.

Have you been with me all this way? It’s been a journey today! But all that being said, the journey to presenting these techniques has not always been as satisfying as either of us would like. I stopped doing FaceBook Live sessions, mostly because people would complain about my lighting. And I was trying – but the combination of webcam and my studio just wasn’t cooperating.

Making high production value videos is something that I’ve left to our incredible artists, such as Kate Crane, Ana Bondu and Elizabeth St. Hilaire, while I have been more behind the screen at work, as well as traveling.

But I have found an artist who is doing an amazing job of highlighting this type of technique on Instagram – so definitely take a look at her videos. And if you are in the mood to purchase an online workshop, look her up. by Lydia Rink of Germany. Was happy to see she is using an 8×10 Gel Press plate. Woot! We aren’t affiliated – but I greatly admire the prints she is making.

But my goal, once Summer is behind us – is to get my studio lighting back in order. I have a new graphics production desktop computer / web cam that I am setting up, and once that is in place I will get to work on the lighting.  So my Facebook Live presentations will be back in September – once the production values meet our mutual expectations.

Make sure to share your thoughts in the comments below.

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