One of the great thing about rubber stamps is that you can, with proper execution, get a good, clean, precise image. One of the bad things about rubber stamps is that exact same quality! Too many folks get hung up on exactness and pristine execution and we forget that art, like life, is a messy, sloppy, gooey infusion of enthusiasm and creativity. The idea behind this section centers on the use of these tactilely interactive vulcanized tools for the replication of graphic imagery (yes, I have WAY too much time on my hands!) to create images are very suggestive of watercolor.

Several water-based markers or watercolor paints can be applied to the printing surface of a stamp. A good "spritzing" of water from a fine-spray atomizer is aimed at the rubber and when the water beads up and starts to look like it will run off the printing surface, you touch the stamp to your paper. (Don't mash it into the paper! You want the water and the pigmentation to float on top. This is how the effect of one color flowing into the other occurs.) What you get are marvelous watercolor-type effects that have to do with shapes on the rubber image and not the specific detail. These shapes are good for suggestive and evocative imagery. The mind is more engaged when it has to fill in some of the pieces of an image.

You can also use a
positioner to layer on more colors and shapes found on the rubber. After an initial print is made and left to dry, align the positioner and leave it in place as you add more color to the rubber, spritz, and layer up more over that initial image. Start light in your color choices and gradually build and build and build. It's possible to create images that look like you're a whiz with watercolor! (A positioner is a registration device that allow you to put a stamped image anywhere you want with precision. If you are unfamiliar with one, ask your local stamp or craft supply store for a demonstration.)

We notice things because of their differences. We can take this truism, apply it to the spritzing idea and create a whole field of diffused images that start noticeably and fade into the background. After you apply pigmentation to the rubber, spray and make that first print, you add more water again and again to the stamp in the same manner and make more prints. (Don't just spray one time and then stamp until dry; keep adding water in-between each impression. Otherwise you get a weak print of the details on your stamp, instead of a watery, suggestive image.) This spreads the remaining ink around and creates a whole series of these diffused images that will gradually get lighter and lighter as the ink diminishes. Most people who have played with watercolor know that to lighten a particular paint or pigment you usually add more water to it. This is essentially the same principal for this approach.

After you have let your field of images dry, again use a positioner to make a print over one of these diffused shape. This time, ink up the rubber properly and lay a crisp, detailed image down. Since all of our diffused images lack detail and gradually lighten in value, by focusing attention on one particular image we can visually "bring it to the front" and, thereby, "push" the others to the back and further our sense of depth. Depending on the type of ink that is used to make this detailed print, we can add additional color with either markers, watercolor or colored pencils. This has the potential of focusing our attention even more to this main image and really make is stand out amongst our field of suggestive, non-specific imagery.

Click over to a full blown run-through of a project utilizing this technique:


Also a link to the class schedule.

copyright 2017 Fred B. Mullett