Thursday, 30 January 2014

Frottage and Leaf Relief

As I chose to look into how nature has inspired innovation, I was interested in how this related to several art practices.

Max Ernst

Initially, I found a true innovation in art in the form of Max Ernst's surrealist frottage. This technique is often associated with our childhood memories, where paper is placed over a natural textured surface i.e. wood, leaves etc. and graphite is rubbed over the paper to gain interesting effects which mimic the texture of the natural surface.

Max Ernst's 'Forest and Sun', Graphite Frottage on Paper, 1931
Ernst used this technique of frottage as a starting point to enable him to build on the initial lines and markings to create inventive, surrealist imagery.

Although the element of frottage is definite in Ernst's work, it often lacks colour and tones. Often the viewer has to piece together any meaning reflected in the imagery as it seems quite spontaneous, working with textures rather than a particular subject.

Leaf Relief

Through research, I found an interesting article by Cassie Stephens based on leaf relief, which explored the simple process in step by step form. Following this article, I created my own versions using found leaves.


- Found leaves spray mounted onto mount board
- Seal with more spray mount over entire surface
- Measure foil to size and place over board
- Carefully rub the foil over the surface to bring out the texture of leaves underneath
- Using black spray paint, completely cover foil
- Wait for paint to dry fully, use metal scourer to reveal foil underneath in certain places and to reveal lines of the leaves. 

After creating my test pieces, I was pleased with the result, though felt that some of the lines were lost among the foil scratching surrounding them. To make the lines clearer, I could try using string and other various materials to create the imagery. However, I think the hint of silver with the foil gives a more sophisticated, delicate finish which I value in the pieces.