Screen printing on acrylic paint. Mark Williams is an artist in love with caves. His favorite activity outside of the studio is visiting, exploring, and photographing the inner life of these structures. The vivid and suggestive abstract cool drawings in the studio, made with acrylic paints on screen-printed canvas, are based on the organic motifs found inside the caves. Each cave talks to him. He admits correctly. Referring to his desire to play in a National Park Service Artist-in-Residence show, Williams says: I would love to go to a cafe and sit there and draw for hours on end. You can’t do that sort of stuff in trade caves with. Guides push people. In that position, all I can perform is take as many photos as possible while I’m there. Williams photographs these subterranean voids as if he could absorb them in doing so.
A change inspired by a cave
It would not be obvious to refer to Williams as a spelunker. Spelunker is a derogatory term among those who seriously explore caves and cave formations. Cavers are inexperienced hobbyists who often get into trouble. I am a caver. Caver Rescue caver! This difference is expected from someone whose artwork and inspiration are only based on his desire for caves.
Williams, a University of Miami graduate, specializing in painting and printmaking, accidentally discovered his visceral relationship with caves while traveling through Virginia to research graduate programs. He had no going back once he made that first spontaneous visit to a cave years ago. The protest themes of his early works, along with his penchant for kitsch, toy soldiers, Play-Doh, and flea market displays as artistic tools for social commentary, have waned. He set aside those political interests, partly because the United States had withdrawn from Iraq, but also to explore, understand, and photograph the underground organic structure of the caves. This unexpected artistic shift represented a significant shift from the intended narrative to a highly individualized form of pure color field abstraction.
Williams’ transition to brightly colored abstract works did not occur in an empty vacuum. He is a man deeply immersed in advanced color theory, particularly in the seminal work of Josef Albers. Another primary developmental influence that influenced Williams’s color choices and his deliberate move toward abstraction is the time he spent helping to classify and maintain the extensive LeWitt collection, consisting primarily of conceptual and minimalist elements by Sol LeWitt and others. Artists. LeWitt’s long and intimate exposure to brightly colored, minimalist, and geometric drawings and paintings had a profound and lasting effect on Williams’ artistic vocabulary.
Williams’ cave-based work now completely avoids narrative elements, ruled patterns, and geometric landmarks. Additionally, Williams continually discusses, deliberates, and experiments with limited but theatrical color options, which he organically applies to flat areas, often without any hint of brush strokes or surface textures.
The screen printing process
Although William’s process includes painting, he describes himself as a printer aptly. It is partly because he likes the idea of making changes, but mainly because his creative drive is devoted to the methodical pace of repetitive processes. Collect your print motifs from long cave photography sessions. It is followed by many hours of computer work isolating, digitally retouching, and manipulating small, close-up sections of your photos. It will zoom in or out on your digital images to bring out an abstract, irregular pattern that you can use as the basis for a new composition or series. Williams will then write the chosen item in black ink on an acetate sheet or translucent paper.
The design should be burned onto a framed fine mesh polyester screen, which he will use to create the print. In the past, Williams has burned his screens himself, but lacking expensive commercial equipment and finding the process slow, he followed the example of Andy Warhol and Robert Rauschenberg; now you have your screens blown by a service provider. Registration waterproofs the negative screen area around the drawing but leaves the drawing area open. Once the case is active, Williams puts it on its print surface, usually dyed fabric or canvas or fabrics with whimsical patterns or kitschy figures. Then, he presses the ink through the screen mesh onto the print surface with a spatula. The ink flows through the open spaces of the cover, writing the plan.
Variations on a theme
Williams’ screen prints a chosen image many times, from art to canvas, often becoming the place or adjustment of the image to produce the look of a variety of forms. Working in this way, Williams quickly creates the beginning of a series based entirely on photographic details engraved on the screen. You can then deal with this detail in multiple ways by printing a different image on top of the first one or simply rotating the original image to get a different composition density.
Williams now takes his screen-printed fabric and lays it on a pre-stretched chalk canvas. At this point, he often seals the material with a diluted liquid opaque medium. This medium provides a base that will prevent the acrylic paint from absorbing into the fabric. Williams then projects an image of additional detail of the cave onto the stretched silk screen fabric. He carefully applies acrylic paint over the image, filling the projected shape with color. Painting the projected picture rather than outlining the projection and then painting is essential.
I could never obtain relief from the pencil lines. I can eliminate that passage by simply painting directly over what is projected. The finished product must be perfectly clean. I have been working with projected images for 20 years. And I am working in this immaculately natural to me. I paint like an engraver. Williams’s carefully selected color options are often provocative and unusual, and his painted shapes’ edges are crisp, complex, and clearly defined. He has been studying with fluorescent paint colors for more exciting variations. He likes golden acrylics for their great pigment mass, and he also prefers Lefranc & Bourgeois Flashe vinyl-based colors.