My Line is Emo

Hello! This is my post regarding our first 2D project: My Line is Emo. I decided to combine my research, process and final in one post so that it is easier to navigate. Hope you enjoy!


We were asked to bring materials to class to experiment with. I personally like to do stuff related to nature or how other objects interact with them, so I gathered up leaves, branches, twigs, pebbles and rocks of different sizes and brought them to class. It was interesting observing their different shapes and sizes! A pity I couldn’t really pick off leaves of flowers from living plants since I’d feel bad for them. 🙁


I had my first printmaking lesson today. Joy taught us the different ways we could utilize the linoleum sheets and printmaking ink, and left everything after that to as far as our imaginations could take us to.

Experimentation 1

I really had no idea what to start with, so I just took a bunch of foliage I gathered up, placed them on the linoleum sheet and pressed it down to obtain a print.

First print of the project!

The pattern turned out pretty nice, with the silhouette of the leaves clearly shown in the positive space against the really dark negative black ink. After that I immediately did a second print without re-inking the sheet, hence the negative space is much less obvious, giving off a more blurry outline of the plants and they are not as easily recognizable as the first print, which I found to be an interesting effect.

Experimentation 2

I wanted to capture the ‘skeleton’ of the different types of leaves I collected, so I rolled black ink over the side of the leaf with their veins protruding out and pressed them down on the presser.

Some of the more obvious veins have been painted.

And… this is the result!

Leaves of different shapes and sizes.

I found it interesting that for the third and fourth leaf in the picture, it was hard to actually paint their veins due to their uneven nature, hence I only managed to roll over the parts that are protruding out of them plus the central stalk.

Another long leaf stalk that I tried out.

Overall, observing their shapes was really interesting and helped me have a better understanding of their anatomy.

Experiment 3

I took the same long leaf stalk, dipped some parts of the stalk into a lot of ink, resulting in some parts being denser in ink than others. Afterwards, I just hit the stalk down hard on the paper, generating some splotches of ink.


Black ink is left on the paper based on where I dipped ink on the leaf stalk.

Some marks left can be faintly made out to be the shape of leaves, but other than that most of it would turn out to be something unrecognizable.

Experiment 4

I wanted to try making prints in a different way, so I placed some twigs and grass on the linoleum sheet, placed a piece of newsprint over it, and used a bigger stalk to press it down and roll it back and forth over the paper.

Me using a huge branch to press the newsprint paper.
The result.

Since the force applied by my hands are uneven compared to the presser, the shapes of the foliage are completely unrecognizable, the black ink covering the paper is very faded, with the white positive space in big patches, giving off a very uneasy and incomplete feeling.

Experiment 5

I dipped a rock in black ink and dropped it randomly on the newsprint, leaving it up to the element of chance and surprise. The marks created were not very obvious since it was a small rock and the area that comes in contact with the paper is very small. Furthermore, the distance dropped was really short, so the impact was really small and the ink dispersed was also miniscule.

The rock did not create much of a impact upon landing on the paper.

That concludes the first day of my exploration and experimentation.


This time, I not only brought leaves and twigs, but I also managed to find some tree bark to experiment with since they have a very rough and uneven texture that I can work with.

Experiment 6

(I) I painted one side of the tree bark with black ink and pressed it down on the newsprint paper. I realized due to the uneven nature of the material that I have to press it back and forth to evenly spread out the whole bark’s texture on the paper.

Pressing the bark back and forth.

(II) I dipped another piece of bark I obtained on the black ink and swiped it across the paper. However since the bark is once again uneven only a few portions came in contact with the bark.

The uneven nature made very little ink come in contact with the bark.
Doing fast and quick motions of swiping the bark across the paper.

I swiped the bark across a few times to get a blur of strokes across the paper.

Experiment 7

I wanted to create an explosion like effect to emulate surprise, so I painted a entire rock with black ink and wrapped it up like a satchel.

The… slightly anticlimactic result. 🙁

The results certainly did not meet my expectations… It was just a small patch in the middle of the paper where the rock was, there was nothing really ‘explosion’ about it other than the creases of paper spreading out from where I wrapped the rock up with. At least now I know what works and what doesn’t!

Experiment 8

I took the remaining ink left on one of the leaf and pressed it down by hand in a parabola fashion, which from afar almost looked like it could pass off as human thumbprints on the paper. Since I was out of time, I didn’t really have much of a chance to explore with this concept. But from what I tried, due to the uneven force applied by a human hand, the marks left on the paper are also very uneven and dispersed.

Small faint marks left by the leaves on the paper.


Experiment 9

(I) The idea of nature interacting with man made objects crossed my mind the other day, so while gathering my next batch of materials from trees and grasses, I also picked up some litter I found on the floor, mainly cigarettes. I incorporated cigarettes into my next piece, which is scattering small leaves semi-randomly on the linoleum sheet.

I rolled some ink over the leaves to not only capture their form but also some of the veins to give it a bit more structure. Two cigarette butts were placed in there as well, which actually blended in quite well with the leaves until upon closer inspection. The print came out quite nicely, with the positive space clearly showing the form of the leaves against the pitch black background since I used a presser for this one.

(II) Using the side of the leaves that was facing downwards towards the ink, I rearranged them on a newsprint since the ink underneath the leaf was transferred onto the leaf and is untouched. So now the form and shape of the leaves would become the negative space and the paper itself is the positive space.

It almost looked like it was saying ‘leaf me alone…’

This created a slightly melancholy effect, almost looking like they are actually falling off trees in a still, like there is some sort of implied movement. This print also became part of my LONGING line which I would elaborate on later.

Experiment 10

This time I dipped a huge leaf in ink (again.. yea it sounds a bit repetitive even to me) and slammed, swipe, dragged it across the paper in an attempt to express rage, along the lines of ‘abusing’ the plant and causing harm to it.

Me experimenting different ways I could express rage on the leaves.
The result was a huge mess… and was oddly satisfying.

Patches of black ink are visible across the paper, as well as fast and furious drag marks, plus some faintly visible shapes of leaf imprints on the paper, which were the 3 movements I was mainly trying to express in this work. It strangely allowed me to vent out some pent up anger and create a work of emotion.




As previously stated in experiment 9, I ended up using that test print as part of my final work since I liked it a lot. The leafs portray a certain sense of implied movement like they are falling, or how I would imagine it as someone looking out of the window looking at leafs falling off the tree, giving a strange sense of melancholy. It seems to yearn for something more, but never being quite able to achieve it.

The faint shapes and veins that could be seen in the leafs give off a more gentler and tender feeling compared to the darker tones of the leafs in my LONELINESS line, hence the mood conveyed turned out to be more positive and cheerful.


I had no idea how I wanted to express JOY when I was first doing this piece, so I placed some nicely shaped leafs on the presser to get their white silhouettes.

Two of ’em of different sizes.

The print turned out pretty barren and empty, so I added some ixoras to the sheet and reprinted it.

These small ixoras look really dainty and cute for some reason.

The resulting print ended up more dynamic, since the small ixoras give the print different shapes and sizes rather than just two bland leafs of similar build. The spreading out of leafs also made the work look more upbeat, hence the joy and satisfaction also stemmed from there. Thus I named this line CONTENTMENT.


Inspired by Experiment 5, I decided to give the rock-dropping technique another try, but this time with 5 different rocks across 3 A2 size newsprints and from even greater heights.

Coating the entire rock with black ink.
Dropping it from roughly a 1m height.
The aftermath of randomly dropping 5 rocks for 5 minutes.

I dropped my rocks from different heights too since different height affects the impact of the rocks on the floor differently, and hence how the ink is dispersed across the paper. Doing it on a big piece of paper is definitely more satisfying since the results are more visible and well… unexpected. A few times, when I dropped the rock, it did not create a black splotch of ink, but instead long streaks of ink running parallel to each other are created. I am not sure how this happens, but it definitely caught me off guard and I was pleasantly surprised.


Torment was one of the synonyms provided for anger, hence I referred back to Experiment 3, but this time hitting the plant stalks on the paper even harder such each slap sounded like a whip being slapped across the floor.

Using big leafs
Using twigs.
Comparison between the two.

The one done with twigs made the work look a lot more sharp and explosive, hence it does not seem to convey the feeling of torment really well. However, the one done with leaves covered a bigger area, looks more chaotic and the different thickness of inks also make the work look more natural. The shape of the leafs when slapped seems to give off some sort of whirlpool effect since I tackled the paper from different directions. All these seem to give off a more negative vibe more suitable for ANGER, which I translated it to TORMENT.



This line was inspired from ‘Songs of Cicada’ by Chua Ek Kay.

Song of Cicada (1995) Chua Ek Kay 1800mm x 3600mm Retrieved from on 10/9/2017.

His use of space within the minimalistic work struck a chord within me, since it seems to exude a sense of loneliness and is very barren and desolate. Each brush stroke, representing a leaf, is placed far apart from each other across the different panels, the obvious divide between them making the remoteness between them even more obvious.

I first worked with 4 leaves on a linoleum sheet, trying to replicate the effect of the huge painting. However, the leaves serve as the positive space and the black ink is the negative space, similar to experiment 9 above.

Four lonely leaves on the sheet.

This ink used was wetter than the one I previously used, hence the immediate result is really wet and glossy.

I proceeded to press the linoleum sheet a second time since the ink underneath the leaves were untouched.

The mark the leaves left.
The result.

The background now becomes off-white while the leafs leave a clear imprint on the paper, giving off a very gloomy vibe. This effect was close to what I wanted, but since I was using a different presser the off-white background was very uneven and I had to redo it a few more times.

I also tried to use a roller to roll over the leafs and ink.
The countless tries I did to try and get the desired effect.
Some of the small leafs used. It is really amazing how no two organic objects will ever look the same.

Ultimately, I went with this print. The black silhouettes of the leafs make the work feel darker, the leafs almost looking like a endless dark void, so far away from each other, never to meet.


I did this print by taking a long thin branch, spreading it across the sheet and printed it out.

Loooooong and thin.

The first print gave very stark contrast of black and white, which looked very outstanding since the work looks very minimalistic. The person’s eyes would have immediately been drawn to follow the ‘line’ on the paper from left to right as it spreads out of the paper, making the work look somewhat incomplete. This however did not satisfy the ‘SADNESS’ effect I wanted, so I pressed the print a second time without the branch.

The lines are now much blurrier and less well defined, the ink is uneven throughout the print, as if it also became unconfident of itself. This seems to convey the mood of apprehension better too since the dark tones of the painting the atmosphere very uncertain.




Choosing the right image to show.

I ultimately chose the area that shows bolder and thinner patches of ink to give it more dynamic and emotion.


Not the final line.

For this line, I ended up going with a sparse arrangement of 4 leafs in the line, and only one of them has their shape fully visible in the work. This one was the most challenging for me since I have to compress and distribute the leafs across a much smaller area compared to the work in ‘Sound of Cicada’ and yet still retaining the mood of the print well.


Where does it come from? Where does it lead to?

The branch print was slightly bigger than the line template, so choosing the frame for this one was not that hard. I decided to cut off the bottom of the curve to give the painting more uncertainty and open for thought as to where the lines may lead to outside of what we see, as per the feeling of apprehension itself.



Aaaaand it’s done!

And here are my final 6 lines for Project 1: My Line is Emo. Thank you for reading my post! 😀








Author: Hilary

everything looks better with night mode

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