Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Print making day 2 dry point and etching

A Sudden Shower 1   dry point 10.5x5.5cm   ©2015Lisa Le Quelenec

Toward the end of the previous session we had tried a little dry point as a test piece to get a feel for the technique. Using a small off cut of aluminum we scratched in a design using an etching needle. I know that I have used this process before back in my college days but being twenty years ago now I can barely remember it. I hadn't scratched in hard enough to get a deep enough burr to hold the ink so my first pass through the press was too feint.

A Sudden Shower 2   dry point 10.5x5.5cm   ©2015Lisa Le Quelenec

After going over some of the lines and inking up again I was much more encouraged by the results. Now I just needed to concentrate on the inking up which is I think, the real 'art' of print making; knowing just how much to take off the plate I have found difficult to get the hang of. I think this is something that will come after many, many failed prints.

So a new day and a new set of adventures began. Trying to remember all that I had learnt about the above technique I started a new plate. This is the best print of the course for me. Luck was on my side and some magic happened...

On the Dunes   dry point 10x18.5cm ©2015Lisa Le Quelenec

I used the etching needle to scratch in and cross hatch the fence posts, then carefully drew in the lines of the wire fence and grasses. When I inked up the plate I used a sepia ink only inking on the burr and I didn't apply any to the sky area or the sand on the right. I spent time buffing off the excess and burnishing the foreground grasses. At the last minute I had an 'I wonder what would happen if?...' moment and I used a piece of used black inky scrim and very gently wiped over the areas that had no ink at all on them. (My initial intention had been to leave these areas completely pristine and white.)

Using pre-soaked paper I ran it through the press and was excited to see the result. I like the tonal range of the image. The black inky scrim has given it a very subtle smokiness which I think gives it a nice atmosphere. There wasn't time for me to do a second pass in comparison without the grey so I will have to return to it another time. I think if I had left it completely white the image would have looked to hard and graphic. There are, of course, a lot of things that can be improved on with the drawing and inking of the plate and my edges aren't terribly neat but I felt satisfied that I had made a good start.

The plate 7.5x8cm ©2015Lisa Le Quelenec
On to etching with acid... using a small piece of zinc that had been coated in hard ground I gently scratched in with an etching needle. My shell design was so gently drawn in as to only have taken off the ground rather than denting the plate. I wondered if this would be enough for the acid to bite into. It went into an nitrate acid bath (ratio 1/10) for 25 minutes and was washed and prepared for inking. Again I used sepia ink but the burr in the plate was so subtle that I really didn't have high hopes for getting a decent impression. This is the plate before I had cleaned the ink off so you can see the ink in the lines. If you run your nail over the plate you can barely feel the indentation. I really like the plate as an object in itself - nice shiny zinc with the delicate inked lines  - I am tempted to frame it ;o)

Scallop A/P 1   etching ©2015Lisa Le Quelenec

The first proof taken from the plate. I was pleasantly surprised at how much detail had come out. I had obviously underestimated just how much pressure the plate is put under in the press.

Scallop A/P 2   etching ©2015Lisa Le Quelenec

As an experiment without inking the plate again I ran it through the plate a second time. Not so strong an image but I quite like the faded subtlety of it.

So after busy day two I had much to think about. I really enjoyed the etching process but baths of acid etc aren't going to be very practical for me to replicate at home. Dry point is maybe similar enough for me and very much appeals to my love of drawing. This was something for me to research before the next session.


Jeanette Jobson said...

These are lovely Lisa. Etchings are one of my favourite art forms.

Have you tried drypoint etching? No acid involved but the same effect. I use acrylic/perspex sheets that you can buy in all sorts of sizes and they work well. I even tested some acrylic cd protectors as that worked too.

I made my own "press" using a bottlejack that works a treat at a fraction of the cost of a regular printing press.

Bruce Sherman said...

Good morning Lisa!... The joy that you are feeling in this exciting new adventure in printmaking is obvious in the prints that you have already produced.

Experimentation is so essential in keeping alive the creative spirit and exercising it throughout one's journey.

I am particularly taken by the composition... simple though it might seem of the fence line disappearing over the ridge. It has that oriental quality: saying more... with less!

Have fun! I look forward to seeing further joy!

Good Painting!... Hoppy Easter!

Warmest regards,

RH Carpenter said...

Part of the fun of printmaking is not knowing! But you've come up with some really nice things and I love the dunes and your intuitive work on it that made it a better print! These techniques are ones I've never tried but sounds like you are having a good time with them all, whether they can follow you home to your studio or not.

Lisa Le Quelenec said...

Hi Jeanette, I've been experimenting with perspex, I'll show then in the next post. In some ways I was hard pushed to tell the difference between those and acid etched prints when I looked at different artists work. I think it would only be obvious when you came to do a large edition as the burr must wear down quicker with perspex.

I had forgotten about the CD protector ones that you did, thank you for the reminder, I will go back and reread.

-Thank you about the prints :o)

Hi Bruce, you have hit the nail on the head. I was thinking of some japanese brush paintings I had been looking at when I was sketching ideas for the fence print. I am hoping to do a small series of these at a later date experimenting with the inking up on them. Minimal compositions appeal to me as they present such a big challenge.

Lots more joy to come I have loved this course so much!

Hi Rhonda, experimenting with completely new techniques really makes for steep learning curves doesn't it?

Thank you about the prints. I wish someone had invented a teleporter to quickly transport you over here to join us on the course. I think you would really enjoy it too.

Dana Kadić said...

Beautiful paintings, and the sea shels. I love all the caracteristics that remind me of sea. apartments

Lisa Le Quelenec said...

Thank you Dana and welcome.