Wednesday, February 3, 2010

On Picasso's etchings

Next week I'm going to upload my latest video meditation, which will talk about an etching by Picasso called 'Blind Minotaur Being Led by a Girl'. This is one of the works that led me into printmaking. The drawing is so beautiful, so free and yet tenderly careful at the same time. And those deep, velvety black tones were something I wanted to try and make too.


I later learned the way that Picasso created this print. He first aquatinted the whole plate, which involves dissolving rosin dust over the whole plate to create a pattern of thousands of dots. When the plate is placed in the etchant, the etching acid eats around the dots. When you clean the plate and then ink it, the combination of ink in all those tiny etched holes gives the appearance of a dense dark black tone. Picasso then scraped back into that black background to create the grey and bright white lines that define the broad shapes. He then did a little bit of line etching here and there, and finally used a drypoint needle to scratch directly onto the plate. The dark details of the faces are where you can see the drypoint marks most clearly. All of these techniques combine to produce an image with a variety of beautiful marks. The series of James Joyce etchings that I made (see an earlier blog entry) were heavily influenced by this one print.

Look out for the next Meditation.

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