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Showing posts from May, 2014

Experiments in acrylic resist etching, cont.

Continuing my experiments with different mixtures of acrylic-based resists, I'm getting some idea about which combinations of materials work best in order to print a good image, and to get a clean plate surface around the lines. All of the prints below were taken from re-used 6" x 4" copper plates. The inks are Akua intaglio inks.
The following plate had three layers of dried resists made from GAC 200 and  a few drops of black airbrush ink. The lines were drawn into the dried resist using an etching needle. The print looks remarkably like a hard ground etching, even though no mordant was involved. It's difficult to avoid air bubbles in the GAC 200, though, but I decided to let those stand as part of the texture of the print:


The next plate is the same mixture, the drawing was done with varying pressure of the etching needle, so that part of it looks like en etching, parts of it like a drypoint. Some of the resist dried in tiny ridges that picked up ink in the backgr…

Seeing an old work in someone's house

I was at a party on Saturday night when I was introduced to someone who I met once, maybe ten years ago. It turns out that this chap bought one of my prints on that occasion -- a fairly big linocut -- and this was the first time we had seen each other since then. He's a writer, and came back into our orbit through my writer-wife Patty. Still a hell of a coincidence, though, and a nice one.

This is a picture of the print hanging on the wall of his writing room:


It's at least 24" x 18", maybe slightly bigger, and it's based on the Ray Bradbury story "The Illustrated Man." It's a fantasy-type story that takes place in a circus, about a giant tattooed man who ultimately gets murdered (or commits a murder, I can't recall which) by one of the story-like tattoos on his body. My version has the illustrated man standing in a circus tent under a spotlight, with other freak-show members of the circus standing around him, and the love of his life turning a…

Two to Watch

Last Thursday I attended the MFA Photography degree show at Columbia College Chicago and saw work by two artists that was as good as most of what you would see in a commercial gallery or museum. I happen to have worked with these two students in the semester that just ended, one in a directed study program, one who took the Journal and Sketchbook course as an elective class. Most of the credit for their great work in the show comes from their major, and the teaching and guidance that they received in the Photography Department. But I was extremely proud to feel that I had contributed maybe five or ten percent to the final degree work.


David Rodriguez's piece, "Better Place" (above), distinguished itself from everything else in the show by containing the least physical amount of conventional photography. He constructed a table frame with welded rods emerging from it, which climbed up to a point that resembled a mountain-top. About five of the facets formed by the peak co…

Cleveland Dean: Burnt Cherry Blossoms

"Burnt Cherry Blossoms" was a one-day event at The Walton in Chicago, comprising a CD launch for musician Windimoto, and an art exhibition by Cleveland Dean. I know Cleveland a little, but this is the first time I've seen his work in the flesh, so to speak. Actually, 'in the flesh' is an appropriate phrase for his paintings, which are dense with thick, juicy textures of poured paint and varnishes, blistered and burnt from repeated applications of a heat gun, layered with collage elements which in turn might be subjected to pyromaniacal distress. When you get up close to the surface of these paintings, you can smell the charring.

There were two bodies of work: the darker pigmented, 'burned' paintings, and brightly-toned paintings of poured paint, which has dried into swirls and waves of greens, reds, and yellows. Cleveland says that he often exhibits sets of contrasting work like this, as he thinks his creative personality isn't confined to just one m…

Acrylic hard ground prints

I'm continuing my exploration of non-toxic printmaking, looking for ways to achieve the sorts of marks you get via traditional intaglio etching but without using the chemicals, acids, and so on. Below are two proofs of a print I made as follows:
Take an old steel plate, 5" x 7".
Coat it with three layers of an acrylic hard ground, consisting of 90% GAC 200 acrylic varnish and 10% black airbrush pigment. Wait for one layer to dry completely between coatings.
Scratch lines into the dried varnish using a drypoint needle and an etching needle. Some of the lines are very shallow, some of them are very deep.
Ink and wipe as for an intaglio plate. I used a red-black mixture of Akua inks.

The first proof looks like a hard-ground etching. Even the lightest lines held ink and printed well. For the second proof, I added a lot more deep lines, wiped it less, and it came out more like a drypoint. All in all, the experiment was a success.
There are a couple of things that I haven…

Revivals

A few posts ago, I mentioned that I had started going through dozens of copper and steel plates that I've taken out of storage. Some of them go back to when I first learned printmaking, in the late 1990s. I mistakenly stored some of them in bubble wrap, without ensuring there was a barrier between the bubbles and the plates. When I cleaned off the protective layers of vaseline from these copper plates, I discovered dark, round shapes all over the surface, seemingly from the bubbles in the bubble wrap. I took a fresh proof print from a plate, fearing that the pattern would show up, and thus probably imply that the plate was now unusable. But thankfully, it didn't: the bubbles are purely at the level of plate tone, so it printed like this:

The plate is from 1997, in a series of etchings and aquatints inspired by the Nighttown/Circe chapter of Joyce's Ulysses. I haven't taken a print from the plate in over ten years, so it was particularly pleasing to see how well it pri…

I Shipped my Ship

I am in a group show at the Hyde Park Art Center starting next week. It's part of a new program of experimental, month-long exhibitions at this venerable Chicago art institution, on the south side quite close to the University of Chicago. Artist and curator Kathryn Fimreite has put together a show called The Pram Endeavor, for which she invited artists to make a small boat that will act as a metaphor for carrying an experience or a memory.Until now I had never heard the word 'pram' to mean 'boat', but a quick trip to the dictionary shows that it's a medieval English word meaning a flat bottomed boat with a squared-off bow. You learn something new all the time.
I finished my piece today and delivered it to Kathryn's studio. My contribution is called "Funeral Barque for My Grandfather.":

The boat/pram is a piece of heavyweight printmaking paper on which I printed a selection of the images I have been using for my film and works on panel during the …