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Showing posts from February, 2019

A New Etching

This is the first etching I have completed in 2019. I started out by looking at one of the large oil paintings I've been making, and adapting it to this different medium:
First stage of the etching: lightly sketching in the reclining figure using drypoint, then painting some spitbite aquatint in the upper part:
On this proof, I wrote the timings for the four rounds of spitbite on the right-hand edge. I make an aquatint by spraying an acrylic mixture through an airbrush, then heat drying the plate for 20 minutes.

Second stage: more spitbite, which turned out to be too much and resulted in a flat foul bite (burning out the tones to leave an area which doesn't hold enough ink).

Third stage: so I scraped the spitbite area heavily, and drew more drypoint and burin marks, to introduce different textures to the image:
Fourth stage: I step-etched the remaining white areas of the plate, then repeated the process of scraping and burnishing to produce further subtle variations of tone, …

Etching by Kara Walker

The African-American artist Kara Walker has an unmistakable signature style: creating vast figure compositions using a cutout-silhouette technique. She uses this to create all kinds of images that teem with references to the evil history of racism in America. On a technical level, you're always seeing bold contrasts of forms framed by white space. Walker has tried this out in many media (paintings, drawings, shadow puppet shows, books), including etching. And here is a photo I took of a big etching of hers that I saw in the Tucson Museum of Art a few months ago:
I had to take the photo at an angle to avoid the reflections on the glass. The subject matter is a little more mythical and less easy to interpret than much of her work. Perhaps it represents a group of black people pulling a goddess-like figure with African features out of the ocean, in recognition of their pre-slavery ancestry. from the pint of view of a printmaker, one can see how well the aquatint technique is suited …

David Krut Projects' Newest Kentridge Kollaboration

David Krut Workshop in Johannesburg, South Africa, is the printmaking workshop that has a long-standing relationship with artist William Kentridge. I have juts discovered a great blog post from the workshop, talking about the latest relief printmaking project that they have been working on together for the last few years. It's a giant woodcut print (plus a little bit of linocut), assembled from smaller multi-shaped blocks.
The post has a lot of great photos, and is full of microscopic technical detail about the painstaking process of putting together such a large project. Link here. And here is an even longer blog post about the making of an earlier print in the series.

Re-Organizing My Printmaking Studio

A while ago, I undertook a task that I had been meaning to do for ages: organizing my etching studio to be more efficient. Previously, I haven't had enough surfaces in one area to be able to perform all the necessary tasks (plate preparation, etching, cleaning, inking, printing) without having trays spread out all round my studio.

The first thing I did was to buy a new set of shelves. From top to bottom, this now has:
My DIY hot box, and my DIY aquatint spray booth.The stripping bath (soda ash & hot water, and the airbrush & compressor.The brightener bath (vinegar & salt), the ferric tank, and a water tray.Tray storage area, and the filter bucket for the spray booth. Below the printing press, I finally have some blotter boards for flattening and drying prints:

The narrow work table has a fresh coat of paint, a new shelf above it, and is now free to hold the paper soaking tray:
The large work table has a thick sheet of glass, for adding and removing resists, inking plat…

Liz Chalfin Introduces William Kentridge to Non-Toxic Printmaking

I have been making prints for more than 20 years, and in the last 6 or 7 years I have practised non-toxic techniques to replace the practices and materials of the traditional etching studio, most of which were/are highly toxic (and capable of causing significant damage to the brain, skin, internal organs, and central nervous system).

One of the most valuable resources around for nontoxic printmaking is the website of the Zea Mays studio in Massachusetts. They have a research program for testing non-toxic processes, which they publish on their website. Each section contains the results of their methodical experiments, often containing as much as 20 separate and highly documented steps.

One of my many inspirations for etching is the South African artist William Kentridge, who has a lifelong and continued association with printmaking. To my delight, I just found out that Liz Chalfin, from the Zea Mays studio, has been working with Kentridge recently to introduce him to one of the newest…