Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Sugarlift Transformed

This print reflects the first state of a sugarlift plate that I did of the Hudson Palisades (for color version of final print see previous post, Hudson Line). I added aquatint and drypoint lines to the etched sugarlift plate before printing because I was too impatient to print the sugarlift alone knowing that I would take it further with aquatint.

I really like the painterly quality of the line that sugarlift yields. I admit that I have not used this technique extensively but I wish to do more. It seems fresher and more immediate than some of the more deliberate drawings that I have done on hard ground with a pin tool.
The second state of the plate still shows some of the sugarlift lines which I had wanted to keep visible but the trees and shrubbery surrounding the Palisades cliffs needed more depth as did the cliffs themselves. The plate for this print was overwiped in some areas but I knew that it was a trial proof and I was going to change the plate again so I didn't make another (better) print in this state.

This shows the third and final state of the plate. Unfortunately, the sugarlift lines are now barely visible but the additional aquatinted shadows add depth and more atmosphere to the print.

Even though the final print has pretty much hidden the original sugarlift lines, I am still a pretty big fan of sugarlift work and hope to post more in the future that retain the original painterly lines that are characteristic of sugarlift prints.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Etching techniques that I like - PART I

I've found that I love most printmaking techniques that I know but up until recently I felt more drawn to linocut and woodcut printmaking. It may be because I am a graphic designer and these techniques yield a more graphic image than etching and monoprint does. Or it may be the therapeutic way I can "zen out" when I am carving a plate.

Recently, though, I have been doing alot more drawing/sketching by working with line as a reflection of what I am seeing. Since etching lends itself to linework more expressively, I have been doing that almost exclusively and I discovered techniques that yield a unique quality to the print that I had been previously unaware of.

[*Alert* - I'm about to get very technical here so I hope this isn't boring]
The print above was created by first open-biting the plate which creates a bubbled texture on the surface of the plate. I used a litho crayon to draw the image directly onto the plate, without ground, and then open-bit it in acid. Then I created the second state of the plate by adding shadows and midtones with aquatint. The grainy and gradated value of the tones was achieved by a combination of the textured plate from the first state and by using a litho crayon as a block out for the acid during the aquatint biting process.

I like working this way and I plan to create more aquatints with this technique. But since I haven't done a woodcut in a while, I'm itching to go back to that as well. I've got a 3 wood plates just waiting for me to cut into at the studio. Maybe I'll do a 3-plate print since they are all the same size. Eh, we'll see what the muse has in store for me...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Motion and Energy

One of my challenges as an artist is trying to depict the energy that comes from a subject in motion. Releasing my line to flow with fluidity and abandon is difficult for me at best. It's such an alluring trap to tighten up as I draw and there is always the danger that by doing so I can suck the life right out of my drawing. But if I manage to stay loose and let my lines be expressive, I can sometimes relay the energy and movement that I see in my subject. Sketching regularly helps.

I envy people who can draw with fluid and energetic (and sometimes seemingly erratic) lines while maintaining the integrity of the subject's essence and likeness. I marvel at artists like Henrich Kley who use such an expressive line and depict motion with ink line drawings. His compositions are fascinating and sometimes disturbing but there is no mistake about his imaginative, strongly individual style and vitality that he brings to his drawings both loosely drawn or tightly rendered.

Another amazing talent, my friend and mentor, Bruce Waldman, has taken monoprint drawing to a level all his own. He is an amazing etcher as well and has work in many public and private collections including the Metropolitan Museum in New York City. I aspire to draw with as edgy a line style and as beautifully as he does.

Yeah, I'm working on it...

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Hudson Line

The printmaking studio that I use is in New York City and I have to commute to get there using the Metro North train - Hudson Line. The ride is spectacular as the tracks stretch along the eastern bank of the Hudson River. Across the river are the Palisades, cliffs that jut out from the tree-filled hills that rise above the river. I've always loved the view of the Palisades cliffs and as I passed them while on the train, I would sketch them, trying to capture their magestic beauty as well as the quirky way they they thrust out from the the trees that surround them. I decided to use one of my sketches as a starting point for a sugarlift etching with aquatint. This was my first landscape etching and I was pretty pleased with it. It isn't accurate but I think it is recognizable.

Please let me know if you have any questions about the sugarlift etching technique. I love it because it allows you to use a painterly, flowing line in your etching, a quality that is difficult to achieve otherwise. The aquatint for this partcular etching has obscured the original sugarlift line and this print reflects the third state of the plate, but I hope to post some simpler versions of sugarlift in the future.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Books I want to have

As I mentioned in a previous post, Danny Gregory has come out with a book that I can't wait to get, An Illustrated Life, which includes sketch images from artists of all stripes and should be inspirational in addition to a feast for the eyes.

I have also come across a new book that looks very interesting, Exhibition 36: Mixed-Media Demonstrations + Explorations. A first book by Susan Tuttle, an artist living in Maine. She has come up with a very creative way to market her book and create buzz on the internet. Ms. Tuttle has launched a contest whereby bloggers who visit her site can have a chance to win a copy of her new book if they mention the book and contest on their blogs. And though that is an incentive for me to post about the book here, I am very interested in seeing what looks to be a beautiful book and another source of inspiration to draw from.