Monday, March 30, 2009

Working through it

There's been alot of things going on in Spider Ink land and it's been tough to squeeze everything I want and need to do in between everything I have to do. Sometimes when the schedule gets crazy like this I have to find a way to carve time out when I can just create in the studio and shut everything else out for a while. The problem is that my muse doesn't always show up on schedule and the creative juices that were flowing freely one day might not be there the next when I've got the time to do my artwork. So what's an artist to do? Well, as a good friend advised me, you've got to just work through it.

My way of working through my creative slumps is to take a huge sheet of paper and do a large charcoal drawing or sketch. Standing at an easel in front of a 3 foot piece of paper helps loosen my arm and I use my whole upper body to move and create the marks on the page. It gives me an uninhibited freedom to get the ideas flowing again. And the charcoal never ceases to make beautiful and interesting marks. It works like magic on me, I feel transformed and back in the "groove" again.

The reclining sheep above was one such drawing. I have since used this drawing to make a soft ground etching which I will post later once I have the print finished. I'm planning to make it a 2-plate print and I'm very excited about how this is turning out so far. In my future related post I plan to discuss my process in creating the 2-plate print using soft-ground and spit-bite.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Pronto plates and Z-Acryl

A friend of mine, fellow painter and printmaker, Kevin Kall, sent this link to me and I thought I'd share. There is a wonderful video demonstration by Mirka H showing printing process with a Z-Acryl plate. I just wish there was a closeup image of the final prints made. I am curious about this process since it allows one to make lithographic prints on an etching press and with a lot less complexity in preparing the plate then with traditional lithography. I haven't tried this myself but I'd be interested if anyone who has would like to leave a comment and/or more links related to this process.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Etching techniques that I like: Part III (or yet another use for the litho crayon)

For this Hudson River landscape, I used a technique that Bruce Waldman (check out Amie Roman's great post on Bruce over at Burnishings) showed me that involves drawing with a litho crayon directly onto the plate (without a ground coating). The plate is then open bit and the image comes through the texture of the crayon's marks.

As I've said before, I love the freedom and freshness of the mark that comes from using a litho crayon. It is conducive to creating bold and loosely drawn images that have been traditionally uncharactistic of etching printmaking. I find it especially useful when drawing landscapes where the subjects don't require too much detail and can benefit from the "life" of the line.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Etching techniques that I like-Part II

I don't believe that I've discussed soft-ground techniques before, but it's fast becoming one of my favorite ways to etch a plate. I've spoken about the use of litho crayons in etching in a previous post as well as my penchant for sketching and I'd like to expound further on how useful I find litho crayons (and pencils) to be on a soft-ground plate. The above etching was created that way. Though it's rough and I will be working further on this plate and will add color, I like the way the freshness of the line and the immediacy of sketchwork is evident. And using a zinc plate can make a "dirtier" print than a copper plate which also adds to the feeling of a rough sketch.

The way I created the plate is that I drew the image on vellum while it was on a zinc plate so that the litho crayon's marks would be seen in the exposed parts of the plate when etched. I love the freedom of line and the variety of tone that the litho crayon yields when drawing with it. It allows me to "sketch" on a plate more expressively than when I use other tools for that purpose. I also find that if I decide to aquatint the plate in the next stage and fill in subjects with tones, the outlines disappear and the effect is more seamless looking.

I'd love to hear from people who use tools in the etching process that were designed for another purpose entirely. I am such a fan of experimenting with different acid resists and ways to manipulate the process to yield results that are unusual for etching prints. I'm experimenting right now with sharpies as an acid resist and I hope to post more about that soon.