Monday, January 10, 2011

copper braid

I'm not far from San Francisco and when a colleague mentioned that Crown Point Press was having a weekend etching workshop I jumped at the chance. One of the premier fine art printing/publishing studios of mostly conceptual/visual artists' work in prints, it meant having access to their amazing studio and help from two master printers.

Since I've been having lots of trouble with my blue press--I need some help with the hands-on part--how to ink and wipe a plate, registration, multiple plate registration, etc. SO I drove up and spent two days and it was exhausting but loads of fun. It's an impressive set up; with separate rooms for acquatint, and acid etching, great lighting, OSHA regulation ventilation and safety features and all the tools and techniques available to help you produce whatever you'd like.

Soft ground, hard ground, spit bite, aquatint, flat bite, chine colle', drypoint, engraving, sugar lift, etc. etc.
Too much for just two days.

I decided to work loosely from my previous figure drawing hoping to be able to play with technique rather than fret about image and detail. I loosely traced my image outlines hoping to work on the braid in line and color as the main subject.

The initial line drawing was reproduced with soft-ground etching giving me nice, hand-drawn quality lines to the contours and basic braid and hair shapes.

Then I blocked out the figure and did a simple aquatint of the background shapes to set them back by making them flat and darker.

Next, I went back in a reblocked the figure and step-etched using aquatint the hair several times to get different tones, once blocking out with a sharpie before going back in the acid bath.

The second one was printed using a burnt umber/black mix; both on white Somerset paper using Charbonel inks.

I'm mostly happy with how it came out. I was hoping for something a bit looser and I wanted the subject really to be the braid. The drawing is a bit off/not quite naive or accurate enough but I like the way the hair came out. I'll probably still go back in with my drypoint needle and add some more wispy hairs but it's mostly done.


  1. Looking good! half way between Durer and Wyeth.

  2. Thanks D. But I'm not in their league for sure. Both were really great draftsmen and I'm not.

    I secretly wish I could have come up with anything as wonderful as the Helga series of watercolors and I've seen some really good impressions of Durer's at an rare print gallery and the drypoints are amazing.

    I might be on par with the BACK of the paper though.

  3. Elements of them, the feel you know, a combo of the observation and the intimacy.