"The artist...is also a born adventurer. His explorations, unlike those of a tourist, are rewarded by the discovery of beauty spots unmentioned in the guide books, and with tireless curiosity and an exceptional proneness to wonderment, he will come upon objects of remarkable interest overlooked or even shunned by more disciplined observers."

Augustus John, R.A.

Friday, 2 January 2015

Intaglio Printing

Way back in mid summer I posted a couple of images of a proof of a Mezzotint that I had been working on. Since then things had gone a bit quite on this topic, not because I had given up on it and sold the plate off for scrap. But not having anything to print it on I had worked the plate as far as I could and then put it to one side. However, having treated myself this Christmas to a small Hawthorn etching press I've spent the last few days playing around with it.

As I haven't done any intaglio printing since I was at college (around 30 years ago), and I haven't had any experience of working on a mezzotint at all. I started off with a quick drypoint to get used to the press and to try and remember how to ink and wipe a plate (You Tube came in handy for this).

Bamburgh Castle from the breakwater at Seahouses.
152mm x 203mm

It took a bit of experimenting to get the pressure right and my inking technique was a bit rusty but after a while I got the hang of it so then I inked up the Mezzotint.

Now there is a lot that is not right with this, but as a first go at a technique that I had never done before I wasn't expecting to end up with a saleable print. It is however a better print than my first reduction linocut was. I have overworked a few areas on the wall and the hillside on the right. The pressure was a bit light and parts of the foreground are a bit vague with no definition. On the positive side the black areas are ok which means that I must have rocked the plate correctly in the first place - I wasn't sure that I had done that well enough and there is a feeling of depth to the print which I was trying to get. As a trial print I was satisfied with the outcome so I inked up a second plate that I had worked on.

This first proof came out much better than I expected. The pressure on the press again was too light and the plate needed more work on it so 5 more proofs later and I ended up with something like I had intended.

This is Spurn Point Lighthouse at the mouth of the Humber.

Just need to print the edition now.

Happy New Year.


Sherrie York said...

Oooh! Lovely! It's been thirty years since I've printed intaglio, too... but now that I have a press it's in the realm of possible. Would like to learn to make solar plates...

The subtleties of tone are so beautiful. Almost makes me want to give up block prints. But not quite. :-)

Happy New Year, Stuart! I hope this year brings you fantastic things.

Stuart Brocklehurst said...

Hi Sherrie, Happy New Year to you too.

It makes a nice to change to stretch myself a bit and learn something new. I won't be giving up on the linocuts but sometimes I can't get the effect I want with lino. Mezzotint allows me to explore atmosphere rather than pattern, or hopefully it will when I get better at it.

I have friends who do solar plates, who have tried to explain the process to me but I can't quite get my head around it yet. I'm showing my age a bit now but it's a process that wasn't around when I was at Art College.