Second week in the printmaking studio

drawing worked into hard ground on a copper plate

Here is a picture I took with my phone after working the drawing in the hard ground, then immersing the plate for three ‘bites’ in the acid. This plate will serve as my re-entry to the world and techniques of etching, since it’s been over 7 years since I took my first class, so I didn’t spend a ton of time on it

The way this process works:
1. Coat copper with ‘hard ground’ which is basically a sort of wax
2. Draw into the hard ground, exposing the copper
3. Immerse the plate (carefully, wearing gloves) into a bath of ferric-chloride solution. The longer it is in, the deeper and the acid ‘etches’ your lines into the copper, so they hold more ink.

It’s very similar to the photographic process in that way. So if you want some lines to stay very thin, you do a ‘first bite,’ then mask off some areas. Immerse for a second bite, etc.

This means that even though I used the same scribing tool on the whole plate, the result is three different line weights in the image, which will be more apparent when I do my test print.

Below is a sort of preview that I did just by inversing and using photoshop to fake it, but as this can’t show the depth of the lines, it’s not a true preview of a print.
Same image reversed and inverted in photoshop as a rough preview

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Soon there will be snow in the air and the grey will set in

cleaned-up ink version of house drawing

Here is the cleaned-up inked version of the house. Next is time to trace it and then transfer the revered version of this to the plate, below:

pencil tracing of the house drawing
Here is the tracing paper after transferring the image. As you can see, I replaced the original trees. I used a white charcoal pencil on the tracing paper to show up on the dark surface of the ‘wax’ ground into witch I’ll scratch the drawing. (I’m hoping the pre-made transfer paper I ordered will leave crisper lines, as this is fuzzy.)
the copper plate, with image transferred
After finishing the transfer to copper, I realized that I left all of my etching tools at the studio! So, I guess I’ll be working on that portion at class. I’ll try to take some decent photos of the line work in progress. You’ll see how impossibly fine the lines can be compared to pen or pencil. Stay tuned!

Paper-dry leaves crunch beneath our feet, and the wind is picking up

pencil sketch of a house in a bell jr

Tuesday I went to my first class in over 7 years— returning to the art of copperplate etching (intaglio). I’ve a small plate ready to work on before my next class on Tuesday. This is the wee sketch I did for it today.

It needs finessing, and then I’ll transfer it in reverse to my plate. I may change those trees to pines, and add some snow. We’ll see. I want to keep it fairly simple, but use this to re-familiarize with the studio and processes after such a long hiatus. Gotta wake up the muscle memory.

After I’ve got into a bit of a groove, I’ll embark on something more complex. I really want to design images with the various techniques in my mind from the start. Work to the medium’s strengths, not just mimic ink drawings or some such. More to come here as I progress!

Summer hid a whetstone in the slender paths between cornstalks

Seneca, the paint quarterhorse
My brother and Seneca in the ring while I was up at the Farm in July.


Summer
! It’s been too hot. It’s rained a lot. It’s been busy with work, and (half Fridays notwithstanding) I’ve still not gone on a date with the Atlantic Ocean. Haven’t cycled as much as I’d like.

But it’s been good, after its own fashion; taking its own shape. Clarity and focus with my work has (mostly) made up for my extreme lack of drawing and writing. Solid, meaningful visits to and from family and friends have shored up scattered edges.

What it all has in common: that fleeting quality that I will ever associate with Summer. Happily, the meaning lasts, even if the sunshine doesn’t.

And life without meaning is little more than a series of actions or motions.

drawing of a wall needing art, w measurements
My mathy diagram of K’s wall, before we hung all the art!

Just over a week ago there was an unprecedented electrical storm —very local to my apartment. To the extent that my building was hit and I lost a few small appliances; modem, router, speaker, and the aquarium pump. What a nuisance. Amazon: order replacements. Brazenly, decadently easy to deal with such a blow in these times. Nearly everything was back to rights by the weekend.

The electrical storm seems to’ve been a metaphor for things at large. I wasn’t even upset at having to drop over $200 at the damage that ensued; indeed, it felt like a doorway. An entrance stone had opened, to quote Murakami. I took it as a sign. Old things, old equipment, can be let go of easily with the help of a catalyst. Particularly when it suits the story.

Just last year, my printer died, apropos of nothing. I was irritated, irate at first, but at length it dawned on me that the thing was 11 years old. Then I felt grateful it had endured so long. (Few have such a resumé these days.) I practically well-wished it as I left it on the doorstep of the electronics recycling center a month later. A solemn good-bye, with a wink: So long and thanks for all the fish!

I digress.

drawing of electrical wires
A drawing of the occasional above-ground wires of New York City

This summer has been the most disruptive I’ve had in a long time, and probably—definitely— overdue. I’m good with it, have found a way to be settled with it, despite not having had my sand and salt respites at the edge of the world; despite not having spent (yet*) enough time with friends in our erstwhile carefree summer ways. It’s a new chapter, demanding of change.

At Springtide I sensed it, (sortof) accepted it— was fine to wait for Summer. But it’s different now, and it’s on account of so many factors I cannot list or name them all.

I’m still absorbing, but for the first time in a long time I’m not afraid of Autumn. I’ve even taken to listening to the Shipping Forecast as a soothing interlude, a doorway to focus, or just to sleep— a horoscope of rain and barometrics, always rising more slowly.

Photo of the pagoda in Patterson Park, Baltimore
The pagoda at Patterson Park in Baltimore, when I visited K

*ever the optimist!

A recipe for crisp-edged watercolors

photo of desktop showing drawings, paint, and paintingsLast week I posted some gentle little watercolors, and briefly described the process. Here, as promised, is a more detailed view of that process.

Step one: Draw your shapes in pencil.
step one: pencil drawing
Step two: scan the drawings, and import to Adobe Illustrator. Trace the shapes using the pen tool, refining as you go, to create your idealized vector shapes.

step two: scan and trace the pencil shapes in Illustrator

Continue reading “A recipe for crisp-edged watercolors”

Cheerful, cooled, and brittlebush

paint chipsIt’s time for some updating and new colors. I’ve been thinking about some new colors for awhile, and went to browse the chips this afternoon.

quick drawing incorporating the colorsWhen I got home, I checked them all out in the rooms and against the light and existing paint, then gave them a quick run-through in Photoshop, as I can’t resist that sort of thing.

Two shades of yellow for the kitchen; a rustic sort of dark Naples yellow for the walls, with pops of a true, bright yellow (this tint named “Cheerful!”)

before and after kitchen colorI’ve rather always regretted how very subtle my choice was for the kitchen— looks barely a color in that West-facing room. Time to make right.before and after kitchen accent colorbefore and after kitchen colorsThis exuberant yellow will appear in two pops, on walls directly opposite one another— in the recessed shelves and on the double pantry doors. Can’t wait to see it up!before and after bathroom color
And in the teeny, tiny bathroom (which has done really well in a nearly-black brown color for 7 years now) shall be updated with a color pulled from a couple of the tchotchkes in there, eg. the bath salts tin— a sort of burnished aqua tone.

I’m hoping that it will make the awful dusty-rose tiles appear more neutral, and disappear in its high-key presence. Distraction is often a key component— a designer’s sleight-of-hand.

Circling back to that red oak tree on the farm, amid snowfall

Beyond the Red Oak v6 from Elizabeth Daggar on Vimeo.

I haven’t had time the past two weeks to get much farther with this, but I’m hoping to get back to it on the weekend. Here’s where I left off in my motion tests and atmospheric meanderings.

Focal lengths and depth of field on pencil drawings

pencil snowscape with oak tree

Here are a couple stills from a scene into which I’m working that oak tree drawing and the landscape I’ve been working on. I’m still getting the hang of working with cameras, and messing about with focal lengths and such, to get the depth of field. It’s slow going, but enjoyable.

pencil snowscape with oak tree and fence

A small woods, cloaked in the lonesome air of winter

A Snow Story [in progress] from Elizabeth Daggar on Vimeo.

Here are the bare beginnings. (And more Ravel, as it happens.) For context, see this post and this post.

This winter has conspired to plant seeds for a story

pencil drawing of a forest

I’ve embarked on a project that has decided it wants to be something much larger than I’d planned, which is awfully exciting (to me). What began yesterday as just a few drawings of trees and birds to layer into another snowscape has planted the seeds of a short film, a proper story. The spark has been lighted and no going back!

These are two stills from the scene I worked on today using yesterday’s drawings. I’ll share a sneak peek at some motion soon.

pencil drawing of a forest