I painted this little sketch from Friday night this afternoon, and finally made use of the goose-neck phone holder to record a time-lapse of it.
Here is a scan of an initial proof of my line-etching of the witch-boy. This is the result of scratching my drawing into a waxy coating over the copper plate, called a hard ground. After coating the plate, you can transfer your (reversed) image onto the surface to guide you as you make your lines into the coating with a scribe tool..
Once you’ve finished, the plate is ready to go into the ferric-chloride acid bath. The places where you’ve scribed into the hard ground coating will be eaten away by the acid, thereby “etching” the lines into the 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.
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:
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.)
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!
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! 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.
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!
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.
*ever the optimist!
Step one: Draw your shapes in pencil.
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.
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!”)
I’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.This 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!
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.