Tuesday, August 16, 2016

How I Create My Prints

I often find inspiration from a traditional or historic account of the raven and crow.  On my laptop is an ever-growing file of raven images and ideas. I start with my title first. Having a title helps me with the image and it sets a mood of the piece. Humor is often important but I also select titles that force the viewer to think more about the imagery.
first drawing version
final print version "Waiting For The Tooth Fairy" Etching 2016

Next I look through references to find the right pose or gesture for the crow or raven. Then I spend hours doing preliminary sketches, followed by a series of drawings using pencil, traditional gouache (opaque watercolor), ink and charcoal.
My next step involves using digital technology. I scan the drawings and rework them with Photoshop. This digital tool allows me to adjust the value of the drawing and I can even move and reorganize the image. I use filters if needed. Next I print the drawing from my computer and continue to draw with the traditional tools. I repeat this process several times so the traditional and new technologies merge seamlessly. By the time I have finished I have altered my drawing at least a dozen times and because of this constant change I have no original drawing, only the image that has been scanned into the computer.

from lostartstudent.com tutorial on acid bath etching
In the past an etching involved coating the plate with a petroleum bases sealer then emerging the plate into vat of acid, cleaning with solvents, re-coating, and more acid baths. The process was extremely hazardous to the artist as well as the environment. In 2009 I began working with newly perfected and safe photopolymer etching plates. These are UV light sensitive printing plates, which are exposed in sunlight and processed in tap water!!
no more acids, plate is developed in water
first proof from a new plate
In the past I would has spent 20-40 hours creating the printing plate. Now I use that time to do my finished drawing. I use my computer and printer to transfer my drawing onto a transparent sheet of plastic. This serves as my negative for the exposure to the sun! I use the photopolymer process to transfer the original drawing to a printing plate from which I can hand print an edition. Finally, I write a narrative. This usually takes me the most time of all!

Here is a fun video on printing an etching, this Tom Lucas makes it look easy.

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