Thursday, January 19, 2017

Palate Cleanser

When dining at a fine restaurant, a neutral flavored food is often served between courses to clear the palate from one flavor to another. I view print exchanges in a similar way. After working on an involved long drawn out project it's a nice change of pace to do something on a small scale, to keep the studio momentum going, without becoming overly involved time wise.

When I came across the announcement for the Wingtip Press "Leftovers VII" Print Exchange, I knew it would be a fun change of pace.

The premise of  the "Leftovers" exchange is to put to good use some of those many bits and pieces that one always has lying around the studio.

In addition, the exchange benefits a good cause; one of each print submitted will be auctioned off  to benefit a hunger relief task force.

I always have small scraps of Solarplates tucked away, as well as odd sizes of paper. Just what is needed to turn out a small edition of tiny prints.

It didn't take long to have the edition printed.

This morning I dug out my watercolors and added a bit of hand-coloring. All that's left to do is fill out the paperwork and pop these in the mail.

There's still time to submit if you're interested in participating.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Finally finished.

Gifts - Photopolymer intaglio collage monoprint.

Finally! After a day in the studio, I'm ready to call this piece finished. Hand-stitching secured a few grass twigs to the nest print and a few well placed stitches anchored the crocheted nest in place.

My intention was to juxtapose an image of Nature's handiwork with a hand-made attempt at reproduction. No matter how clever one is with their hands, you can't match the beauty of the natural world.

"Gifts" was created as a re-envisioning of an earlier print -  "Offering". Both will be part of a group show entitled Vision / Revision.

I wanted to make a strong reference to Offering, but rather than producing an edition, I decided to experiment with layering prints to create a monoprint collage. As the piece evolved, it was refreshing to play around with options and turned out to be a good way to work when there were so many starts, stops and interruptions.

Time to clean up the studio and start fresh for 2017.

Friday, January 13, 2017

New Year - Old Business

Like everyone else, I was swept up into the end of the year frenzy of family obligations and festivities. Time in the studio was scarce. With the new year well underway it's high time to finish a pending project so I can start anew.

The deadline for an upcoming group show at the Center for Contemporary Printmaking entitled Vision / Revision is fast approaching. Two prints will be shown side by side; one a re-envisioning of an earlier piece. Playing off of "Offering", a traditionally printed edition, I wanted my re-envisioned piece to be more experimental and decided to create a monoprint collage. 

"Offering" and re-envisioned monoprint under construction.

The new piece is composed of two separate images to be mounted as a single print. Both are photopolymer intaglios; one using Solarplate the other ImagOn film. Similar but distinct processes.

I struggled a bit with an image to compliment the nest image...

... and finally settled on this.

I'm in the process of cutting into and assembling various prints into one hopefully cohesive piece.

I also wanted to add dimensional elements so I experimented with crocheting a nest. After a couple of experiments I decided to go with the one made with finer thread.

I plan on stitching a few grass stalks onto the nest portion but I'm currently at a standstill trying to decide how much layering to do.

I'm not sure if I should include the printed arched cutout of netting or omit it.

I'm so close to finally resolving this that I need to step away before making my final decisions. I think I need to head to the beach for a change of scenery and hopefully come back with fresh eyes.

Sooner or later I'll be able to pull it all together.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Proofing, Proofing, Proofing

I finally managed to settle on a few sketches that have the potential to be an interesting print. Since my studio is usually pretty sunny and because I'm using ImagOn light sensitive photopolymer film, I waited until after dark to make the plates.

I photograph my drawings and size them in PhotoShop. A laser printer is used to print the images onto Mylar.  I  tweak the film positives by adding additional drawing with a Stablio pencil and a bit of high-lighting the details.

The plates are prepared by adhering the ImagOn to a plastic substrate. I had already determined the exposure times needed for this particular image so things moved along pretty quickly: expose the plate to an aquatint screen, expose the image, process the plate in a soda ash bath, and then dry with a heat gun.

The next morning the plates were ready to proof. I was happy with some of the results but others were quickly scrapped. An advantage of working with ImagOn is that I can reclaim the plastic substrate by removing the film in a soda ash bath, reapply film and create a new plate. This can be done fairly quickly so I can keep the momentum going.

My most recent proofs are exploring background color using a relief plate made from Sintra which is a rigid PVC plastic sheet.   (

As the image evolved, I made changes to the drawings, played around with the backgrounds, layers, color options and the possibility of adding a dimensional element; a crocheted "nest".  I'm still not sure where I'll end up but such is the creative journey and each proof brings me closer to a resolution.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

'Step Test' for ImagOn Film

It's been a busy summer but I finally had a couple of days back in the studio and was eager to begin work on a new project. After working out some ideas and sketches, it was time to create a test plate to determine the correct exposure for my image, which is on frosted Mylar. I'll be using ImagOn photo polymer film.

After adhering the ImagOn to a plastic plate, I exposed it to an aquatint screen for 45 light units. Next, I divided the plate into 8 segments and uncovered one section at a time as I exposed my film positive to 3 second increments ranging from 15 to 36 light units. I know this is hard to see in the photo but if you look closely you can just make out the image on the plate.

I ended up with a great test print and was able to determine the amount of exposure needed for this particular positive. An exposure between 30 and 33 light units appears to give me the best detail and clarity. Now I'm ready to go ahead and make the plate I'll use for the edition.

I know it seems tedious to spend time doing a step test plate, but if you want the best results it's a good practice to do this with each new image. It's equally important to keep notes as you go along so if you step away for awhile or need to make adjustments you have a record of your progress.

I probably won't get back to the studio for a couple of weeks but at least I have the satisfaction of having made a start and will be able to pick up where I left off.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Cracks & Crevices

I love proofing a new plate and this week I had the opportunity to continue
working on my rock series.

As I mentioned, I'm drawn to the spaces between rather than the rocks themselves and have begun referring to this series as "intimate spaces" because I can't help but see suggestions of human characteristics. 

This 12.5" X 15.5" plate printed beautifully and although I was really pleased with the black and white version, I wanted to experiment with adding a bit of color.

Color options 1 and 2 and a bleed print version.

Incorporating chine colle', it wasn't long before I had a few different versions and was hard-pressed to decide on which way to proceed. I may just make this a variable edition.

The version above seemed like a bit too much color so at the moment I'm leaning toward the version below. Once again, time to step away for awhile and look at it anew in a few days.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Continuing with rock series

I've had a week back in the studio so I've continued with my series based on the rock revetment at the beach.

I worked up a few studies and made some test plates.

These first proofs came out a bit odd. There's a lighter halo around the perimeter of both plates as if the center was exposed more than the edges. You can see from the proofs that the center of each print is darker than the edges. I'll definitely need to figure out what the problem is. The plates measure only 4"x4" and I'm thinking the edges bent slightly when I trimmed them in the paper cutter. This would mean the film positive wasn't in direct contact with the entire surface during the exposure.

I did manage to print a plate I had made earlier and was pleased with the results.

Here's the first proof: carbon black Akua intaglio ink on Arnham heavy weight paper.

I cut a few shapes out of a tissue paper to add a chine colle' accent to the image. I definitely want to add a spot of color but the only tissue I had was this pale pink. I've had paper on order from Graphic Chemical & Ink for a month now but I'm told it's still on back order. I may need to resort to hand-coloring an accent with watercolor. I'll live with this a bit before I make a final decision.

The print below has the pale pink tissue accent.
I continue to be fascinated with the cracks and crevasses among this collection of huge rocks. When singled out, the spaces between the granite forms become more interesting than the rocks themselves and take on an anatomical quality.