Wednesday, October 29, 2014


OK, so I couldn't wait until tomorrow.

By late afternoon the plate was obviously dry and I was anxious to see the results. The first proof printed very dark. (Boy does this particular plate and image hold ink!)  I have a tendency to under-wipe the plate when I print the first proof because Akua inks wipe so much easier than traditional oil intaglio inks. I need to familiarize myself with the idiosyncrasies of each new plate before I get a feel for what it can take in the way of inking and wiping.

This Solarplate is printed on dry Hahnemhule Copperplate using Akua Carbon Black intaglio ink and is part of my "Springer" series. Since I often find myself on the receiving end of a sand barrage when I'm sitting on the beach with the dogs, my intention was to graphically capture the action rather than focus on the details. (Besides, with the sand flying in your face you can't see the details.)

Now, to step away from the image and see it with fresh eyes in the morning.

Another "Springer" piece

Finally finished the film positive of another image in my "Springer" series; a combination of a photograph and drawing that was manipulated in Photoshop and then printed out on drafting Mylar at a local print shop.

The last time I used their services, I found that the blacks weren't dark enough because their large format printer is used for line work and not images. To compensate, I had them print two copies which I went back into with some additional handwork. I carefully lined up the two images and taped them together. In the proofs, the blacks printed much darker so hopefully I'll be happy with the final plate.

The image will measure approximately 20"x14", which is fairly large for a costly Solarplate. I spent the morning using leftover scraps of plates to test the exposure time for this particular image and then crossed my fingers and went ahead and exposed the plate.

The plate looks promising. I have it sitting out on the drawing table to harden. I'm so anxious to pull a proof but I know I'll be much better off letting it sit over night to fully cure.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Controlled Chaos - I think.

Walking into the studio this morning, I didn't know where to begin; so many projects in the "promising" stage and so many possibilities. I need to start dealing with one at a time to see if I can bring something to fruition.

My drawing table has collagraph pieces waiting to be finished and Solarplate proofs to shuffle around. The counter has plates waiting to be proofed again and ink left out from the night before. Thankfully, Akua ink allows me to leave things out over night.

Yesterday, I printed a relief plate on some sheer fabric. Ultimately, what I have in mind and have been toying with for months, is to create a series of prints that are stitched together to create "print collages".

At this point, I'm in the process of printings various plates and items so I have an assortment of images to work with. The tricky part will be to pull together a cohesive composition from so many bits and pieces. Once I get one piece completed, I'll see where I stand with this idea.

In the mean time, things are on hold so I can take care of a few necessary errands and indulge in a reflexology session to sooth this type A soul. I'm hoping to come back relaxed and ready to jump back into the mess.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Sky Fall

Even though my summer was packed full of activities, every now and then I was able to snatch a wee bit of creative time and work out ideas for possible prints.

The beach is such a great source of inspiration that often times it's almost too much stimuli. The ideas start flowing and eventually you just need to grab one and run with it. I decided to start by focusing on the heavens.

After playing around with a few options, I manipulated images in Photoshop and created some positive transparencies. Solarplate scraps were used to test exposure times and then plates were burnt.

When I'm at the beach, I never tire of the constantly changing cloud formations that having an unobstructed view affords. Being used to living in the woods, surrounded by tall oaks, definitely hinders ones view of the horizon. Looking up through the canopy of leaves provides me with a cropped sky view; always beautiful but nothing as stunning as a wide open vista.

Individual sections on left, single print on right.
Originally, I was going to create one long print on a single sheet of paper but decided instead to work with sections.

First I printed two separate plates as a diptych. It was OK but seemed to lack a connection between the two images. I decided to create an additional narrow plate; just clouds. I cut the sections apart and inked them separately varying the colors slightly and using chine colle' on the moon section. This worked much better.

Having just completed a large edition for a portfolio, I was more interested in experimenting with this piece. I liked the possibilities that arose when the plates were in sections; affording various inking and wiping options. Also, I had been thinking about "collaging" prints together to create variable editions and this gave me a chance to try that out. Most of all, it felt good to be back at work and finally get something completed!

I finished the piece by embossing a shape to surround the three sections and then each print was carefully glued into place. The resulting "Sky Fall" represents the ever changing and unpredictable nature of time, tides and beach.

Sky Fall

Experimenting with a new ink

Speedball is in the process of developing a new relief ink that is a water-washable oil. Emails were sent out asking for artists who were interested in trying the ink. All were asked to use the inks as we normally would and make notations and comments as we went along. Our feed back will eventually be collected through an online survey and possibly by phone. My can of ink arrived Friday morning so yesterday I gave it a try and made photos as I went along.

As a printmaker who's interested in less toxic materials, I'm a huge fan of Akua inks. To hear that Speedball is developing an oil relief ink that is water-washable is exciting and I was intrigued by this new product .

After my experimentation session, I ended up being very impressed with the ink and hope that Speedball moves forward with this new ink line. I would definitely use it for relief printing.

Getting my groove back.

Finally!! I've had an uninterrupted block of time to converse with my muse; no appointments, no obligations, no moving from place to place and no one needing my assistance. Needless to say I was happy to get back to the studio.

But alas, having been away so long, where to begin was an issue. A major deadline was looming (that in itself can often have a crippling effect on progress) and my creative energy was skipping from one idea to another; like a bee moving from one flower to the next, never settling for any length of time on one blossom. Ideas that I've been having over the summer but not had the opportunity to engage with, were backed up in my mind; a traffic jam of creative options. The challenge now was getting these ideas out of my head and down on paper.

I needed to focus on just one thing at a time and hope I'd eventually get into that zone that would allow me to settle down and actually get something accomplished.

Working on sketches, creating positive transparencies, and burning a few test plates got me back into the routine of studio work. Pulling proofs got my mind back into the game and by the end of the week I felt like I had some sense of the way forward.

How I spent my summer vacation.

The summer was such a whirlwind of activity! My daughter's family spent the summer with us while their kitchen was being remodeled.

Believe me, there was never a dull moment! Four grandchildren, two of the human kind and two furry ones, made for endless days of non-stop activity and Grandma and Papa were only to happy to indulge in the joy of being in the thick of things.

Phineas; Mr. Cool with his sun glasses.

Scarlett; my "cabbage patch doll".
Digging holes by the tides edge, fetching tennis balls, running in the surf, trips to the playground and local aquarium, eating seafood, and venturing into the ocean made everyday an adventure.

Ruby doesn't sit still; always digging.
Oscar is a comfort dog. Just chilling under the umbrella.
Needless to say, Springer Spaniels LOVE the shore and any opportunity to swim in the ocean. They have no idea how lucky they are to have their own beach and are always so pooped out at the end of the day, that they don't even mind being used for seating.

It was amazing to watch the children grow before our very eyes. A lot of development can take place over a couple of months, especially where little ones are concerned. By the end of the summer, the baby was sitting up on her own (and trying to crawl) and the toddler had grown an inch or more.

Queen of the toys.
When all was said and done, it was a wonderful summer. We consider ourselves fortunate to have has so much time with the little ones; too often a rarity in this fast paced world. The silence was deafening at end of August when everyone headed home.

We were left with empty shells and empty hearts, but a lifetime of memories .....

.... and looking forward to the dawn of next summer.