Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Sand & Shadows

First this this morning I pulled a proof from yesterdays plate and was happy to see that it printed as I had hoped. These last two plates hold a lot of ink so it takes awhile to wipe them but by mid- afternoon I had an edition completed.

Sand & Shadows
The fourth print in my Springer series; Sand & Shadows. (Since my subjects are Springer Spaniels I'm trying to keep the "S" thing going).

So here is the series so far. My goal was to create bold, graphic compositions that didn't look too "cute". Hopefully I'm heading in the right direction. I'm considering working on a few smaller sized plates next but for now I think I'll put the dogs aside and focus on a few new ideas.




Monday, November 3, 2014

On A Roll

I feel like the flood gates have opened and I can't seem to stay away from the studio. Ideas and projects incubating in my mind all summer need to emerge; in a hurry. And, as any card carrying Scorpio will tell you, once we focus on something we take it head on; its almost impossible to divert us from our path. So, the weekend was spent printing an edition, framing a print, and finishing up sketches for new pieces.

I couldn't wait to get started this morning but had to clean up and organize a bit. My "Searching" edition was hanging on the line by the window but because of their size I kept bumping into them.  My solution was to move them to an out of the way location - the treadmill; guaranteed not to be disturbed.

The morning was spent adding finishing touches to my drawings, creating transparencies and proofing and calibrating exposure times for the various film positives. By mid-afternoon I was ready to make the plates.

Just when I thought I had used up all of my Solarplates and would have to put things on hold, I found a box with a couple of forgotten plates tucked away. What's interesting is the color of the older Solarplates. I can't remember from where I had ordered them and I don't know if the color is related to the supplier or age. When I print tomorrow, it will be interesting to see if there's a difference in how the plates perform.

Here they are, ready to go. The large plate on the right is another piece for my Spaniel series. The other two plates are the start of a new series which I'm thinking of calling "Pressed & Stitched". Time to call it a day.

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" http://hardpressed-treetopstudio.blogspot.com/2012/07/first-of-series.html 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.