Thursday, September 22, 2011

What I'm currently doing

I've been working on a new print for the past few weeks. It's part of my Paraguay series once again. The memories of my first (and longest) home keep coming back at me and sometimes I spend hours going through photographs and wishing I was there again, at least for a little while. My new print is about the zoological garden in Asuncion. One of my friends works there as a veterinarian and I've gotten a very special tour behind some of the fences last time I was out there, petting the back of a tapir and scratching a capibara behind its ears. (I didn't step into the Anaconda den). I did get spat at by an unbelievably lonely, angry and bitter solitary chimp that I can only pitty. It's a rather poor zoo, but I admire what my friend is doing there to improve the living conditions of some of the animals. In addition to the caged animals there is an extensive park for taking walks. The figure that ulitmately inspired this piece was the old blind beggar playing his guitar in the park on Sunday afternoons with the sticker on his instrument saying "Me siento un rey" ("I feel like a king"). Next to him sat a candy seller listening to him. I will never forget them.

Anyways, I was going to say all these things once I post the final print. My intention here is to post some sort of progress report for those of you who are interested in what I do and what process I go through to get to the final print. The two images I'm posting here are a watercolour sketch as a visual guide for where I need to etch the different tonal values (aquatints). The second image shows my copper plate at one of the stages of etching the aquatints with various areas being blocked out with asphaltum to resist the acid and not etch.


Monday, September 19, 2011

Steel facing plate


















I got one of my plates steel faced at the print studio last week. That was a new experience for me and quite interesting to watch. I'm printing a fairly large edition with this plate (75) and after about half the edition I noticed that some of the aquatints were starting to wear down in one corner. I didn't want it to deteriorate more, so I decided to get the plate steel faced. I guess ideally you want to do that before you start editioning, but I thought better now than not at all. During the steel facing process, a thin layer of iron is plated onto the copper plate through an electroplating process. It doesn't change the image in any way, it just hardens the surface and therefore holds up longer to the printing process. Fragile surfaces like the aquatints can wear down during the repeated process of rubbing ink into the surface. I love the carbon coloured look of the plate, but it takes some adjusting with the wiping. I didn't quite know what tone to look for to know when I was done wiping, since I'm used to the reddish background of a copper plate.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Greetings from the Highpoint Center for Printmaking in Minneapolis


















I moved to Minneapolis a few weeks ago and since September 1st I have a membership at the Highpoint Center for Printmaking. What an amazing facility it is! Spacious, super clean, well organized...it's a printmakers dream. Being new and being around so many professional printmakers is a bit intimidating, but I hope that'll change eventually. The staff around are super nice, so it shouldn't be too hard. We'll see where things will take me. I'm currently still working on some ideas I brought along with me. I'm hoping to make another one or two prints about Winnipeg before Christmas and I'm also continuing with my Paraguay print series. More about that later. I'm not quite ready to work with Minneapolis imagery quite yet. I think I have to get a little closer to my surroundings first before I can explore them in my work.