Monday, May 14, 2012

Lets Learn Something New Today!

Hey guys. So I just realized today that I never showed you my other art from this previous semester. I showed you my drawings, and my amazing painting, but I didn't show you the prints I made in Intro to Printmaking.

Let me preface by saying how much fun I had in this class; it will seriously go down as one of my favorite classes. It was a lot of work though too.

For those of you who may not know what Printmaking really is (me included before this semester), it is the process of either engraving an image into metal (in our case copper) or cutting away an image (usually wood) and then running it through a printing press to put the image on paper.

It's a really long and tedious process if you don't know what you are doing. Take, for example, the below print.
Stage 1

By now you guys are probably thinking I am obsessed with the Wizard of Oz, what with my blog name, and now this print (not to mention an assignment in my mixed media class was to alter a book and I did Wizard of Oz) but I promise you I am not (really...). I was in love (and still am) with Wicked the Musical when I made this blog, and it was hard to NOT do Wizard of Oz for this print. The reason for that is that the first assignment was to take a print from Goya's Caprichos and either copy it entirely or change some things around but leave the general composition. So when I chose This Print, it shouted flying monkeys at me and my imagination went wild.

To create a good line etching, you cover a copper plate in a ground and then draw into it. Whatever copper is exposed is what will be etched when it is put into the acid bath. To create different darkness-es you leave it in for different periods of time, and either reveal or cover up as you go. The above print was my first state and turned out pretty awful -- even my teacher thought so. I was really frustrated at that point and wasn't sure how to turn it around. 

Stage 2

After doing the initial line etching, we were required to add aquatint (once you get into advanced classes you don't have to do aquatints, so line etchings are good on their own). To add an aquatint, you cover up the areas you want white with the ground and then spray paint specks on the rest and put it in the acid. To make different darkness-es you once again cover up as you go.  The above is the initial aquatint, before I added shadows and depth. 

Stage 3

This is where I finally started liking my print. To add different highlights you simply burnish away the textures created by the aquatints. The harder you press with your burnisher, the more it takes off and the whiter it gets. I knew I wants a nice range so I added burnishing in several areas, with different strengths of pressing throughout.

Final Stage

Between stage 3 and this one I did quite a bit of burnishing and re-aquatinting according to what my teacher thought I should do. I am so proud of this print, and so was my teacher. What started out as a crappy line etching turned into an amazing final print with a great composition and nice twist on a class Goya print. My teacher absolutely loved it also; he thought I was really creative in my ideas.

All of the above literally took most of the semester, because making prints is a learning process the first time. We also had 2 other assignments this semester. The second was another copper etching of whatever imagery we wanted. He calls it the "Imagination Plate", and we started by just writing down whatever came to our brains over a ten minute span. Since he called it imagination, some of the ideas that came to my head were a bit absurd, including my final imagery choice: A knitting cat in the bathtub.  

From there it expanded into this:

A knitting cat wearing a gas mask in the bathtub, located in the typical kitty game room.

If I could find my original line etching of this I'd show you guys, but I can't. I am kinda glad, because it was just about as bad as my line etching for the Goya. There is just something about aquatinting that is magic for me - my teacher agrees. I didn't mean to make it that black either, but I think I underestimated the power of the acid and left it in too long. But I like it! All those white (except the pure whites of the tv, cat, and dart board) were burnished away and it was so much fun to see the results when I got done.

The 3rd project was a woodblock, which involves cutting away into wood and then printing the image onto paper. I don't have any copies of that one to show you guys, because they take forever to print and dry and I didn't have time to make any more than the one I gave my teacher (I have NINE of the bathtub kitty prints...if anyone wants one I may sell a couple...just saying). The woodblock was a gas mask kitty sleeping surrounded by air tanks and smog. It wasn't as successful.

By the end of the semester my teacher was pestering me to take advanced next semester, he was THAT impressed with my prints. Sadly I cannot, too many other studios next semester. But I will take it next spring. I really did enjoy this class, it was a nice creative outlet for my brain to have and so laid back. If I keep making prints, I have a few more ideas for gas mask kitties I want to do. There is just something about the gas mask that fits really well onto the cat head. Maybe I just have a sick brain.

Summer is here! Which means more knitting! Hopefully I'll post on WIP Wednesday. Until then, have a great week!



  1. Wow, I had no idea that printmaking was that involved! The process is so neat and I love the work that you did. They are very you, that's for sure : ) I'm so glad that you had a class that you really liked this semester.

  2. Oh my!! Those are absolutely amazing!!

  3. So cool to see the whole process come together, beautiful job :)

  4. I'm just catching up on posts.... and this is so awesome - I'm glad I didn't miss it. The whole printmaking process really intrigues me. I know a little about wood or linoleum, but nothing about etchings. You've done some amazing work here- you should definitely pursue more printmaking!

  5. Beautiful! Thanks for sharing your process :-)

  6. These are really special - you are a fabulous printmaker!


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