Etching Adventures, Part 4

Last week we took a break from my projects to take a look at Doel Reed's work. Today, we'll get back into my stuff as I embark on my second etching plate.

As I mentioned in a recent Sketch of the Week, one of my aunts recently passed away from cancer. Though I wasn't as close with her as I am with other members of my family, her death has churned up a lot of feelings in me, including guilt, regret, and wistfulness. I have a hard time talking about my emotions, so I've been using my latest etching to work through my feelings and honor her memory.

This, you may recall, was the sketch I decided to use. Basically there are two sources behind this drawing. The first is a cluster of tree roots I drew down at Shelburne Farms about two years ago. They were growing on a ledge overlooking a rocky beach.

Photograph of the roots I saw at Shelburne Farms.

The sketch I made while I was on-site.
My aunt had always wanted to visit Shelburne and stay at the Inn at the Farms, especially when I moved to the area, but that obviously never happened. I've been told repeatedly that I can't blame myself for this, but I still do because I feel like I should have tried harder to get her out here to see me. Guilt is a strange thing, and likes to keep us company even if we don't necessarily deserve its presence. The tree roots, and their reference to Shelburne Farms, are my way of coping with the guilt I've been feeling.

The second influence is Japanese art, particularly the beautiful painted screens of the 17th centuries. My aunt always had a strong affinity for Asian art and philosophy, so incorporating that aesthetic into my work is how I've chosen to honor her personality and character.

Tosa Mitsuoki, Flowering Cherry and Autumn Maples with Poem Slips, 1654-81. The Art Institute of Chicago

Now let's move on to the etching.

For the plate itself, I distorted the forms of the roots to evoke screen paintings of cherry trees. They no longer don't bear much of a resemblance to the original roots I'd sketched, but this is the beauty of having artistic license: you can change things. I also drew some abstracted clouds in the background, and I plan on doing some aquatint experimentation with them.

My plate, all drawn up and ready for acid
While I was at class Wednesday night, I plunged my plate into the line etching acid bath.

My plate hanging out in the acid bath.

After the requisite twelve minutes, I cleaned the plate and inked it up for a test run.

My plate, cleaned and inked.

Once I had finished inking the plate, it was time to run some test images.

Printing attempt number 1. It came out a little blurry.

Printing attempt number 2. I didn't re-ink the plate for this one, so this is a ghost image.

I also went back to the studio on Saturday to print with my private stash of BFK Rives paper:

I think we're off to a good start, but in my eyes this piece isn't finished yet. Next week we'll aquatint the background.