Dove Part Two

In last week's post I showed you the four drypoint plexiglas plates I'd made inspired by a dove sketch and the Andromeda galaxy. This week we'll print those plates and see how they turned out.

Most of the time I use a straightforward black intaglio ink when I'm printing any sort of drypoint, but for this particular print I needed to mix my own colors. Using a white intaglio ink as the base, I used my monotype inks to create the colors I needed. Since I generally only keep the primary colors on hand, I'm pretty adept at mixing a variety of hues, so this wasn't an issue. In addition to the colors, I set aside some black intaglio ink as well for the final plate.

Here are the various colors: 

Once I had the colors mixed, I inked up the individual plates. You can see the original sketch in the background.

While I was inking the plates, I had the paper soaking in water. Once the plates were ready, I dried out the paper and was ready to print. 

Here is the first plate, which as you may recall, consisted of dots:

Then I printed the second plate over that, which consisted of a light violet color and yellow/brown...

...followed by the third, which I used for the darker violet/darker brown....

...and finally the fourth plate, which provided a black outline and a few additional details such as the black neckband feathers, the beak, and the open eye. In the original sketch the dove's eye was closed, but in the print I opened the eye to make the bird look a little more lively.

With this proof on hand, I was able to more clearly see where I needed to make adjustments. You can only read so much from the unprinted plate itself; in order to fix something, you have to run a trial print. For this work, I went back to the plates and added a lot more lines, or in the of the first plate, a lot more dots, until the entire bird was covered with them.

Here's a later version, after I had done a lot more work to the plates:

In this version I not only added more detail, particularly in the black outline plate, but tried to make the different layers mesh as seamlessly as possible. Yes, the print is layered, but I don't want the individual layers to be painfully obviously or readily discernible.

Printing this work is a tedious process, between mixing the colors, inking the four plates, making sure they're registered properly, and running them through the press. As a result, I usually only get about three images per session, which in reality is the equivalent printing twelve single-plate pieces. Since I consider printmaking a meditative process, I don't mind the extra work, I just have to prepare myself for it.

I actually have a larger project planned out for this work, one that will synthesize some other things I've been working on, but it will probably take me several months to get it all printed. Between my museum work and my other projects, it usually takes me a while to finish things. You may not hear about this work again for a while then, but this story isn't over yet. This is not the last time you will see this bird.