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Posts Tagged ‘printmaking workshops’

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night…

We’ve had a bit of all that in the past few days but it didn’t slow down the art studets and professors from  The American School in Switzerland (TASIS). Twelve students from Italy, Turkey, Mexico, the USA, Russia, Afghanistan, UK, and France have come to Maureen’s studio for an intensive five-day introduction to solarplate printmaking.
Art professor Martyn Dukes and photography professor Frank Long have returned this year with another crop of young artists and photographers. Some of the photographers were asking themselves what they were doing in a printmaking course, but when they saw the first prints made by tracing over photographs on acetates, burning them on photosensitive plates and putting the plates through an etching press on beautiful paper, they quickly changed their minds.
Here’s the first snapshots from day one. Tomorrow we’ll take a look at some of the work they’ve done.

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Mau_in_studio_ffill 007

And What You Can Do About It in Your Own Work

How many artists have come into my studio on the first day proclaming, “No, I’m not interested in solarplate. I’ve done it and I didn’t like the results.” Then I get out some solarplate work that I and other people have done in my studio and the negativism turn to questions. “How did you get those whites? How did you achieve those velvety blacks and the whole range of tones? These are beautiful prints!”

This happens regularly. Why? Because solarplate prints are (apparently) so quick and easy to make. You just scan or photograph an existing image (sketch, watercolor, photograph…), print it on a transparent acetate with a laser printer, sandwich it under glass with a photosensitive polymer plate, and expose it under sunshine or a UV lamp. Wash and dry it, pull a print of it on an etching press and, bingo, you’ve got a solarplate print. Well, almost. What you’ve actually got is a mediocre solarplate print. Given these results most artists never get beyond this point. It’s a shame as solarplates, when prepared with care and criteria, are capable of yielding beautiful work. With them you can either opt for positive intaglio prints using an aquatint screen, or negative relief prints without the screen.

What’s the big secret. There’s no big secret, but there a lot of little ones, and some of the most important have to do with the preparation of the acetate. It’s your all-important original. If you don’t start with a beautiful acetate you’ll never get a beautiful print. Most of the flaws in a typical solarplate print are introduced in the process of scanning. Even if you start out with an image with a proper range of tones–and no watercolor will ever clear this hurdle–the scanning processs will degrade that image. How do you recover it?

The best way is to skip the scanning/photography process altogether and create your image directly on the acetate using an opaque medium such as India ink or etching ink. You can also use lithographic ink and pencils or permanent black felt pens. This will guarantee you black blacks and brilliant whites. You’re already ahead in the game. Then you can add mid-tones to a positive plate by diluting the ink in various degrees. If you’re using Indian ink dilute with water, if it’s etching ink, with turps.

The aquatint screen, exposed first, before the image acetate, enables you to render tones in your solarplate print, similar to aquatint in an acid etching. Negative plates, similar to a woodcut or linocut, require pure blacks to highlight relief. You can use the same exposure time for the aquatint screen no matter what the light source. The area where  you put the black ink will be washed out down to the steel backing leaving the unpainted areas in relief.

If you need to work from a scanned image you will have to adjust contrast in PhotoShop or other image treatment program (or take it on a pen drive to a good photocopy shop and have them do it for you) and then later by hand, working on the acetate.  This means cleaning the whites with a cotton bud with a little alcohol and strengthening the black areas with opaque ink, felt pens or lithographic pencils. (NB: Be sure to use special laser acetates. If you use a normal acetate it will melt inside your printer.)

If you don’t have a vacuum exposure unit–and not many of us do–you may have trouble achieving perfect contact betweeen the plate and the acetate during exposure. This is especially important as the plates get bigger and more expensive, as you don’t want to waste many of them! To avoid this problem I add a layer of 15mm-thick foam rubber in what becomes a six-layer sandwich (from the bottom up: backing board, two felt blankets stuck to the board, a sheet of foam rubber, the plate, the acetate and the heavy-duty glass beveled on the edges). All of this I clamp firmly with six spring-loaded C-clamps.

Achieving proper exposure of a solarplate requires both art and science. People who come to printmaking from photography or science backgrounds usually emphasize the former, painters the latter. Both approaches require extensive testing. The photographers tend to do it more systematically, the painters more intuitively. Whatever your inclination, don’t be tempted to rush the exposure testing process. The success of all your solarplates from here on out will depend upon it. And don’t forget to incude the plate wash times in your tests. They are also a factor in getting quality results.(Note: The best light source for exposing solarplates is the midday sun, so you should probably move to Spain or Arizona.)

Pulling your first print from a properly prepared solarplate is a satisfying experience. If you’ve done everything right the improvement is notable. Your first proof print will not be your bon a tiré, however, and it’s still not too late to retouch your plate with a bit of drypoint. Now you enter into the thousand nuances of choosing and mixing inks and printing your plates, not to mention paper selection. I usually refer to this state as “creative printing.”

But that’s another chapter.

P.S. All of the steps in this process are easier to do than to explain. Come on over and we’ll do them together!

I almost forgot. I have made a video tutorial on this subject, available here.

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Impresiones Gigantes 2013Granada celebrated all day yesterday, Saturday May 25, 2013 the second edition of  Impresiones Gigantes in which a group of hard-working international lino-cut artists bring their linos out into the park, ink them in front of a mesmerized public, then carefully lay them down on the street , cover them with fabric and run a road roller over them. Shazam!  A giant print. Then they hang them all over the bandstand and the lamp posts in the Paseo del Salón. It makes a glamorous display that attracts lots of art lovers and Saturday strollers. (more…)

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Mauren and Jini Grinwald pulling a printThanks to an exclusive new service from the world’s leading video site artists can now access my printmaking tutorials–formerly available only via download–on YouTube. So they (you) will no longer have to go through the download process. All you need to do is click on a link and start watching them immediately in streaming video, with excellent image quality even in full-screen mode.

Sound interesting? Follow this link.

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What’s a Gallinero? And why would you want to stay there?

Cathy Naro and Maureen Booth in Maureen's printmaking studio in Granada, Spain

Chicago printmaker, Cathy Naro, who was here last year around this time, has returned for another workshop with Maureen. This time they’re working on combining some of the solar-plate prints Cathy made last time with liquid-metal techniques. (more…)

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Brian Barry of Cork Printmakers is promoting a three-dayfestival of steam-rollered linocuts in Granada this year (place and date to be announced).

 

 

Irish printmaker, Brian Barry, the member of Cork Printmakers who participated in the organization Ireland’s first giant-prints-pressed-with-a-steamroller event, has arrived in Granada with his portable street-festival giant-linocut show. Having spent the past few weeks contacting and organizing local artists he now has enough participants and has ordered big, 80×190 cm., artist’s linoleums. As soon as they arrive the Granada artists will begin carving their images into the linos, which will then be inked with big paint rollers and laid down under paper or fabric to have the image trasferred by means of a standard road-works steam roller. Here’s a link to the new Impresiones Gigantes website, and a video of a similar event staged in Missoula, Montana last year.

Sounds like a lot of fun. We’ll keep you posted.

What’s a Gallinero? And why would you want to stay there?

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Wall mural by El Niño de las Pinturas on the Cuesta la Escoriaza in Granada

Granada doesn’t have a contemporary art museum, but it has one of the finest grafitti artists in the world, Raúl Ruiz, El Niño de las Pinturas. (Here’s his web site.)  Raúl started painting on Granada’s walls in the 1990s. Over the past two decades, besides adorning his home town with a distinguished collection of wall art, always while dodging Granada’s municipals,  he’s been invited to take his work to the walls of Portugal, Holland, Italy, Venezuela, Hungary, Belgium, France, among other places. Well-documented followers calculate that Raúl has more than 2,000 murals all over the world.

El Niño de las Pinturas, grafitti in Granada

His work is both idealistic and poetic, and tends to feature brief prose poems done in exquisite calligraphy along with evocative scenes of infancy and adolescence, scenes which sow tenderness and solidarity wherever he works. These human elements are contrasted with the voracious metaphoric gears and train wheels that permeate industrial society.

Grafitti by Raúl Ruiz, El Niño de las Pinturas, on the Cuesta la Escoriaza in Granada
Raúl says:

“Cansado de las mismas respuestas,decidi cambiar mis preguntas”
“¿son números lo que tu alma nutre?”
“¿quizás el materialismo se está apoderando de nuestras almas? ”
“¿Qué hacer con juegos que siempre se pierden?”
“…sólo quien a renunciado a la victoria y a la derrota encuentra su camino… “
“…y haciendo cosas que rompo para arreglarlas y volver a romperlas paso mi tiempo…”
“y el tiempo se acaba…y la vida no espera…”
“el mundo está oscuro…ilumina tu parte…”
“Y donde miro si ojos no tengo…”

Tired of the same old answers, I decided to change my questions
is it numbers that your soul nourishes?
Perhaps materialism is devouring our souls,
What shall we do with games that are always getting lost?
only one who renounces victory and defeat can find his way…
making things that I break, just to mend them, then break them again, I spend my time…
and time runs out… life doesn’t wait…
the world is dark… enlighten your part…
Where do I look if I don’t have eyes?

What’s a Gallinero? And why would you want to stay there?

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