Friday, November 11, 2011

Evolution of a print

Ramses, my art critic (I'm not sure if him sitting on my art means he likes it or exactly the opposite), thought I should show you my final three prints and some of the before and after photos. 
So, here is the first one, which you had already seen after the first printing. It was a process of white ground on an aquatint. I then wanted to tone down some of the highlights, but the ground I used to stop out the areas I wanted to keep light, failed and the whole image ended up dark.

That's when I thought it was ruined. But my teacher said that as long as there is copper, it can be fixed.
So after burnishing and burnishing some more and then a sugar lift and aquatint to bring back some darks, here is the final print of this. So much more beautiful than it would have been had I not "ruined" it.
The same happened with this next print. Here, you can see the white ground painted onto the copper plate. The areas that are white will etch less than the areas that are left uncovered.
After the first printing, I again wanted to do some more work on it - there were several areas that I wanted to tone down and define some more. 
And again, the ground I put on to stop out areas I wanted to keep the same, failed and everything was dark and looked totally ruined to me.
And again, it wasn't. I burnished and did another sugar lift and aquatint and love the final print. All those different layers were so necessary for the end result.
And then there is my third print, my serious self-portrait that you have already seen. I wanted to show you the white ground on the copper plate though because I worked it reductively.

I first applied a layer of white ground to the whole plate and then drew on it (and thereby removing the white ground to allow the copper to be etched) with a blending stump. And then I used a paper towel to work in the larger shadow areas.
After the first printing, I cropped the image, which simply means I cut off part of the copper plate, to make it more interesting to me. I didn't need to do any other work on it. This one was finished after the first couple of processes.
This morning I pulled editions of three prints for each of these images and all went beautifully. I have really grown to love this class and process. I have learned so much not only about etching, but about myself. It was so challenging at times and at the same time so rewarding.

Today, as I inked my plates nine times, wiped the ink off nine times, printed nine times, I found it relaxing and quite meditative, something I had not believed possible at the beginning of the class.

And while I am writing this about the copper plates I thought were ruined and how the end result was so much better than the initial print I had planned, I am reminded of our lives and how we often wish we could only have the good times and not the rest.

But isn't it the totality of our experiences that adds depth and beauty to our lives? At least that's what I find in my life. I love the person I am becoming and this person would not be possible without every single experience I have had in my life. And for all of those experiences - truly all of them - I am eternally grateful!


  1. Your print work is involved and amazing, you've learned so much. What you say is true about our experiences in life. So much of my growth has come from the negative situations in my life although I resist that change. I'm learning to embrace all experiences as I get older and try not to fight them but accept things gracefully. Have a great weekend.

  2. These are so cool Silke! Great to see your process! And I agree with you . . . the toughest times in my life are when I have learned the most about myself and did the most growing. Its all about the journey isn't it?

    Hugs! xoxo

  3. Whoa! The final print is so different and wonderful! Will you burnish and sugar lift me?

  4. Love that comment above! You burnish and sugar lift people every day! :-)
    This must bring you so much JOY to bring this art to life.
    Love your photo of your cat sitting on your work...why DO cats find the MOST important piece of paper to sit on? It's a mystery...but you have to laugh!

  5. I tried etching a long time ago and got very frustrated with it. You've made some fantastic work here! I think it's wonderful that you stuck to it and kept on until you reached a pleasing finish, well worth it and a metaphor for life. :)♥
    Jess xx

  6. Silke, es ist so spannend, deine Werke und deine Entwicklung zu beobachten. Du kannst stolz und zufrieden mit dir sein. Ich freue mich, dass du uns daran teihaben lässt. Ich wünsche dir viele weitere Experimente, Erfahrungen, Fortschritte und... I stay tuned:-) Have a great weekend ahead, Inge

  7. They all look great, Silke. I am sure Ramses is quite approving. :) I loved seeing all the prints in their different states. It's good to be back online visiting again - have a happy weekend!

  8. This is so amazing how the prints come out.

  9. Very impressive, Silke. All three prints are very very good ~ Like you, I love how they turned out.
    How right you are about our experiences making us who we are today.Joys and regrets, we are who we are.
    ♥ audrey

  10. Well done, you! I love these etchings! They are wonderful! And I think you are so right -- what a metaphor for life. We think something is ruined, and then something even better comes from the experience. How very inspiring! Thank you so much for sharing. ♥♥♥

  11. Amazing what you have achieved - the end results were worth the 9x3!! Ramses is doing just what cats do best - the final step in the process - warming the print! That's a lovely pic of you at the open house above!