Today we are going to Muse about etching. If this is your first visit, welcome to Musings. If you have been here before, welcome back. Over time we are going to talk about many things: the past, the present, perhaps the future, travel, art, society and more. Wherever my musing takes me. I hope you will come along with me.
Colored text is a link. Clicking on the text will provide additional information about the subject
Today is sort of dreary. It’s a rainy day. We need the rain but still . . .hmmm! The excitement so far has been walking the dog. Teddy likes the rain.
I’m kicking around the studio. I have been dealing with “artist’s block” for a while now.
The paints are sorted. The palettes are ready. I have stretched paper. But . . . the juices are not flowing.
Bored, I started looking through my “library”, a collection of odds and ends, in search of inspiration. I came across this:
This book came out of an unclaimed storage auction I attended in the mid 80″s in Los Angeles. It was part of the studio of Lyle R. Wheeler, a very successful movie director. He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Art Direction 29 times, winning five. In 1951, he was nominated for four different films, three in 1952 and twice for two films in one year.
Unfortunately, he suffered financial reversals in later life and the contents of his studio were sold at auction. At the time I did not know about Lyle Wheeler or the circumstances. All I knew was that I was at an unclaimed storage auction and bidding on sealed boxes without knowing what they contained, sort of like a grab bag. I bought ten for about $10 each.
This book was in one of the boxes.
The title, Modern Masters of Etching is a bit misleading. The title page reveals a bit more:
1924 was not modern even in the 80’s. Hah!
The book is a collection of high quality reproductions of etching. It brought back memories and I thought I would talk about it today.
Etching is one of the main subsets of the Intaglio Medium: etching and engraving. It is the more painterly process.
Etching is a print making process involving a number of steps. It starts with a sheet of metal (zinc, copper, steel) called a plate. The plate is coated with an acid resistance substance, usually a form of wax, referred to as the ground. A design or image is drawn through the ground with a stylus or pencil exposing the metal where the marks are made. The plate is then put into an acid bath and the acid incises lines and depressions wherever the metal is exposed to the acid.
Here is an example:
First, imagine this as a blank sheet of metal that is covered with a wax which protects the metal. Next, the artist makes a drawing through the wax exposing the plate. Everywhere there is a line or mark in this etching it was drawn through the ground. Then the plate is immersed in the acid. The acid eats away at the plate everywhere there is a mark or line.
The key to an etching is the control of the darks and lights, the values. After being in the acid bath a short time, the plate is removed and washed, stopping the acid corrosion. The areas that the artist wants to remain light are coated with an acid resist and the plate is returned to the acid bath. This process is repeated. The areas to stay less dark are sealed from the acid. Over a series of acid baths, the artist is able to achieve a range of darks and lights.
Once the plate is developed to the point the artist desires, it is cleaned. All the ground is removed exposing the bare metal plate which now has lines and depressions incised into it. The plate is inked, covered with a viscous ink. The plate is then wiped, usually by hand, removing the ink from the surface. The ink will remain in the crevices and depressions. A sheet of paper is laid covering the plate and a series of blankets are laid over the plate and the paper. This assemblage is then rolled through the etching press under high pressure which forces the paper into the lines and depressions on the plate, thus transferring a mirror image of the plate to the paper.
Here is another example, a wonderful mastery of light and dark. Etching are painterly.
When I was in college, I took a semester of etching and loved it. Unfortunately, all of my work was stolen, mine and that of several other students, from the instructors office at grading time. Because of the chemicals and other special equipment needed, I never got back to it.
I do have a couple of “proofs” remaining. This is a whimsical fantasy (remember I was a kid)
And then my self-portrait using aquatint.
More to come.
Fine Art America, a Pixel.com company
Pixel.com is producing reproductions of my artwork. The work is available as traditional prints on canvas, paper or metal, but it also available on greeting cards, phone covers, tote bags, shower curtains, t-shirts and more. It makes for some very personalized gifts. Below is the link to the site. When you click on an image in the site, a menu of products will appear. I hope you like it.
CLICK ON: thomas-tribby.pixels.com
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Books by Thomas L. Tribby Available
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Original Paintings Available