Vicki MacLean is a well-established artist who has received much deserved acclaim for her large works in oil and watercolour. She evokes the subtle qualities of Nova Scotian rural life and landscape with precise and intimate attention to the lay of the land, the hue of each season, the changing qualities of northern light. With her more recent interest in intaglio MacLean has translated her larger visions into rich, concise copper plate etchings with characteristic verve and intense purpose. The immensity of a field of yellow crops, the dense complexities of a magnificent sunset: Vicky MacLean takes on the overwhelming energy and beauty of the natural world and compresses it, without losing any of its power to astonish.
Majoring in Art at the Connecticut College for Women, in New London, Conn., MacLean graduated with an Honours BA in 1960, and went on to study figure drawing, lithography, and wood cut at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Wisconsin. MacLean then moved to Canada, living for several years in Cape Breton and then relocating to Antigonish, N.S. where she works, taught, and directed the St. Francis Xavier University Art Gallery for many years.
Vicki MacLean's work is represented in galleries in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Her work is included in many private and corporate collections, including Texaco Canada, the Bank of Nova Scotia, Imperial Tobacco, Northern Telecom, Maritime Tel and Tel, Teleglobe Canada, the Art Bank of Nova Scotia and the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.
Etching is an intaglio process. A metal plate is covered with a protective, acid-resistant wax ground. The artist then draws the image in the wax with a stylus, exposing the metal. The plate is then placed in an acid bath, which corrodes the exposed areas and creates furrows and troughs that will hold the ink. The depth of the etched lines is controlled by the strength of the acid and the amount of time the plate is exposed to it. After the ground is cleaned off, the etched plate is inked and printed.
Colours in an etching may be achieved by using a different etched plate for each colour or by using a method called “à la poupée”.
Where each colour has its own etched plate, the plates must be placed in the same location on the press to ensure the artwork is properly aligned when the work is passed through the press for each colour. “À la poupée” (literally, "with the doll") describes a method of inking intaglio prints in which two or more inks of different colors are selectively applied to different parts of a single copperplate. The inked plate is then printed in a single pass through the press. The method takes its name from the poupée (doll), the small ball-shaped wad of fabric that is used to ink the plate.
Vicki uses the "à la poupée" method which provides her variations in colour for each of her editions.