Skating on the Beaver Pond
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framed dimension: 26 x 19.5 in.
Original prints are distinguished from offset reproductions in that they are not mechanical copies of paintings, but are hand made and hand printed in small editions and therefore more valuable. They are usually historic techniques -woodcuts, engravings, etchings, lithography on stone, silkscreen etc. My interest is in the intaglio, or ‘under the surface’ technique, which includes etching, engraving, aquatint and drypoint.
Etching process- the basic technique:
Starting off with an idea and a blank shiny piece of copper, I coat the copper plate with an acid resistant ground (wax).
Then, with a needle, I draw the image into the ground, exposing the copper below. The plate is then immersed in acid which etches lines into the plate. Once the image is etched into the copper plate deep enough, I take it out of the acid and clean off the hardground. I hand rub ink into the etched plate and then I wipe the excess ink off the surface of the plate. It is then sandwiched between the surface of the etching press with damp, high quality rag paper on top and then rolled through the press squeezing the ink onto the paper and embossing the plate and the lines into the damp paper. Out come the finished masterpiece, one always hopes.
There are many added techniques in intaglio, which can be worked on the same plate or on separate plates printed on top of one another.
“Skating on the Beaver Pond” – two plate etching and aquatint
Our favourite place to skate, with one clearing for hockey and the other for everyone else. This is a complicated two-plate etching and the plates are printed one after the other, while the paper is still damp. I’m careful to register the plates as exactly as possible. The master plate holds the line etching of the trees, the skater, his dog and the fallen log and also the warm grey green of the cleared ice surfaces where I left lots of plate tone. It is tricky to ink the skater and the dog with tiny bits of cardboard and then wipe off the ink without spreading it to the ice surface. This plate is printed second, over the etched line and aquatint plate, which is inked in bright cobalt blue to indicate the shadows in the trees and the slanted light over the pond. A final touch is some warm browns in the foreground grasses, on the figures and on the edges of the trees to indicate the warm late afternoon sun.