Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Solarplate Workshop

On October 3-5 I took a workshop with Dan Welden to learn how to use solarplates. This three day workshop was a real challenge for me as I tried to do some images that were not my typical kind of thing. Eventho I did quite a bit of preparatory work, I was still somewhat stumped as to what to do. I didn't want to just print photos, but I did want to explore all the possibilities for the solarplate, which to me is almost a kind of cross between printmaking and screen printing. So here's some of the images I worked on...

This first image is a digital photo I took here on the ranch and then imported into Photoshop. I played around with levels and posterizing until I had something I liked the range of tones in. I thought this would be a good test for the solarplate. I first exposed my plate with an 800 dpi aquatint screen for a minute and a half and then 1:30 exposure with the film positive. I did a regular intaglio inking and printing on Hahnemuller paper. The detail on this one was very impressive along with the velvety blacks. I used Graphic Chemical Bone Black Etching Ink.

This is a ghost print of the same image (meaning I just placed another sheet of paper on the plate and then reprinted it). I thought this came out good as well...completely different.

The next day I decided to try painting directly on the solarplate. I used black etching ink to make a drawing of poppy seedheads then scratched lightly into it with rubber contour brushes, wooden picks and Q-tips. The plate was then exposed and printed. I felt I had overwiped the plate and had lost much of the background detail.

So I did a couple more prints playing with the inking to see how the detail would change.

I'm not totally happy with this image and would like to spend more time playing around with other inking ideas using the Akua Intaglio Inks I just ordered.

On the final day I wanted to work with drawing on a transparency, but I was stymied to come up with an idea. On the way to class I grabbed some leaves off the Balm of Gilead poplar by our gate and had stuck them in my pocket. I pulled them out and started doing rubbings of them with black oil pastel. It worked great on the transparency and Dan suggested a dusting with baby powder to bring out the fine detail. The plate was exposed and inked and this was the result...

I made one final print with a surface roll of the Akua just to see how that would look...

I enjoyed learning about solarplate and I'm sure there are some instances where it will come in handy in my artwork.

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