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Change in Power

This large etching went through a lot of etching processes and changes which I thought might be interesting to share. Printmakers are detectives, scientists and explorers – there is nothing more interesting for us then to unpick the processes and discover how certain marks have been made. Some artists like to keep the mystery, but those who know me will know I am terrible at keeping secrets and I love to teach and share ideas.

So, without further ado – here is a video I made which shows the stages of etching this piece went through before finally being printed.

1. Cover the zinc plate with a thin layer of wax – called a ‘hardground’ and draw in the pylon, then etch in nitric acid or copper sulphate solution and print.

2. Cover the plate in a softer wax layer called ‘soft ground’, add a layer of tissue paper over the plate, then draw in the circles, shading around them, etch and print.

3. After printing stage two I felt some of the plate was too dark so I used a sharp tool called a burnisher to scrape back some of the darker areas.

4. I covered the plate in another layer of hardground and began to draw in the background details, these layers of different landscapes which all come from photographs I have taken on the journeys I make. This print focused on landscapes and journeys made in the UK.

5. I then etched these drawing and printed the plate again. It is nice to see the line drawings and they fit in with the composition but I was keen to create more tone to look less like an illustration.

6. So, I added a layer of aquatint (a thin rosin that is melted onto the plate to create tone) and then went through a long process of creating shades by etching different areas for different lengths of time. The longer the time in the acid the darker the shade.

7. I printed again to see how dark the shading was and felt some areas were a bit too dark and so burnished back some areas of the plate which creates a lighter shade and slight scratch and movement to the print which I like, I wanted to create this effect.

8. Once I was happy with the plate itself, I enjoyed experimenting with different coloured inks and it is really incredible how a change of colour can change the image and bring out different aspects of the print.

If you would like one of the prints within the process from the video then just email me and they are only £30 (+p&p) each with the image size being 30x30cm –

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James Brown
James Brown
Sep 21, 2022

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