After having worked mostly with oil paint on canvas, I was introduced to the line and tonal possibilities of printmaking. The huge range of technical possibilities appeals to my curiosity and the enjoyment of exploration of the novel and unexpected. Initially, my investigations were entirely monochromatic, with ‘safe’ (i.e. ‘non-toxic’) intaglio, but I rapidly moved to traditional nitric acid with zinc or ferric chloride with copper. I also explore saline sulphate solution to etch aluminium. Currently I work frequently with the electro-etching process, mostly with steel or occasionally copper plates, where an electric current through an electrolyte replaces acid as a mordant.
My subject matter tends towards the non-figurative, but not exclusively so. This is probably the result of my enjoyment of ventures into the unknown and the sense-making struggle that carries over from the challenges of process into the possibilities of end-products. Those images can be unexpected and exciting as the result of pursuing rich mark-making and tonal possibilities. Adding personally fabricated light-fast acrylic-coloured chine collée to print production supported my inclination to extend from monochrome to coloured images.
Electro-etching steel or copper offers further possibilities of generating robust multi-level plate surfaces that lend themselves to coloured prints by using inks of differing viscosities. In viscosity printing, multi-coloured images become possible from an inked plate’s single passage through the press. (See image, ‘A Magical Place’.) Deeply etched steel or copper can produce embossed sculptural effects on paper, but also invites treating the plates as coloured images in themselves. This process of plate as product requires protection of the metal surface with epoxy resins, so that the changes produced by oxidation over time – e.g. rusting of steel – are averted in the finished artwork.
The technical processes I enjoy tend to result in unique prints or very small editions due to reproducibility often being elusive.