Thursday, November 14, 2013

Daytime edges to darkness

I make my way to the lake in the daylight. Blue skies and light as the workers drive home. I ride past the print studio and it just isn't right. People are working with the windows wide open, but the air smells fresh - like nothing at all. I'd miss the smell of turpentine and solvents if I was working in that room. Half of the fun of printmaking was the inky rag, black and soaked in turps - revealing the image through soft gentle strokes.  Dipping plates into baths filled with acid, it's amazing none of us got hurt. And that massive press, it was like driving a truck. How I miss those days.

Then riding home as daytime turns to night, with a chill in the air (it's already November and the air should be warm). I forget to look at the print studio on the way home because I'm dodging headlights and cars. It isn't until I'm past the railway station and I look to the hills that I begin to reminisce. The sun has set but the light is still there and in the distance is a silhouette of deep blue and shadows. It is just a hill that looks ordinary in the light of the day but right now in this light it is beautiful. 

Suddenly I would do anything to draw this scene into a metal plate and watch the acid do its thing. First the layer of ground, then patiently working up the layers until the acid bites the image into place. Then next, the perfect mix of sticky ink - not too much black into a dark dark blue. And with a piece of card, the thick ink pushes into the lines and with some work, the rag buffs the plate clean - except for the lines and the roughened surfaces. In all this mess a piece of crisp white stonehenge paper is dunked quickly in the water bath. I could never keep the corners clean but given I'm daydreaming...the corners stay un-smudged. The plate and the paper line up, the blanket is pulled down and along they roll through the big press, the tension just right. The paper pulls away from the plate slowly, the image appearing. And there you have it. That very hill in the distance, now a silhouette against the ink blue sky - white stars and the moon contrast exactly how I remember the image in my mind. 

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