A row of brownstones: process part III

I planned to post this Friday, but things being what they are out in the world, I didn’t manage it. With things in NYC going from quasi-normal to lockdown in a matter of days, it wasn’t a priority. I spent part of the weekend in communication with family and friends near and far, a final stock-up (including art supplies), and Sunday I was working on a freelance design project.

Today is the last day restaurants and bars are open; henceforth bars will be closed and restaurants will be pick-up and delivery only. I’m on day two of isolation (and of working from home). I suppose things will begin to take on some sort of rhythm pretty soon.

In that spirit, here is part three of my process on this experimental etching piece.

Image of an etching plate in progress, next to a reference image on iPad

Above you can see my plate (collection of individual strips of copper) It has a very fine layer of melted rosin dust on the surface, and the black masking layer is asphaltum, a thick substance that resists the acid, even in long dips. That will keep the sky area and windows from etching.

For my other masked areas in this process I used sharpie markers. They are not as reliable, and as a result, one can get very interesting results in tonal textures.

Images of an etching plate in progress, next to a reference image on iPad (2)

Above are two more shots showing my process of masking in between dips in the acid. The iPad has my layered reference file to assist. In this process, you start out dipping the plate with areas you’d like to stay un-toned blocked off or masked. Then do your first dip, which will result in the lightest tone.

Image of an etching plate in progress, with ever more masked out reas

Continue on in this way, dipping and masking, to build up areas of tonal value. The areas that stay unmasked the longest will be the darkest, as you can see below. (Remember, the print comes out a mirror of the plate.)

I’m pretty happy with this result! My next step will be to burnish the areas of tones that I fond too dark. By burnishing, you can lighten the tone, so I’ll be able to bring some details out of the murky panels, and delineate details such as the carved parts of the façades, and I can graduate the panes of the windows. It’ll need quite a lot of burnishing to get the full range of tonalities it will need.

Close up image of a test-print of the aquatint after finishing the acid dips

What do you think?

Are my explanations clear, as regards the processes of etching? I hope the images help. Sometimes the technical side of things can be difficult to get the wording to make sense.

Thanks for reading. I’m hoping this blog will get more attention as a result of the isolation. I assume I’ll have more time for art and writing. Be safe and stay healthy out there!

2 thoughts on “A row of brownstones: process part III”

  1. Being a musician but definitely not a visual artist, I can’t imagine having the vision, skill, and patience to do what you are doing. But I very much appreciate your giftedness and that you share it with us!

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