These days I’ve been working multiple plates at a time in my etching practice. I’ve never worked this way before; at most I may have had two plates on the go, but mostly I focused on one at a time. I’m not sure why this was; some combination of impatience to finish it and begin printing, and preciousness over the materials, maybe.
But working on multiple pieces at a time, you learn faster. You can apply what you’re learning to each piece, giving them a chance to be better than they may have otherwise. When you become stuck on one, you can jump over to another one, giving yourself some space instead of spinning your wheels on the stubborn one.
I know working on multiple pieces at once is the best approach for many artists. I’ve given it a half-hearted try here and there but never really stuck to it. Perhaps it’s because it’s often referred to as ‘working in a series’— it sounds as if they all have to relate or be of the same ilk. It’s daunting.
After the long, forced break from etching due to the pandemic, I assessed my supplies and discovered I had many small plates that I prepped ages ago and left for another day. It seems foolish to treat them as precious commodities*, so I’ve been letting loose. At the moment I have 5 plates in process and plan to begin more soon.
I’ve been experimenting with new techniques on all of them and having a lot of ah-ha moments. They’re each helping to make the others better.
The mind needs to to process and percolate; one needs to step away sometimes. Whether that’s going for a walk, doing a bit of reading, or moving on to another drawing or painting or plate, it’s often the best thing you can do for your art.
Have you experienced a transformation similar to this, whether by working on multiple pieces at once or some other epiphany in your practice? Let me know in the comments.
I hope this missive finds you well, and thank you for reading!