Go Small or Go Home

What to do when you get stuck? Find something concrete to work toward.

Two miniature copper plates in progress

A couple weeks ago I hit a wall. I’d finished working a small flurry of etching plates. I then finished the line etch on a new plate, but had no idea (still have no idea!) what else it wants or needs. It doesn’t feel finished as it is, but my tests with ink wash to see what some tonal values might add were unsatisfactory.

I was stuck.

I spent one of my class sessions filing new pieces of copper and printing some older plates. Not the best use of my time in class, where I have the teacher’s expertise at my avail, and should use that time wisely!

Then I saw the announcement of an open call for the 5th NY International Miniature Print Exhibition. It’s a juried show, and one I entered in the Before (2019) and sold a number pf prints! Sadly, this year’s will be virtual, but I’m still excited to enter.

Test print of the line etch on the 2.25″ x 2.25″ plate

A week later, the Society of American Graphic Artists announced a similar juried show, accepting entries of small-scale works. Now I have two deadlines to work toward— and I suddenly have four new plates on the go! 

One of the new plates is a mezzotint— a new technique for me, and one that involves no acid etching. I’m very curious to see whether it will resonates with me. It’s a very different approach, wherein one starts with a plate that is entirely covered in texture, so would print solid black— rather than adding lines and textures to a blank ‘white’ plate, the artist must scrape or burnish away ares of dark to reveal lighter tones.  

What do you think about deadlines— helpful or dreadful? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.  

More thoughts on art next month. For now, my thoughts are on the people in Ukraine, whose situation seems unimaginable. I made a donation to a humanitarian aid group today, which seems a small and faraway thing to do, but it’s something.

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