Thursday, September 23, 2010

New, teeny-tiny mezzotint gives me a big headache.

I started this one, "Hestia" last week. I have yet to proof it for the first time. I thought I'd get out to the studio this evening but just kept drawing on it instead. I'll pull a proof first thing tomorrow morning at DFAC's temporary printing studio at the new "Cottage Campus" while the main building is being expanded.

I wanted to try something figurative for my 2nd mezzo and needed a reliable model for values. The inspiration for this is a little ceramic mask I've had on my home studio wall for years; I've pulled it down to practice sketching faces from time to time. I created a small drawing first, seen here, but it wasn't very useful for laying out the drawing directly. I can trace off a tiny amount of white colored pencil on top of the copper using thin vellum but it's extremely faint as I can't burnish the transfer too hard. All I can do with the white pencil is establish basic boundaries and try to add white highlights afterward by referring to the sketch and the mask. I then came in with the thin Sharpie to delineate black lines and dark areas that will remain 100% black.

Mezzotints start as a completely scuffed copper plate that prints as a solid, velvety black when it's first inked & printed. You then scrape and burnish light areas all the way to a solid white, which will then look like shiny, polished copper on the plate. It's hard to see what I'm doing and I have to have a worklight angled *just so* to see anything on the copper plate. My process is to work from light to dark —  just like drawing with white chalk on a black piece of paper. But just to make it extra fun, I'm working backwards since it's a print matrix.

It's a tiny piece — 2.25" x 4" — but a huge challenge.