• John

Not quite born to be a print maker, but close.

My passion for printmaking started in 1969. In my second year at art school we were given the choice of specializing in ceramics and printmaking. Ceramics being the in art form at the time we all applied for that only to find out there were not enough places in the class to handle us all. So we were put into a lottery and guess what I lost.

However the moment I begrudgingly walked into the print studio my life changed. When I saw the lithography stones and silkscreens, when I smelled the wonderful aroma from the inks and solvents I was hooked. Plus there was the giant litho press they must have fitted in by building the the art school around it. It was the only lottery I have won by losing.

I had a great lecturer in the first year, although I don’t think he was all that taken with my early skill. We did mainly lithography (which I really enjoyed) and screen printing as well as some lino/block printing which I began to prefer over screen printing in the second year.

Unfortunately I couldn’t pursue lithography once I began teaching but continued with lino printing.

Etching came later when in 1994 I did a short course just to try it out. Not expecting anything to wonderful I was again hooked and it is the printing process I enjoy the most to this day.

I like it for a number of reasons. It involves the creative world with a very physical practice (plate preparation, the process of etching the plate and the printing) that appeals to me. I like to immerse myself thru the entire process from design to printing.

There are many variations in etching - aquatint, hard ground , soft ground, dry point, open bite, etc. all of which give me the opportunity to try a whole lot of different mark making from time to time.

I enjoy the directness of drawing and there is a strong relation to drawing in etching. Drawing with a needle into a soft ground on top of a copper plate enables me to work quickly and freely giving the resultant image a spontaneous character I find hard to achieve in other art forms. I have heard etching described as drawing in multiple copies.

Then there is the OOH!! factor, that moment you pull the first proof print and find the image even better than you expected. Doesn’t happen all the time but a lot more times than not.

And of course there is the fun of a second childhood, having fun making a mess all be it mostly controlled, and getting black inky hands - something that freaks my wife out every times she drops into the studio when I’m printing an edition.

Visit my gallery (click on link above) to see more of my etchings and other prints.


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MartinArt Blog

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