Printmaking Process 6

Hi, I know its been awhile, so I decided to continue with the Printmaking Process used for the cover of Roy and the Rhino. I was about to remove the rhinos ear in the previous post, and that's where I will pickup from. After removing the rhinos ear with the scraper and burnisher tools (what a process the whole time I worked on this plate I thought there has to be an easier method for correcting mistakes)  anyway after removing the ear I re-etched it and pulled another proof. I was satisfied with the results, the ear now looked like it belonged on a rhino not a rabbit. I just went through and reinforced some of the line work on this next proof and decided it was time to add a background to the image before I started a final fine tuning.

I had envisioned a background sky at dusk so the sky would have had a gradual gradation from dark at top to a bright sunset on the horizon. I was going to use an Aquatint to achieve this. Before I started I decided to try a test and see what a color background would look like. I took a couple of pieces of printmaking paper, made a paper mask, and airbrushed a back and foreground in. I was then going to print on top of this and get a rough idea of how a sky would look. I was so used to working in reverse that I made my mask backwards and didn't realize this until I was in the studio ready to print.

I have always been curious about how this would have turned out, and until now never thought to take a look. I opened the image in Photoshop flipped it horizontally and placed it on top of the image I was working on at that time. It would have been a lot easier to do this from the start, wish I would have thought of this earlier.

That's all for this week... back with more info shortly. One more thing before I signoff, we are strong supporters of pro ecology issues here at 4C's Studio and were just made aware of a recent issue Natural Resources Defense Council alerted us about. Some foreign owned mining companies want to dig one of the world's largest open-pit mines in the heart of the watershed that feeds Bristol Bay, Alaska. The world's largest sockeye salmon streams run through here and the effects of this mining could have devastating effects on the entire ecosystem of this area. They are going to mine for gold and copper, I mean seriously how much more damage are we going to do to this planet before we reach a tipping point and cannot undo all the damage we have done. Some people would have you believe that we can do whatever we want to the earth because God will put a band aid on it and make it all better, that is like comparing us to little babies, let's grow up and take some responsibility for this gift that was given to us. Anyway take a look at their site and help spread the message about these urgent problems. Thanks for looking.

Printmaking Process 5

Some more info for you about the printmaking process. This is proof #12. I was starting to warm up to the picture by this point, but something about the ear of the rhino and the emptiness of the background was starting to bug me.

I was playing around with these Riffler Rasps I have and started to work directly on the plate just experimenting with some background textures.

I should have known better than to do this because I wasn't happy with the results, and it was taking quite a bit of work to scrape and burnish out anything I did not like.

I added the cast shadows from the birds to the rhinos back, and worked more detail into the rhinos front and back legs. I also started undoing some of the shadow Leroy was casting and started to detail him up a little bit more.

The rhinos ear was wrong and I knew it but I was trying to put the hard work off.

I took the ear out (what a process). The background came out also but I didn't put as much time in. I started thinking about the removal process and was convinced that there was an easier way to do it than what I had read or been taught. Plenty more info next week. On an unrelated note, I have been working downtown the past few weeks and discovered a great little restaurant located in The Arcade. The restaurant is named Zen Cuisine and I have to say it is really good. They serve Asian fusion food that is always fresh, hot, tasty, and inexpensive plus the owner is super pleasant, check it out if you are downtown for lunch. See you soon!

Printmaking Process 4

Back again with some more information on the printmaking process. After the seventh proof I started to work up some of the shadows and highlights on an overlay of tracing paper, it was a good way for me to detail up certain areas before I worked directly on the plate. I drew up a little key so I knew what method to work in (white=burnish, blue=roulette wheel, pencil=soft ground, etc...).

This is proof number ten. I slowly worked up the form of the legs, body, and head on the rhino, I didn't want to put too much detail in all at once because it is a time consuming process to remove any heavy handed work. I also started to play with the title placement and font type.

By proof number 11 things were starting to take shape, but a bunch of work still lay ahead. I will have more for you next week, and finally I would like to announce that Roy and the rhino is now available at The Learned Owl Book Shop in downtown Hudson, Ohio. Thanks for looking!

Printmaking Process 3

This is not the first print (proof) I pulled but the second, I can't find the first. As you can see there was already a bit of trial and error happening. The first proof I pulled was strictly a straight line etch. I wasn't happy with the rhinos belly or ear, so I scraped and burnished those areas out and added some texture to the legs using a Soft Ground Etch. The third proof I pulled yielded some unexpected results. I added texture to the head and back, obviously way too much. At this state the rhino was looking pretty scary. I had to burnish all the areas down that were too intense. It was hard to tell where this picture was headed at this point.

This is the fifth proof I pulled. I added the belly, smoothed out the head and leg textures, and etched Leroy. The picture was starting to take shape but I still had a lot of work to do. I have a bunch more to show you next week.

This past weekend I went to 78th Street Studios for their Third Fridays monthly open gallery event. I had a good time, saw some neat art, and met William Scheele who runs Kokoon Arts Gallery. William has some really good animal/nature themed pieces on exhibit if you get a chance to stop by you definitely should. As it turns out his father William E. Scheele was a local artist who was The Director of The Cleveland Museum of Natural History, an author/illustrator of numerous books on wildlife, an early spokesman on ecological issues, and Executive Director of the World Wildlife Fund. There are quite a few of his works on exhibit as well as some cool dinosaur bronzes etc... Oh and did I mention that William represents some of the art of Charles R. Knight one of the great early artists of dinosaur and prehistoric life, what are the chances I would meet someone local who has a connection to this !!!

I finally wanted to show a picture of one of our junior artists hard at work in the studio.

That's my niece Lily (5) showing us how well she can draw a rhino, I better start looking for work elsewhere. See you next week.

Printmaking Process 2

Hi, back again. I decided to really go for it and work on a large scale for this print. I commited to an 18" x 24" zinc etching plate. I worked my sketch ideas up into this full size pencil rendering and decided to keep it fairly loose so I could save some spontaneity for the etching. Once I was satisfied with my drawing it was time to get started. I bought a plate from the local art store and rolled up my sleeves. Printmaking is a physical process. the first thing I needed to do was to bevel the edges and round the corners with a file, this prevents the plate from cutting through the press blankets and paper you are printing. Once the plate is filed the next step is to degrease the print surface, this ensures the proper bond of the Hard Ground (a mixture of asphaltum and beeswax which your image is drawn into and is the resist during the acid etching process).

Once the plate was prepped it was time to transfer the image. One important thing I forgot to mention about Printmaking is that when you are working on your plate everything is worked up in reverse. I redrew the image on tracing paper flipped it over and redrew it again with a red ball point pen (so I could keep track of my lines) over graphite coated transfer paper. Once the image was transfered to the plate I used my etching needle to redraw the image into the Hard Ground. The 2 etching needles I bought for $10-$20 a piece were not working out that well, the point seemed to get hung up as I was drawing and would not provide a continuous line, so I purchased a few cheap ball tipped stylus tools used for clay sculpting and ceramics and they worked great, it was like writing with a ball point pen.I will show one of the first proof's I pulled next week. While doing some research for the illustration I came across this cool book.This book shows the Dürer rhino in art from 1515-1799 as interpreted by various artists. Obviously photos of a rhino did not exist yet and I do not think that there were city zoo's around for people to visit, so everyone used this image as a reference when using a rhino in their artwork. What I did not know was that Dürer might not have been the first artist to interpret the creature. There is evidence that he that he never saw a living rhino and based his famous work on other drawings, anyway the book is fascinating if you are interested in this sort of thing. I will be back with more next week, see you then.

Printmaking Process 1

Where to start...I guess from the beginning. I could probably write another blog devoted solely to the cover of "Roy and the rhino", but 1 blog is enough for me to handle presently. The original idea for the cover was to use an interior picture in full color and call it a day. Flashback about 4 1/2 years ago, my sister was in town visiting and she suggested I look into a Printmaking class at a local Community College (Tri-C). I had done quite a bit of Screen printing and thought it would be a good distraction for myself at that time. I enrolled in the class and never came close to doing any Screen printing, but what I did end up doing and becoming obsessed about was the art of Intaglio. Homemade and Storebought Etching tools -  Scrapers, Burnishers, Needles etc...

Detail of acid etched zinc plate.

I ended up taking the Printmaking course maybe 6 times and learned a ton. The first few times I took the class I had to follow protocol and learn all the different etching techniques. I did a lot of experimenting knowing that I was eventually going to make a plate and prints of something that had merit. I decided that I would make the cover to this book my Dad and I came up with so that I could jumpstart this part of the project (The final artwork and Publication of our book, I had done quite a bit of preliminary artwork up to this point, but no finished pieces). I talked to my teacher Mike Gubkin (A very knowledgable instructor well worth seeking out ) and he suggested I take the class as an Independent Study Course so he could school me on some of the finer points of Etching.  Now all I needed was an idea for a picture and I would be off and running and falling and getting back up and...

The image for the cover came about as an inside joke (will explain later). The sketch above is the initial rough idea. I decided to pay tribute to one of my favorite artists and homage to one of the most recognized works of animal art.

Albrecht Dürer and his Rhinoceros

My first serious attempt. Don't laugh I must have drawn this with the opposite hand and my eyes closed.

Looking better. A lot closer to the image we all know and love.

That's all for now I will continue with more next week. By the way I have not seen it for myself yet but I hear there is a print of the Dürer rhino at the Allen Memorial Art Museum in Oberlin, Ohio. I need to go check this out. Oh and one more thing I went to one of the stores selling our book just to see if they might need to restock their inventory and much to my surprise noticed not one of the book's have sold yet. Why is everyone waiting? this book could seriously save a life. I have to admit the book looks good sitting there, you couldn't ask for better "real estate" but I would love to see that space vacant, begging for more copies to occupy it. Thanks for looking.