Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘Printmaking’

The East London Printmakers Annual Show: You’re Invited

My summer has been so incredibly hectic, full of travels, work and multiple new artistic creations that I have barely had time to promote the fact that several of my print works are about to feature in the East London Printmakers (ELP) Annual group Exhibition at the Embassy Tea Gallery in London Bridge over the next two weeks! And in fact it’s very much a case of better late than never, because the show will open this very night, with an exclusive guest appearance and official opening by none other than British abstract expressionist, Albert Irvin RA.

Amongst 70 artists exhibiting works created over the last year and aptly showcasing the versatility of printmaking as a medium will be none other than yours truly – me! Yes, this show will represent my first significant outing into the exhibiting circuit since my near sell-out show at the Strand Gallery in May, and I am particularly excited to be showing two brand new prints. The works, both of which were inspired by summer travels in Spain and Croatia respectively, mark something of an innovative departure for me. Having learned both the techniques of etching and woodcut, with these prints, I decided to combine the two things, thus taking the mediums in new directions, and printing on a totally different scale.

10644904_753873787981410_8613060105862232654_n

The first of the two prints, Malaga Poolside, shows a heady day when my partner and I sunbathed and swam on the incredible rooftop of the Molina Lario Hotel in Malaga. We couldn’t quite believe that up on that hotel terrace, we were able to swim with the stunning surroudings of Malaga’s one-armed cathedral just besides us, and this print attempts to capture that incredible view in a simple black and white etched line drawing, contrasting with the vivacity of the turquoise swimming pool which is almost Hockneyian in nature.

Malaga Poolside (2014 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, etching and woodblock on paper)

Malaga Poolside (2014 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, etching and woodblock on paper)

The second of my prints is entitled Terracotta Sunrise, and illustrates the swathe of terracotta rooftops which so captivated me when I visited Dubrovnik earlier this year. While I opted again for a simple line to illustrate the details of the compact houses and streets of this beautiful Croatian city, I wanted to use a graduating block of terracotta to subtly represent the overarching colour of the city when seen from afar, doing so with a graduating roll of colour which fades off almost like a sunrise.

Terracotta Sunrise (2014 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, etching and woodblock on paper)

Terracotta Sunrise (2014 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, etching and woodblock on paper)

But of course these are only photos (and not very good ones at that) and there is no substitute for seeing the real thing. So if you are able to get down to the Southawk/ London Bridge area of London tonight (for the opening) or any time over the next two weeks, do please come along – the gallery will be open until 6pm daily until 28th September. All the details can be found here. See you there.

10678733_753879087980880_4077473047340161283_n

London’s homage to print: Part 3 – Bruegel to Freud

Earlier this year I reviewed two London exhibitions which played homage to the brilliance and versatility of the printmaking medium, both through the chiaroscuro effects achieved in early renaissance woodcuts, or through the work of a Titan of contemporary British printmaking – David Hockney. Well no sooner had those shows shut up shop than another showcase to print has opened up, this time at my favourite gallery in London, the Courtauld. 

This new exhibition, From Bruegel to Freud is characteristic of the shows that the Courtauld does best: small yet focused, and although it displays only some 30 or so prints from a total collection of 24,000, the chosen prints perfectly illustrate the startling breadth and variety of the Courtauld’s impressive print holdings. And in giving itself over to a range of prints rather than honing in on one type or period, the exhibition ably demonstrates the potential of print both as an educator and communicator (for example Nicolas Beatrizet’s vast engraved copy of the Last Judgment wall of the Sistine Chapel, or the historical engravings of various architectural buildings such as the wonderfully detailed engraving of Rome’s Colosseum exhibited), as well as a wonderfully diverse medium for artistic expression in its own right. 

Engraving of the Colosseum

Engraving of the Colosseum

Nicolas Béatrizet, The Last Judgment

Nicolas Béatrizet, The Last Judgment

Starting with prints from the likes of Andrea Mantegna from the mid 1400s and ending with recent offerings from Chris Ofili, the show is chronologically broad. The early works are full of exquisite detail. I loved Agostino Veneziano’s The Academy of Baccio Bandinelli which, through engraving not only captures the brilliant detail of artists at work in a studio but also the drama of low candlelight with incredible shadows dancing and flickering on the wall behind. I also adored Hendrik Goltzius’s The Pieta, another engraving utilised to maximum effect – the lines and contours of Christ’s muscular body are stunning here. There was also great humour in Hogarth’s Before and After engravings, showing a man ravaged with passionate desires for a woman in one print, and the same man much dismissive once he has had his saucy way with her. 

Agostino Veneziano, The Academy of Baccio Bandinelli

Agostino Veneziano, The Academy of Baccio Bandinelli

Hendrick Goltzius, The Pieta

Hendrick Goltzius, The Pieta

William Hogarth, Before

William Hogarth, Before

William Hogarth, After

William Hogarth, After

But perhaps unsurprisingly for a museum whose finest collection is its impressionist and post impressionist works, my favourites were those emanating from the late 1800s when printmaking as a medium was having a new hayday, and innovations such as lithography were opening up printmaking to more artists. Amongst them was Toulouse-Lautrec whose lithograph of a jokey straddling a fast moving galloping horse was rightly displayed at the centre of the show, and Bonnard, whose whimsical and somewhat mysterious Woman with a Child and dog from the Nannies’ Promenade series was my favourite in show. 

Toulouse Lautrec, The Jockey (1899)

Toulouse Lautrec, The Jockey (1899)

Matisse, Seated Nude Woman with a tulle blouse

Matisse, Seated Nude Woman with a tulle blouse

Pierre Bonnard - The Nannies' Promenade (1897)

Pierre Bonnard – The Nannies’ Promenade (1897)

Gauguin, Auti te Pape

Gauguin, Auti te Pape

But of course I cannot end this brief canter through the Courtauld’s show without mentioning one of the last prints being exhibited – Blond Girl by Lucian Freud. For it was this very etching, and those others held in the Courtauld’s collection, that inspired me to start printing a little over a year ago. And for all of the etchings and woodcuts I have done since, I have Freud and the Courtauld to thank.

Lucian Freud - Blond Gird (detail)

Lucian Freud – Blond Girl (detail)

This brilliant homage to print is on at the Courtauld until 21 September 2014.

Two Mackerels

Fish have always fascinated me. It’s not just how beautiful they look, with their silvery scales and feathered tails, their glassy marble eyes and their silky pink mouths, but they’re delicious too. There is nothing better than some plump fresh fish, simply cooked and eaten with a glass of white wine and a lot of sunshine, preferably in Mediterranean surroundings. And it is largely because I live so far from the Mediterranean but want to recreate that precise moment of bliss that I buy so much fresh fish from my local London fishmongers.

On one recent occasion, I went in wanting sardines, and came out with two mackerels. I had no idea what I was going to do with them, but their beautiful black and silver bodies, with a almost zebra pattern towards the top of their scales so enticed me that I had to buy them. In the end we ended up eating them well seasoned with catalan pan con tomate, but not before I had taken a load of photographs by way of admiration of their beauty.

DSC02019

Two Mackerels (2014 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, etching and aquatint)

Two Mackerels (2014 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, etching and aquatint)

Before long, these photos sewed the seeds of creation in my mind, and when I decided the time was right to start another etching project, I decided the stark simplicity of these two mackerels would make a perfect etched image. And here is the result – etched into Zinc, including the woodgrain which is, in reality, just small scratches onto the plate but which is meant to represent a chopping board upon which the mackerels lie in wait, ready to take centre stage in some culinary feast.

So that’s the etching done. Now for the exhibition. I’m hoping this one will go on show with others this September when I exhibit alongside the East London Printmakers – more details to follow. In the meantime, should you wish to buy one of my Mackerel prints, get in touch through the contact page on my website

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at www.delacy-brown.com

Desert Discovery of a Catalan Cactus

Now that the huge stresses and celebrations of my London solo exhibition of paintings and prints at The Strand Gallery in May have finally started to calm down, and those 42 sold artworks have comfortably found their new homes, I am moving on to a new even more positive period of creativity as I start to work towards new goals and projects. Foremost amongst them is printmaking, not least because in September I will be exhibiting with the East London Printmakers in London Bridge. This means that my paintbrushes are temporarily down, and instead I am spending more and more hours scratching into hard metals, carving into wood, dipping in acids and turning the stiff wheel of a printpress as I continue making new prints for these forthcoming shows.

Readers of The Daily Norm will know that I have been making gradual progress with my printmaking since I started dabbling in this extensive medium over a year ago. Now as well as etching, which has always been my favourite medium in which to work (largely because it enables me to capture all of the detail I love to pack into an artwork), I have also stated working with multi-plate woodcutting which has given me equal pleasure.

Catalan Cactus

Desert Discovery of a Catalan Cactus (2014 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, etching and aquatint)

Desert Discovery of a Catalan Cactus (2014 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, etching and aquatint)

DSC04673_2

But in this next print in my series featuring the Norms, the little white blobs who are at the centre of this blog, I have returned to the medium of etching, here using aquatint for the tone, and zinc as the metal basis from which the image is transferred to paper. This latest print, Desert Discovery of a Catalan Cactus, was inspired by my February trip to Barcelona, and shows the Norms, in an arid dry desert, stumbling upon a cactus which bears a striking resemblance to Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia cathedral.

Illustrating Gaudi’s masterpiece as a plant isn’t too far from the truth either – Gaudi famously drew inspiration from nature in designing his buildings, and here I am simply taking his most famous building back to nature, albeit that the familiar cranes which surround the still incompleted building are still present.

If you would like to purchase a copy of this limited edition print, contact me through my website www.delacy-brown.com.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at www.delacy-brown.com

New Woodcut: Boats in the Porto Santa Lucia, Naples

Introducing my new (and second) woodcut print: Boats in the Porto Santa Lucia. Like my first woodcut completed earlier this year, my second is inspired by the incredible Christmas trip I took with my partner across Italy, from Venice, to Rome and ending up finally in Naples. 

This woodcut was inspired by our first morning in Naples when, with the sun shining a surprisingly summery warmth upon us, we headed down to the city’s Mediterranean port and were bowled over. Of course we’ve all heard of Naples’ bigger industrial port, but just around the coast, in front of the upmarket Santa Lucia region and around the Castel dell’Ovo is a beautiful little marina full of all of the shiny white yachts, fishing boats and other marine paraphernalia you would expect. 

Boats in the Porto Santa Lucia, Naples (2014 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, woodcut (3 plates) printed on fabriano)

Boats in the Porto Santa Lucia, Naples (2014 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, woodcut (3 plates) printed on fabriano)

I was unsurprisingly obsessed by the water there and all of the brightly coloured ripples reflected from the boats and the harbour walls. This woodcut is an attempt to capture them. It’s a multi-plate print which means that a number of plates are cut and combined to introduce different colours into the print. Below are shots showing a print of each coloured plate individually, which combined together really bring the work to life. You can also see the plates set out alongside the inks and rollers in the printmaking studio, as well as a series of prints hanging up to dry – editioning is tiring stuff!

DSC03850 DSC03851DSC03855IMG_8094IMG_8098

This is now my second woodcut and my seventh print since I started printmaking last Spring. I can say without hesitation that I now consider myself to be as enthusiastic a printmaker as a painter and I can’t wait to make more! 

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at www.delacy-brown.com

Nicholas de Lacy-Brown’s new solo exhibition, When (S)pain became the Norm, will be at London’s Strand Gallery from 13 – 18 May 2014. For more details, click here.

London’s homage to print: Part 2 – David Hockney Printmaker

Last week I told you all about the first of two high profile celebrations to printmaking currently being held in London. The first, Renaissance Impressions at the Royal Academy charts the development of woodcut to create all of the depth and powerful contrast of chiaroscuro in the 1500s. The second unveils a whole new side to celebrated contemporary artist, David Hockney, best known for his colourful Los Angeles Swimming Pools and large scale multi-piece canvases of the Yorkshire countryside, but here shown to be as skillful a printmaker as he is a painter, or, in my opinion, more so.

In presenting this brilliant little exhibition, Dulwich Picture Gallery shows Hockney as a subtler artist; without the distractions of his trademark bold colours, this is Hockney the skilled draftsman; without the almost theatre-scenery sized canvases, here we see Hockney as a man of detail, capturing intimate scenes with a personal aspect, and delivering sometimes simple still lives but with all of the energy of those familiar swimming pool scenes.

David Hockney, Lithographic Water Made Of Lines And Crayon (Pool II-B) 1978-80 © David Hockney / Tyler Graphics Ltd

David Hockney, Lithographic Water Made Of Lines And Crayon (Pool II-B) 1978-80
© David Hockney / Tyler Graphics Ltd

David Hockney, Self Portrait, 1954 © David Hockney

David Hockney, Self Portrait, 1954
© David Hockney

David Hockney, Two Boys Aged 23 or 24 from Illustrations For Fourteen Poems from C.P. Cavafy, 1966-67

David Hockney, Two Boys Aged 23 or 24 from Illustrations For Fourteen Poems from C.P. Cavafy, 1966-67

It is abundantly clear, from the first room of the chronologically hung exhibition, right through to the last, that printmaking has been an important and consistent accompaniment to Hockney’s creative process throughout his career. From his first etchings, amusingly poking fun at his fine art degree (I like the etching which was created using his actual fine art diploma, The Diploma (1962)) and taking a new spin on Hogarth’s The Rake’s Progress, pictorially describing Hockney’s own move to, and development in the US, right through to his recent and renowned use of the iPad as a new digital tool for creating print works, Hockney embraced print and all of the possibilities it provided for artistic expression. His main printmaking stints appear to have been in etching (which lends beautifully to the simple linear illustrations for Cavafy’s Fourteen Poems) and lithography (his print version of his famous swimming pool series being a particularly good example), although Hockney also extended into less traditional print methods – his use of a coloured photocopier to gradually build up a complex image was, for example, particularly effective.

But asides from Hockney’s excellent handling of the medium of print, the images themselves make this show a clear sell-out success. In his Cavafy series, Hockney’s prints exude a wonderful, but always polite intimacy which seems to be characteristic of his somewhat reserved but slightly cheeky persona. With their common place objects and models staring straight out from the print, these images appear to welcome the audience into the works. As viewers, we don’t feel like voyeurs, but more like welcome participants; friends joining in on the happy-go-lucky lifestyle Hockney portrays. In his later Mexico works; Hockney gives us a vivid, energetic lithography whose varying angles and stilted perspective appear to pulsate and dance to the rhythm of that hot Latin country, and remind me a little of the stunningly colourful Grand Canyon works he painted in the late 90s.

David Hockney, Views of Hotel Well III, 1984-85 © David Hockney / Tyler Graphics Ltd., Photo Credit: Richard Schmidt

David Hockney, Views of Hotel Well III, 1984-85
© David Hockney / Tyler Graphics Ltd., Photo Credit: Richard Schmidt

David Hockney, Rain on the Studio Window, From My Yorkshire Deluxe Edition, 2009

David Hockney, Rain on the Studio Window, From My Yorkshire Deluxe Edition, 2009

David Hockney, Artist and Model, 1973-74 © David Hockney

David Hockney, Artist and Model, 1973-74
© David Hockney

David Hockney, Lillies, 1971 © David Hockney

David Hockney, Lillies, 1971
© David Hockney

I also found that some of the best works were the simple ones – a vase of cala lilies, with an accurate and precise cross-hatched background contrasting with the purity of the white flower; a superb iPad image of raindrops running down a window which exudes the cosiness of looking out at rainfall while benefitting from the dryness and comfort of home; and portraits of friends, simply posed, looking straight out at the viewer, prompting interaction, welcoming us in.

It is, therefore, a show with something for everyone, but with an overriding central devotion to the versatile, unique art of printmaking.

London’s homage to print: Part 1 – Chiaroscuro woodcuts

Printmaking is seriously in vogue right now. Whether it be etchings, lithography, linocut or woodcut, prints have seen a huge upsurge in popularity in recent years. This is partly down to the financial crash, which for so many middle-income art collectors meant that the 3-figure price-tags attached to prints suddenly became a much more attractive method of collecting quality images. But it’s not just about cost. Printmakings’ return to prominence also recognises the unique quality and character which is inherent in each of the print mediums, whether it be the fine lines of etching, or the watery translucence of lithography.

And as if further confirmation of this renewed popularity were needed, London is currently showing two blockbuster exhibitions which explore the medium of print in all its rich and versatile brilliance: David Hockney: Printmaker, at the Dulwich Picture Gallery (review coming soon!) and at the Royal Academy: Renaissance Impressions – Chiaroscuro Woodcuts.

Hans Burgkmair the Elder, 'St George and the Dragon', c. 1508-10." Chiaroscuro woodcut printed from two blocks, the tone block in beige. 31.9 x 22.5 cm. Collection Georg Baselitz. Photo Albertina, Vienna. Organised by the Royal Academy of Arts, London and the Albertina, Vienn

Hans Burgkmair the Elder, St George and the Dragon, c. 1508-10. Chiaroscuro woodcut printed from two blocks, the tone block in beige. Collection Georg Baselitz. Photo Albertina, Vienna.

Ugo da Carpi, after Raphael, The Miraculous Draught of Fishes, c. 1523-27. Chiaroscuro woodcut printed from three blocks, the tone blocks in red, 23.4 x 25.7 cm. Albertina, Vienna. Photo: Albertina, Vienna

Ugo da Carpi, after Raphael, The Miraculous Draught of Fishes, c. 1523-27. Chiaroscuro woodcut printed from three blocks, the tone blocks in red. Photo: Albertina, Vienna

Ugo da Carpi, after Raphael; Aeneas and Anchises 1518, Chiaroscuro woodcut printed from four tone blocks, in beige and grey 51 x 37.4 cm Collection Georg Baselitz. Photo Albertina, Vienna. Organised by the Royal Academy of Arts, London and the Albertina, Vienn

Ugo da Carpi, after Raphael; Aeneas and Anchises 1518, Chiaroscuro woodcut printed from four tone blocks, in beige and grey. Collection Georg Baselitz. Photo Albertina, Vienna.

Ugo da Carpi - Diogenes (1527)

Ugo da Carpi – Diogenes (1527)

This exhibition couldn’t be more timely for me. I have only recently started dabbling in woodcutting myself, having been inspired to do so by Felix Vallotton’s exhibition in Paris last year. Likewise, I have been fully immersed in Renaissance art of late, not least in seeking inspiration for my on-going Norm Saints collection which drawn on Renaissance religious imagery for its primary inspiration.

It is that same intense religious flavour, together with the grandiose imagery which was born of the Renaissance, which forms a golden thread through the 150 or so masterful woodcuts which the Royal Academy currently have on exhibition. Formed of the collections of the Albertina in Vienna, and the private haul of contemporary artist, Georg Baselitz (you know, the one who paints upside down portraits), this brilliant show brings together a fine set of prints which explore the birth of the chiaroscuro woodcut, a unique use of wood to express the intensification of light and dark.

Hendrick Goltzius, Hercules Killing Cacus, 1588. Chiaroscuro woodcut printed from three blocks, the tone blocks in yellow and green, 41.1 x 33.3 cm. Collection Georg Baselitz. Photo: Albertina, Vienna

Hendrick Goltzius, Hercules Killing Cacus, 1588. Chiaroscuro woodcut printed from three blocks, the tone blocks in yellow and green, 41.1 x 33.3 cm. Collection Georg Baselitz. Photo: Albertina, Vienna

Andrea Andreani, after Giambologna, Rape of a Sabine Woman, 1584, Collection Georg Baselitz. Photo Albertina, Vienna
Albrecht Dürer, Rhinoceros (1515 and c.1620 - the highlights)

Albrecht Dürer, Rhinoceros (1515 and c.1620 – the highlights)

Albrecht Dürer, Ulrich Varnbühler (1522 and c.1620 - the highlights)

Albrecht Dürer, Ulrich Varnbühler (1522 and c.1620 – the highlights)

Ugo da Carpi, after Raphael; Aeneas and Anchises 1518, Chiaroscuro woodcut printed from four tone blocks, in beige and grey 51 x 37.4 cm Collection Georg Baselitz. Photo Albertina, Vienna. Organised by the Royal Academy of Arts, London and the Albertina, Vienn

Ugo da Carpi, after Raphael; Aeneas and Anchises 1518, Chiaroscuro woodcut printed from four tone blocks, in beige and grey 51 x 37.4 cm Collection Georg Baselitz. Photo Albertina, Vienna. Organised by the Royal Academy of Arts, London and the Albertina, Vienn

Hans Sebald Beham, Head of Christ Crowned (1520-1) - woodcut from two blocks, tone block in brown.

Hans Sebald Beham, Head of Christ Crowned (1520-1) – woodcut from two blocks, tone block in brown.

From the Italian word meaning light-dark, chiaroscuro is better known to describe the dark and brooding masterpieces of Italian painter, Caravaggio. Just as Caravaggio is famed for utilising the stark contrast of light and shadow to create paintings packed full of drama and intensity, this woodcut technique, invented in the 1500s by Lucas Cranach the Elder and Hans Burgkmair the Elder, provides the same thrill of three-dimensional realism by using different wood plates to layer up light and shadows. It generally involves one plate which contains all of the darkest details (usually the most linear plate), while another provides an overall mid-tone with white highlights cut into it. The effect is one of dramatic contrasts and naturalistic brilliance, as each of the many prints on show in this exhibition demonstrate.

From the work of those inventors, to the development of the medium, mainly by Italian printmakrs such as Ugo da Carpi and Dmenico Beccafumi, we are treated to a period of creativity in which the medium is expertly utilised to create images which, at the time, must have stunned audiences for all of their realism and depth. But just as they may have stunned 1500s audiences for their apparently illusionistic manifestation of light and shadow, so too do they retain the ability to stun the audiences of today – because in their sheer detail and brilliantly perfect execution, these works are a breath of fresh air in a contemporary world where art is so often comprised of some untidy sploshes on a canvas.

Spectator-Royal-Academy

Renaissance Impressions is on at London’s Royal Academy until 8 June 2014.

Printmaking Progress V: Woodcut Ripples

Having  satisfied myself that I have learnt the basics of etching in both zinc and copper (and having quickly realised that I am probably not all that good at Linocut) my next challenge in my quest to learn the multifaceted skills of printmaking was to learn the art of woodcut. This sudden desire to print images from carvings made in wood was very much inspired by the work of Felix Vallotton, whose superb satirical woodcuts stood out for me way and beyond his paintings at the recent Paris Grand Palais retrospective.

So when I saw a multiplate woodcut course being offered up at my favourite art college, The Art Academy in London Bridge, I jumped at the chance to enrol.

The night before the course began, I wasn’t at all sure what image to portray with my wood. On the one hand I wanted to emulate the moody mysterious social scenarios created by Vallatton, but on the other, I wanted to continue relishing in the fond memories of my recent Italy trip. Nostalgia eventually took precedence and I decided to continue my new experiment in Venetian ripples.

The wooden plates and a first proof

woodcut 2 woodcut 1 woodcut proof

That’s all very well, except that as I was about to discover, woodcut is rather tricky for a newcomer to the medium, and having chosen a photo on which my image would be based, and drawn it onto my wood, I soon found trying to cut the fluid curving lines inherent to watery reflections nigh on impossible to cut. Yet despite a few scratches, a punctured thumb and a clear case of repetitive strain injury in my forefinger, I persevered, and the photos on this blog show both the finished woodcut print, as well as a range of prints taken along the way when I was using just two plates (and therefore two colours) before I added depth to my image with an additional third plate.

The finished print and a detail shot

Ripples on the Rio della Guerra (2014 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, woodcut print on paper)

Ripples on the Rio della Guerra (2014 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, woodcut print on paper)

Ripples DETAIL

Not bad for my first attempt – I love the fact that when you first look at the print, it looks almost like an abstract expression before your mind becomes acquainted with the various darker shapes which make up the underside of the bridge, and the windows of a nearby Venetian house – all seen rippled of course.

Much inspired I’m sure that more woodcuts will follow as I continue my merry journey into the world of printmaking.

Alternative colours and a print run of the final print

red ripple yellow ripple orange ripplephoto

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at www.delacy-brown.com

Printmaking Progress IV – La Flamenca (copper etching)

Regular readers of The Daily Norm will know that I have been dabbling in printmaking in recent months, and in particular etching, inspired by the superb results achieved in the medium by the likes of Goya, Picasso and Lucian Freud. Well having dappled a little in zinc plates (I hesitate to say “mastered” – as my recent disaster when aquatinting a zinc plate was to prove), I decided to move onto a copper plate, which, because of its durability, is the optimum plate to use for a bigger print edition.

Departing from the Norms who feature on my previous etchings, I decided to follow my familiar passion for Spain, and flamenco, recycling the idea I had for a fragmented dancer in Composition No. 8, and this time etching a flamenco dancer with a free-flowing fluid dress making for the major attraction of the plate. In terms of process, the image itself did not involve a whole lot of etching. Rather, the detail came with the aquatinting and soft-ground applied thereafter. Once the initial dancer image was etched into the plate, I then took a benday dot stencil, the likes of which would have been used by Roy Lichtenstein, and applied a series of polka dots across the background of my plate, emulating the popular pattern of flamenco dresses, and adding variety of tone by dipping in acid for different lengths of time.

La Flamenca (copper etching on paper) © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, 2013

La Flamenca (copper etching on paper) © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, 2013

In the lighter areas of the background (kept light through giving them less exposure to acid) I applied an intricate lace pattern using the soft-ground technique. This basically involves painting the plate with a protective liquid ground which is left wet. A piece of lace is then applied on top and the plate sent through the print press. This presses the lace into the soft ground, lifting it off the plate and leaving an impression of the lace in the ground, which is then etched into the metal when exposed to acid. I adore the result, creating a background which now includes both the lace and polka dots so characteristic of flamenco.

The final step then was to print my plate – I did so with a black ink mixed with a warming red to give a real flamenco flavour. I’m really very pleased with the result, so much so that I have decided to make this print a larger edition of 50.

The initial line etching

The initial line etching

Applying the dots onto aquatint

Applying the dots onto aquatint

Applying a lace softground

Applying a lace softground

IMG_5175

Stopping out the figure before final acid dip

Stopping out the figure before final acid dip

The finished plate

The finished plate

The finished print

The finished print

If you would like to buy one of my limited edition prints, they’re available now – in my Etsy store. See you there!

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at www.delacy-brown.com

Printmaking Progress III – Editioning El Marinero

Readers of The Daily Norm may remember that in that optimistic time of Spring, long long ago, I discovered the art of printmaking. Having been inspired to give the medium a go by masters of the craft such as Lucian Freud and the ever dark-minded Spanish great Francisco de Goya, and having dappled at first in a little lino cutting, I very soon fell in love with etching, the technique by which acid is used to “etch” an image into a metal plate, which can then be used to print a whole run of that image (albeit seen back to front – something for which careful planning is required). You’ll be forgiven for thinking that my newfound love of the technique was short lived – after all, I haven’t posted any etchings since May, and have, quite unapologetically, become obsessed with gouache paint on paper which I have pursued relentlessly in the creation of my “Compositions” series.

Well, come the autumn, and with my summer travels, sadly, long behind me, I decided the time was right to re-enter the printmaking studio, not just to start projects afresh, but to finish off the ones I started all those months ago.

I have previously told you about etching the line image onto the metal plate (I used zinc, but other metals can be used and this will affect the number of prints which can eventually be made from the plate), and also about the aquatint process by which tone is added to the plate. The final stage of printmaking is printing and editioning – making sure that every single print is printed identically, so that a closed “edition” can be made, and sold through the aid of a single exhibited example.

The zinc plate with image etched into it

The zinc plate with image etched into it

First print - before the aquatint was applied

First print – before the aquatint was applied

El Marinero during the aquatinting process

El Marinero during the aquatinting process

Editioning is an intricate and time consuming process. You have to cut yourself paper of an identical size; bathe it in water to ensure the paper takes the ink, but dry it before printing to ensure the ink does not run. You have to smear the plate in filthy oil-based ink, and then gradually wipe it off again, leaving the ink remaining only in the lines. You have to clean the edge of the plate to ensure that the embossment of the paper around the plate is kept pristine. And finally, ensuring you do not dirty your paper with your inky-black hands, you have to run the plate, and the paper through the printing press. All this takes about 15 minutes per print, but once you get a system going, it’s surprising how easily the human body can become like a factory process.

I have now spent several sessions in the studio, making editions of the two zinc etchings I made back in May, and the result I want to share with you today is my first ever plate. When you last saw it, it was a line image only, with no aqua tint adding tone. Now the image is aquatinted and complete, printed as a limited edition set of 15 which, by coincidence, are now available on my online shop to buy.

And a nice close up of the image

The finished print

IMG_5025

The print, entitled “El Marinero” shows a sailor Norm holding a fish on a mysterious Mallorcan rocky beach. It’s an enigmatic image, with its empty shores and strange rocky forms, but one which I cherish as being my first dalliance into the world of etching, and inspired by the surreally-shaped coves of Mallorca’s stunning coastline. Now I am on my third and fourth etchings respectively (one in zinc, and one in copper) and I cannot wait to complete those and share them on The Daily Norm.

Details of how to purchase your own strictly limited print of El Marinero can be found on my Etsy shop. As a closed edition of 15, it’s an extremely limited set, and hopefully therefore an attractive art investment for your future, as well as a pleasing little gift for another, or of course, for yourself.