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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

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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