Tuesday, October 14, 2014

More hand coloured polymer plate etching

etching with hand colouring
B. Holden 2014 ©

In my last post I featured a photo I had taken of a pair of Bobcats and exposed as a grayscale inkjet transparency positive onto a polymer plate. The plate was developed, the surface hardened permanently, had ink wiped onto it's surface and was printed into a white cotton rag paper.
I had some time this past weekend to sit down and apply hand colouring into the print. This was accomplished using a bit of water thinned Daler-Rowney liquid acrylic inks and brush in layers of washes. I am pleased with the overall results. It is pretty close to the original colour photo.

Bee and Fireweed 
etching with hand colour
B. Holden  2014 ©

The photo above is a small polymer plate etching printed on rag paper that has been hand coloured. It is a close up study of a honey bee on the blossom of Fireweed, a plant that is quite common here in Northwestern Ontario along roadsides and in fields from mid July until Sept.
This began as a pen and ink sketch made onto wet media Duralar plastic film. I added washes of black tusche ink for a little tonal variation.
The plate was pre-exposed to an aquatint screen and then I lay the positive over top and exposed it for an equal amount of time. I developed the plate in a tray a water and then hardened the plate surface with UV. The photos below show the positive artwork on film and the resulting print made using Caligo carbon black safewash etching ink onto Maidstone 250 gm cotton rag paper.
I taped the print to a thin mdf board with gum adhesive butchers tape.  Colour was added using washes of several Windsor-Newton watercolours followed by washes of Daler-Rowney acrylic inks.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Photo based polymer plate etching - small format

Single colour (black ink) print on white rag paper. Plate size is 8.25 x 10 cm (3.25 x 4 inches).                     Hand colouring will be added later to the image

I am currently translating a handful of photographs that I have taken over the past couple of years to intaglio prints on paper. This is part of my Small Wonders of the Boreal series of studies that examine flora and fauna of the region.

I am adapting the photos onto a thin light sensitive solar plates. I have cut the plates to a variety of small rectangles and squares that fall into the classification of miniature. First thing I do is resize my original photos (stored digitally on my pc) and using photo editing software convert this to grayscale. This is then printed onto a high quality inkjet transparency sheet using the grayscale (black ink only) setting and at 600 dpi. I call this transparency in grayscale a positive. The concept is simple. The ink printed from the inkjet printer creates opaque areas on the clear film. These will block out UV light and no chemical reaction will occur in the light sensitive polymer where it cannot penetrate. The polymer will be able to be removed from these areas using water and some scrubbing.

the original colour photo that I took of a pair of Bobcats in the winter snow

The plate has a very fine aquatint screen pre-exposed for a couple of minutes to the surface using an ultraviolet light source (ie. sunlight or articficially created from aquarium lighting). This is followed by a 3 min. exposure of the positive. The plate is developed using lukewarm water in a pan and gentle scrubbing with a soft bristle toothbrush. I then re-expose the plate to the UV light for about 10 min to harden the polymer and make it permanent.

I applied Caligo safewash carbon black to the plate and wiped it back with a bundle of tartalan fabric. Then I polished the surface using yellow pages from an old phone book. A piece of Canson Ed. 250 gm white rag was presoaked and blotted. The inked plate was printed onto the paper using my small hand turned etching press.

The next step will be to apply colouring into the print once the ink has fully dried (perhaps a week from now).

Monday, September 15, 2014

New work in process

acrylic ink on Maidstone 270 gm rag
4 colour stencils
edition of 20

I haven't posted since late June and most of the posts from earlier this year focused on my role as an art educator in the schools. The summer saw me occupied working on small print based studies that have been funded through an Ontario Arts Council Northern arts grant for new work. My series of around 20 studies will focus on the flora and fauna found in the region of the province of Ontario where I reside. The working title at the moment for the series is Small Wonders of the Boreal. All work falls within the classification of miniature artwork due to the size restriction. My goal is to present these works to the public in 2015 in the form of exhibition. A few of the studies also relate to the concept of 
species at risk.

Last week I spent a good deal of time working on several small serigraph (screen prints). This occurred outside of my home studio. I was asked to house/pet sit for a friend who owns a year round residence on a remote wilderness lake outside the city of Thunder Bay. The setting was quite beautiful and was the perfect location to inspire and motivate my creativity. The absence of everyday urban noises of traffic, people and planes overhead was very welcome and put me in a totally different headspace. 

The challenge for me was to find a space in her home where I could set up shop and be able to screen print.
I first created a portable screen printing surface complete with hinges, frames, screen material, squeegees, inks, papers and all other supplies one would need to create silkscreen imagery. I decided to use film and special latex opaque black ink as the basis for creating my stencils. Fine microfilament screen material was stretched across several wood frames and light sensitive diazo photo emulsion was flooded coated on to them. They were allowed to dry in a dark place. The positives were set on top and exposed to a light source. I developed the open stencils by spraying the screens with a fine jet of water post-exposure. 
I printed the imagery by creating a registration base for the paper and positioning of each screen to register with this base. Acrylic based screen printing inks were used. Several stencils were used and inks were printed starting from the lightest colour to the darkest. 
Editions have been kept small for this series due to budget for all of the materials I have required but also the amount of labour involved for each print application I am using.

Below is the process I have chronicled for one of the serigraph studies titled Pileated. It hopefully gives an idea of how the final image came about.

photo that I took earlier this winter in my backyard. 
A red headed pileated woodpecker on the suet feeder. Using artistic license I adapted a sketch from this photo and placed the bird onto the weathered trunk of a tree I spotted on a morning walk. It just made more sense to have the print reflect a more natural setting.

above is the tree and background sketch I made in ink on acetate using a rapidograph technical pen. you will notice that I have made little plus sign registration marks on the corners. These help to position the positive on top of the screen after it is coated with the photo sensitive emulsion. Registration is a key factor for all aspects of the process.

the clear film and opaque black ink positive for the bird and texture of the bark on the tree trunk. This would be the second last stencil (in this case the black ink.)

here is an early progress proof. I decided the reddish brown ink wasn't to my liking. I altered this to a colour of ink more akin to clay and what I think looked more believable.

The makeshift print studio. I clamped the screen base onto a dresser in an entry porch. The mdf board worked well. The height off the floor and having the board extend out beyond the top of the dresser making it ideal. You will notice the space is used for storage and housing a few pet facilities. The room had good indirect natural light through large windows. I strung up twine across the room to use for clipping the print paper onto to dry inbetween colour applications.

3 colours at this point had been printed

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Elementary School Art - More drypoint mix media


I just completed a project with another grade five class at St. Martin elementary school that explored drypoint and watercolour (mix media). The theme explored was ancient civilizations.
Students used clear acrylic styrene plates to scratch in their sketches. These had Caligo safe wash etching ink wiped into the lines and using my small table top etching press were printed into 270 gm Maidstone rag paper. After about a drying period of 1 week watercolour was painted into the black and white prints to add in a colour element. Below are photos highlighting the paint application and a few of the black and white prints on boards before colour application.












applying colour

print on paper in black and white etching ink

beginning process of colour application



Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Elementary School Art - Canadian Symbols - Watercolour paintings Grade 5

totem study in landscape

The results of several visits I made during the months of April and May to a grade 5 class at St. Martin Jr. Catholic Elementary school in Thunder Bay. The theme being explored in the paintings is Canadian Symbols.
Students first researched to acquire images which they then translated into pencil sketches. These were transferred onto the 140 lb cold press cotton rag paper that was taped down onto core-plast boards.
They were shown examples of paint application and a few watercolour techniques that included wet into wet, dry brush, bleeding, softening edges, removing paint using sponges and application of highlights and finer details into dried painted areas. The project used Reeves student grade tube watercolours and 2 sizes of synthetic sable brushes.


Maple tree

ice hockey


Mounted Police


Parliament buildings Ottawa

 CN tower Toronto


Black bear

Orca pod


Beaver lodge

Grizzly Bear and salmon

inukshuk and northern lights