I continue to work on my “Towers Project”. The idea is to document the towers of Finsbury, Islington and Camden, or at least the ones I can see from my window.
I did a “Skyline” previously which you can see on this link.
Here are two smaller etchings, Towers East and Towers West, both 10.5cm by 15cm. I finished Towers West yesterday.
These two together form a panorama. I used Towers East in a Chine Collé course. See this link.
The two prominent towers at the front are part of a Peabody Estate, the “Roscoe Estate” on Roscoe Street. The one on the left is “Peabody Tower” and the one on the right is “St Mary’s Tower”. The low house at the very front on the left is Fortune House, on Fortune Street. I have drawn Peabody Tower in an urban sketch, see this link.
These etchings are aquatint on copper. Here is work in progress on “Towers West”.
Drawing “Towers West” on hard ground using an etching spike.
“Towers West” print: hard ground etching
I drew the picture in hard ground using an etching spike, then etched it in acid called “Edinburgh Etch” for 20minutes. The resulting print is shown above on the right.
Then I put resin dust, called Aquatint, on the plate, and set it with a gas burner. I paint varnish on top of the Aquatint, to make the shapes, then dip in acid, then paint more, then dip. Towers West is 6 dips. The sky is a technique called “spit bite”: I just paint the acid on, wait 20 seconds, and wash it off.
I have been experimenting with pen and ink. Previously, I have used waterproof ink, with watercolour on top. This “pen and wash” technique depends on the ink staying where it’s put. See, for example, the urban sketch on this link.
They are all done using only Robert Oster Signature Fountain Pen Ink, colour: Black Velvet. This ink has the property that is produces a chromatograph effect, blue and pink, as it runs and dilutes with water. See, for example, the left hand side of the “wineglass” drawing, where you see black, blue and pink.
I’m using a dip pen: the Pensive Pens Serendipity dip pen.
All of this is quite a challenge to accomplish, especially as the pictures were done in a Swiss dining room, on white tablecloths. No ink drops contaminated the pristine environment. But I had to be very careful.
Here is the corner of Catte Street. On the left is the Kings Arms, a Youngs pub. The marvellous turret on the right is part of the Oxford Martin School. This building was originally the “Indian Institute”. It was designed by Basil Champneys in 1884. The weathercock is an elephant.
It now houses the Oxford Martin School.
“The School is a unique, interdisciplinary research initiative addressing key global future challenges….A key aim of the School is to mitigate the most pressing risks and realise exciting new opportunities of the 21st century. With interdisciplinary teams of researchers from across the university, the School is working on the frontiers of knowledge in four broad areas: health and medicine; energy and environment; technology and society; and ethics and governance. Aiming to have an impact beyond academia, the School also develops wide-ranging initiatives, intellectual programmes and public events to engage with national and international policymakers, business, students and the general public.”[LinkedIn]
On the way back from the lecture I sketched this domed building.
This is Rhodes House. It houses the Rhodes Trust, The Mandela Rhodes Foundation, and the Atlantic Institute, according to the notice on the door.
Both pictures took about an hour. The first one was sketched from the steps of the Weston Library, about 50 mins. By the time I’d finished the pen sketch, the light had gone. So I finished the colouring in my room in LMH that evening. The light in the top right hand corner is not some amazing watercolour technique, but the light from the small and very bright desk light.
The one of Rhodes House I sketched standing up leaning on Inorganic Chemistry. I coloured it sitting down on the tiled pavement, on a copy of the Economist.
Here is a gallery of prints I made yesterday, experimenting with a technique called “Chine Collé” – thin paper glued. The idea is to introduce colour, by using a thin piece of paper which is sandwiched between the printing paper (white) and the inked copper plate.
This was a workshop led by Damien Grist at East London Printmakers. I used plates I’d made previously.
My favourite print is this one, based on my “Towers East” plate:
Here are other examples. Each print is unique.
Here’s what I learned:
The glue that’s used to fasten the thin paper is wallpaper paste. This is wet, and allows the thin paper to shrink as the assembly dries. It also contains fungicides. Traditionally, Japanese printmakers use rice glue.
The thin paper doesn’t take the ink as well as the white print paper. So sometimes the image is disrupted.
This is a fast technique for adding colour. And it’s fun: the result is a bit of a surprise.
Japanese printmakers use “Gampi” paper for Chine Collé. Tissue paper is an alternative. Newsprint works quite well, and also takes the black ink well.