This week I experimented with hard and soft ground. Here is “The Absinthe Table”, etching on copper plate.
It’s based on a sketch I made at the Hotel de France, Vaud, Switzerland. They have a collection of absinthes for tasting.
Walking on the way to the print studio I decided I would do two colours. Furthermore, I thought that the second colour, with black, should be green, as absinthe is sometimes called the “la fée verte”. Rooting about in the leftovers box at the Print Studio I found some green ink.
The long process of making the plates took all morning. I watched the rain fall into the canal. Perhaps some of this atmosphere went into the print. Making a two-colour print means:
- placing the colour-ink plate on the press.
- roll over until the plate is out but the paper is trapped under the press roller
- lift the press blankets and remove the plate without shifting the paper or the template
- get the black-inked plate
- put that plate very carefully in the same place on the template
- replace the press blankets and roll back over
The potential for error is great. The most obvious error is to put the second plate in up-side-down.
I printed the plates in the afternoon. The error that happened first time round was that the green ink didn’t print at all. Not a dot. Examining the tube very carefully, reading the writing between the splodges on the tube, I saw that it was “block-printing ink”. Lesson: block printing ink does not work for etching/intaglio process. OK.
This is why the background is brown, using the Charbonnel etching ink which I had brought with me. This is very reliable, but is brown not green.
Here is the single colour black, one plate in hard and soft ground.
Here is an out-take, the very first print of this series. The bottles are in hard-ground only, and the registration is totally off. But perhaps that weird dislocation is appropriate for a picture of an absinthe table.
Here’s a sketch of the absinthe table from February this year:
This is the church.
Drawn and coloured on location, about 1 degree C. That’s snow in the foreground.
Then later, it was colder.
Hotel de France, drawn from the street, at minus 6 degrees C. This took two attempts. I had to retreat to the hotel after about 10 minutes to warm up, then I went out again and finished the picture. Colour completed in the hotel restaurant.
Here are some other sketches from the trip.
Absinthe in the Hotel de France
View from the breakfast room – a postcard, photographed after it’s been through the post.
Window in the house opposite the train station
People waiting at Geneva airport
I have drawn at Sainte-Croix before:
View from a Swiss Hotel
Some sketches of hotel tableware
Snow in Sainte-Croix
It was raining in Switzerland. Here is a sketch I did looking out of the window of the Hôtel de France, Sainte-Croix, Vaud. The building with the flags is the Hotel de Ville or town hall.
I was quite pleased with the hedge, which only took a few seconds to paint.
Here’s the view:
Earlier, I’d tried to paint outdoors.
The painting got wet. But perhaps that adds atmosphere.
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.
Recently, inspired by the work of Nick Stewart https://quinkandbleach.wordpress.com, I have been trying non-waterproof ink.
Here are four sketches, done in the Hôtel de France, Sainte-Croix, Switzerland. Click an image to enlarge.
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.
Snowfield behind the church. Painted with melted snow as I forgot to bring water. All done standing up as everything was wet and cold. Snow blew from the roof of the church and fell on the picture.
The Temple of Sainte-Croix, Protestant Church. Constructed 1747 on the ruins of a previous building destroyed by fire in 1744. Drawn on location and coloured at the Hotel de France. About 20 min to draw, standing in the road.