Cement Factory - 3 Plate Etching with Aquatint - 2010 - 14 " x19 " - Edition 30 - $900

Here's the first of two color etchings I made in late 2010/ early 2011. This started as a drawing, pictured below, that I did outside in Gloucester MA along the MBTA commuter rail tracks. The drawing (22" x 30") was executed on toned paper with a combination of a soft graphite pencil and white charcoal:

After finishing the drawing, my immediate plan was to begin an etching, but I was curious if the sort of "chiaroscuro" style in which the drawing was executed could be translated to the etching method. I decided to break with my tradition and attempt a multi-plate, "color" etching.

The initial plan was to develop two plates - one to print black and one to print white, which would be printed on a midtone paper, creating an effect along the same lines as the drawing. Rather quickly, however, I found that the toned paper I'd selected yielded unsatisfying results. The prints were washed out and dull. In addition, I found the paper itself to be ugly, a drab color somewhere in between warm and cold that didn't particularly compliment the imagery.

My remedy was to return to the same type of white paper I worked with on all my prints at the time (Murillo) and add a third plate to print the background tone. The tone plate is inked in relief and prints a color field that serves the same function as the colored paper. The printed tone also has some interesting effects on the inks printed over it, especially the white ink which becomes a little subtler and shifts in color considerably. The registration is also very challenging and slight shifts in plate alignment, along with varying background colors, lead to sometimes welcome and sometimes disastrous changes in the final effect.

The pictured impression is my favorite color scheme I printed, but I pulled at least 8 different versions employing various background colors of different tones and shades. The final edition is variable and composed of several different versions, each achieving a different end result.

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