by maggie

Printing hasn’t been gaining particularly smoothly recently and the frustrations have been piling up on a number of different levels. Here’s a look at two projects that haven’t gone strictly according to plan.

Firstly; I managed to give the window plates a proper varnish, which should solve the dark glass problems, but other problems cropped up when I printed with both plates.


Sometimes little things have big ramifications, which might be down to laziness, ignorance or miscalculation. Although I used the same green ink as last summers prints I wiped it with the only scrim I had to hand (which was covered in black ink… )so we have a mid summer tree rather than a lurid sprung spring tree.

I still haven’t found the appropriate roll of tape I wanted to use to make the near fence black – a king of narrow gauge gaffer tape. Then there’s the far fence which doesn’t work at all. I had a cunning plan (the worst sort) about how to get the effect I wanted, but it hasn’t worked (different inks – i think). So that has to be rethought and remade.

I also realise that I wasn’t as careful as I had imaged with the registration and I had anticipated. This shows where the green of the tree/lawn bleed into the interior of the room, especially the column between the windows; which is wider because of last minute window frames as well. So I have either to make the column narrower or scraped off the carborundum and glue foliage. What a choice.

So this  project is being put on hold until I’ve solved some or all of those problem.

Then, secondly, there’s the ‘Llyn Padarn’. The poor plate, it feels like I’ve been working on this image for ever. But it’s only been eighteen months, more off than on. Of course if I knew then what know now I woulden’t have started from there at all. I think I’d have drawn the whole image in soft ground.

I took the plate home over the holiday to work line and shading into a hard ground to darken some areas. 20 mins in 7:1 didn’t really touch the original hard ground lines of 1 hr in 12:1 and the thinness of the hard ground over some of the more esoteric areas of the plate, messed them up. The stopping out solution lifted the ground and I didn’t aply it thickly enough. I always think it’s a much more finessed tool than it turns out to be. Any way.

Using Bread and Butter paper for the proofs turned out to be another mistake. Here’s a selection at the different degrees of wipe to get the best image.


This scan is actually lighter and has more detail than as apparent on the print.


This print has had a more careful wipe (i didn’t do it) and you can see areas that need more clarity or more depth, as it now all looks a bit vague.

You can either get the shadows dark or the bubbly sky all bubbly, but not both. Damn. So it’s time to take the plate home to get at a really go look at it. How the misty lights are doing how the clouded hill?

Using photocopies of the first stage I’ve worked back into the image. What goes were? what tonal values do each part have. Is that a ridge or a valley?



i’m having third thoughts about the placement of the bats.

Thus a plan, before an other aquatint, a bit of burnishing. Then stoping out – all of the sky excapt the dark bat, and lots of the tree and the foreground. I need to sort out the space between the tree and the border, make the fields in the mid ground dark again and rearrange the geography around the quarries above the hydro plant.

Then maybe it’ll all come together.

As I was writing this I was thinking should I have taken reference photo’s the morning after i did the original drawing. However, I wasn’t planning on turning anything into a print at the time, and the idea that i should keep reference for every sketch incase I decide to take it further fills me with dread. While I am drawing I do my best to make a faithful reproduction of what I see as possible, but once I walk away the image becomes it’s own reality  – working from photos is a completely different kettle of fish.

Any way watch this space for the next exciting instalment of – oops, i didn’t mean to do that.