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Updated: Apr 25, 2022

I mostly worked on the DJCAD etching this week. I had to be more meticulous this time since, as I’m depicting a piece of architecture, any bleeding of the the stopper would be far more noticeable. The large blocks of shapes also made it a bit easier though - I would’ve had far harder a time depicting an older piece of architecture, for instance.

I went for a slightly more graphic look, by outlining the edges as opposed to crosshatching all the way to them. I also decided to outline with multiple strokes, which gave it a slightly cartoony feel. This reminded me of when I used to make cartoons when I was younger, where I would draw sharp edges in pencil using a ruler then freehand over the top in pen. The etching process is quite similar to that, as you can transfer the sketch using carbon paper before actually making your mark. I’m quite fond of the “wobbliness” I ended up getting with these kinds of line.

The process mostly went smoothly, though I finally made the cardinal mistake of forgetting to flip the image before transferring it to the plate….. I realised halfway through making the lines luckily, before I had etched anything, but that set me back the good part of a day….. You live and you learn I guess (I hope….).

I finished the aquatinting so, beside a few parts I want to tweak using burnishing I only have the sky left. I would quite like to utilise a sugar lift, which is a form of aquatinting in which you leave sugary water to dry over a layer of ground, the apply boiling water to lift the ground where the crystals have formed. The resulting effect is quite painterly and abstract. It's also quite unpredictable, which I think will give some more energy to the piece. Here are some of examples of what other people have done using the technique.

This week, I started an etching of DJCAD. I chose the subject matter for my Dad’s birthday, as he did his postgrad at the college back in the day. But I was also interested in depicting more buildings in my work, and etching seemed liked a good medium to depict the large swathes of tone found in the structure of buildings. In a way, it’s similar to how the snow scenes I first depicted lend themselves to etching, in how they have large areas of relative tonal consistency. This makes it a lot easier to block in different parts of the image when aquatinting.

With my first two etchings, I chose to trace the initial sketch from photographs using carbon paper (or from one of my paintings in the etching of Overlooking Town, Snowfall) so as to focus more on the etching itself and get used to the medium. I would say that’s cheating a bit though, and a bit of a waste of time as I’m not training my eye as much, so now that I’m more settled I want to work from drawings, which I then trace onto the plate. Drawing freehand onto the plate seems very difficult, though this might be something I try in the future on some of scraps of metal the Printing Workshop has lying around.

I've been looking at the work of Dutch Golden Age artist Hercules Segers. I appreciate his paintings but I particularly enjoy his etchings. The various textures give a lot of life to the pieces and his compositions are striking. I also feel inspired by the various experimentations he does with the prints - treatments of the paper, rubbing away of elements, use of watercolour in certain parts to make them stand out... There's a great book in the library which shows the various versions he would print of his etchings.

I went to see a couple films at the DCA this week. This is something I would like to get into more, as it’s both fun and a good way to research visual material.

1. Eye of the Storm by Anthony Baxter

The first film I watched was the documentary “Eye of the Storm” by Anthony Baxter which follows Scottish landscape painter James Morrison at the end of his life, as he looks back at his art career. The film was a good historical account, giving a broad overview of the artist’s life and relation to other artists, most notably Joan Eardley. I hardly knew anything about him, besides going to his exhibition at the McManus in 2019, and I came out more aware of his place in 20th century Scottish art. I felt that the portrayal of Morrison’s physical ailments was quite touching and was inspired by how he adapted to them in his artistic practice.

On the other hand, I found the music to be overly sentimental and even distractingly grand at times, especially during the first half of the film. The film did a good job at humanising Morrison, so I don’t understand why they went for such a transcendental score.

Overall, the film was a informative and humanising, despite some cheesy moments. It was a great introduction to what motivated the painter throughout his life. Here are some of my favourite Morrison paintings, I especially love how rich the tones are in his skies.

2. Memoria by Apichatpong Weerasethaku

The second film I watched was Memoria by Apichatpong Weerasethaku. Here, we follow Jessica, a British woman working in Colombia, as she struggles with a reoccurring noise resonating in her head and memory loss. The film was challenging in its slow pace and minimal storyline. It did an excellent job at conveying a type of the mundane eeriness of memory loss. Jessica’s neurological symptoms creep in much like in a Lynch film, but end up playing out far more subtly. This was supported by Swinton’s excellent performance, which allows us to empathise with a character we hardly know anything about.

I really enjoyed the first half of the film, which takes place in Bogotá, and did a really good job at revealing what Jessica is experiencing in a non-linear fashion. The second half was unfortunately mostly lost on me, in the way it jarringly introduced the supernatural storyline. I’m not necessarily against this being a sci-fi film, but I thought it those themes could’ve been introduced far more gradually as it suddenly felt like we switched genres.

Also some of the shots were really beautiful.

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