An Experiment in Engraving

And now for something completely different.

“Skull and Orange” – pencil on paper, © Katie Kath 2022.

I’ve recently been intrigued by dry point etching. Specifically, a linocut/etching mashup technique I recently stumbled upon while researching all things printmaking. I’m so intrigued, in fact, that I am going to give it a whirl. Here goes, folks.

Now: a word about this process. Up until now I have posted one completed drawing on the blog every other day or so, and it’s been very good for my artistic practice, to be sure. However, a technique like this will require more time, and more episodic postings because etching and linocut are both tedious and I only work for a few hours or less in the evening.

Honestly, embarking on something like this will also be good for me artistically, as it will get me used to breaking up my art-making process into bite-sized manageable chunks I can look forward to each night. This way, I can feel more confident about taking on bigger and bigger projects. EVERYONE WINS.

Ok, enough of that. Let’s talk process.

So, the first thing to do for an etching is to make a drawing of what the etching will look like. Then, when you are satisfied with your sketch, you place a piece of plexiglass, mylar, or other clear plastic that can be easily scratched into, on top of your drawing and begin the crosshatch your darks. (More on that later.)

So: here is the finished sketch I made of a little still-life I set up on my drafting table. If any of my former students are reading this blog, which I highly doubt they are, they would immediately recognize this skull and maybe even shudder a little at the memory of having to draw it a bazillion times.

But you know, this llama skull is cool. I bought it because it’s fun to draw, and I know I could draw it a bazillion times and probably not get too sick of it. Probably.

Drawing this skull last evening also told me that I definitely need to acquire more animal skulls. (I mean, can you have too many?? The answer is no.) One of my former professors had a cat skull and a horse skull, both of which I often looked upon with envy.

What kind of skull do YOU think should I get next?

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A Wyeth Twist

“Stepping Forth” inspired from “Trodden Weed” by A. Wyeth. – Dark field monoprint on Kozo paper. © Katie Kath 2022. Do not use without permission

A long time ago I was fortunate enough to see a special exhibit on Andrew Wyeth at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and it was AH-MAY-ZING.

They had just about every scrap of painting and drawing the guy ever did, all collated into one, huge, fantastic show. The opening picture, smack in the middle of the wall when you walked in, was “Soaring.” I could almost feel the wind whipping at the feathers of the birds depicted in the surreal landscape, as I felt somewhat sorry for the hundreds (thousands?) of gallery-goers in various museums around the US, sadly staring up at blank frame-shaped patches of wall once holding these beautiful works, now displaying a “temporarily on loan” sign in their place.

Ah, well. C’est la vie. Meanwhile, I feasted my eyes.

Tonight’s monotype print was inspired by one of my favorite Wyeth pieces, a painting entitled, “Trodden Weed.” (Feet modeled after yours truly.)

One of the things I love about Wyeth’s work is how his paintings cannot help but make you feel.

So, I leave you with this question tonight: How does this monotype make you feel?

Lora, Two Ways

“Lora” – trace monotype print, detail added. © Katie Kath 2022. Do not reproduce without permission.

You know how at some fine dining establishments they often have those dishes that are supposedly served “two ways?”

Well, here is my friend, Lora, who now appears on tonight’s blog in two ways!

The below image is a pencil sketch I made in order to create a trace monotype print (like the image from the last post), only this time I used standard Kozo paper (a good idea–the Strathmore was really too thick for it, and I knew that at the time, but I figured what the heck, why not give it a try?) and burnt sienna Akua ink to give the finished product a warmer tone.

“Sketch of Lora” – pencil. © Katie Kath 2022. Do not reproduce without permission.

I drew the sketch during lunch–dodging M’s spaghetti-flinging and meeting his rowdy, medieval tavern-esque demands for more milk–in the hopes that it would save me time on the printmaking end, which it did. Huzzah! This also means an earlier bedtime for me, DOUBLE-HUZZAH!

Until next time, folks, thank you and goodnight.

Tiny Bather

Y’all, I need some sleep.

M. has been waking up at those hours where no matter WHAT you do, you just can’t fall back asleep. (I’m looking at you, 3 and 4 am…) So, in light of this situation, all I’ve got tonight is just a simple, tiny bather, using a not-so-simple method.

There is a second kind of monotype printing process besides the dark field monotype (still my favorite) and I wanted to give it a quick go because why not?

In this type of monoprint, a thin layer of dark ink is rolled onto glass–much like what you do for a dark field–but this time, you delicately lay a sheet of paper down on top of it, practically letting it float on top of the ink. On top of this you can add a sketch, carefully tape it to the paper on top of the ink, and trace the sketch with a drawing implement (preferably a sharpened pencil or pen) bearing down upon the sketch so the paper underneath picks up the ink on the bottom. Peel away, and hopefully, the drawing comes out without too many smudges (or worse yet, just a big black blob).

These types of monoprint are really a pain. But I will say that they do give a very interesting-looking line effect that cannot be replicated by any drawing tool.

A Monday Monotype With Food For Thought

“Yia-Yia’s Cat” – Dark field monotype print. © Katie Kath. Do not reproduce without permission.

I know I do a lot of pieces in black-and-white.

Sometimes I even say to myself, “Seriously? Another black-and-white drawing?”

“Yes. Got a problem?”

There is something I really love about black-and-white. No matter how many color pieces I do, black-and-white is like that one boyfriend who you just keep going back to, not because he’s a sleazy hunk and a cheap date, but rather because he’s a romantic. He’s the boy next door who maybe everyone else failed to notice but you–and every time you come back, golly he just gets cuter.

In fact, a former professor was once singing the praises about the virtues of black-and-white art-making, saying that, “It’s really all you need. All of the visual information you ever need is there.”

I remembered this phrase, interestingly, on the heels of browsing one of my favorite textbooks by Martin Salisbury, where he states (and I paraphrase): “The important thing (about drawing) is whether or not the approach serves the drawing’s purpose.”

So. Let a drawing serve it’s purpose. i.e.: Show only what needs to be shown. Get rid of the weeds. Don’t overly complicate a piece if it shouldn’t be complicated, WHICH INCLUDES not adding color if it isn’t necessary.

I love black-and-white. So there!

Rainy Day Dark Field

“Caught in the Rain” – dark field monotype print. © Katie Kath 2022. Do not use without permission.

Today I was out on an excursion (read: errands) and as I was completing my transaction I watched the outdoors become an increasingly menacing shade of gray. Luckily I managed to load up everything and stuff my son into his car seat just as the first humongous drops were starting to pelt at the windshield.

And then: le déluge.

Frantic shoppers were dashing out of the store in that awkward jog that happens when you realize that splashing around too much will ruin your shoes, yet if you don’t book it pronto you’ll arrive at your car as a drowned rat.

The scene was just screaming to be turned into a dark field print, since these prints lend themselves so beautifully to rough-sketch, textured atmospheres. The final result is from my imagination, but inspired by what I saw from the car in the parking lot.

Here’s Looking At You

Is there a better subject from which to practice monotypes than film noir movie scenes?

Nope, I’m not sure there is.

Among the many things I love in life–including chocolate, fresh bread, a good Gin and Tonic, and cute, chonky little baby thighs–is a classic old film noir (or really any old classic film, for that matter).

A couple of years ago (was it really that long ago?? Alas, I think it was!) I re-watched “Casablanca” for about the umpteenth time. Let me tell you, Bogey never gets old, and neither do his movies. Although he might have smoked like a chimney and drank like a fish and probably had about a million personal issues, he sure could make a movie.

And so, my latest print is inspired from such a movie–in fact, I had such fun that I might make this into a print series. HOW RAD would that be? I could watch my way into a monoprint series!

I think I feel a “Maltese Falcon” viewing coming on…

Here’s looking at you, kid.

Dark Field Part Deux

Oh, dark field monotype*, you are sexy and a bit elusive, which makes you even sexier.

Squirrelly as it can be to work with, I think I might fall in-love with you yet.

It may be just the medicine this gal needs: a drawing technique that is different, somewhat finicky, not very forgiving, and does not lend itself well to detail.

I think all art-makers can easily find themselves wound up details, and–as the saying goes–the devil is in them. I know I am guilty of being too detail-oriented, I try to break myself of it, I’ve tried to break students of it, and I can tell you it’s probably the toughest thing to learn about art: that less is more and often times less is much better.

This time around I kept it smaller and simpler, taking a cue (yet again!) from the impressionists and going with the classic “Bather-inspired” theme. I’m thinking I may make it a series, at this point. At least, it will keep me from having to come up with a new concept each time.

Sunny Days in Monoprint

Tonight I got the Akua ink out and tried something completely new to me–monoprinting! (I have the ink because I usually use it for wood block printing.)

“How hard can it be?” I said to myself.

Answer: very hard.

Now, maybe it’s because it’s so late at night (for me, anyway) or that I am on a time crunch to get some kind of small sketch done–regardless of what it is or how it turns out–in a timely manner about every other day, but I’ve always found subtractive art processes to very difficult. I am very much an additive art gal, and thinking backwards ESPECIALLY after a long day kind of hurts my brain. So please cut this gal some slack.

For those unfamiliar with the monoprinting technique, What you basically have is a plate of clear glass or plastic over white paper that you coat with dark ink and then ERASE in varying degrees with a Q tip and/or rag to bring out your white tones. Blacks can always be made blacker, but whites really can’t be made whiter after pulling a print. The “mono” in monoprint means “one,” which means you get only one print, as opposed to a linoleum or wood block, which can yield as many prints as you can stand to do.

I wonder what the gal in my picture is thinking. Any ideas?