Today I started thinking about my series of 50 portrait sculptures for the first time in several months. I still have yet to fully resolve the final format, and I consider the series to be unfinished for this reason. I found myself at an impasse in terms of determining the final format, as I couldn’t come up with an option that I was excited about. After I finished the beeswax casting stage, I took a break from this series temporarily.
At open studios this past weekend, I was talking to a colleague and she expressed her personal distaste for digital work, saying that she hated the fact that digital art could be so easily mass produced, and how digital work lacked the mark of the artist’s hand. After thinking about our conversation, it occurred to me that perhaps the photographs I shot of the beeswax sculptures are actually not the final image. Maybe they’re simply reference photographs for something else. I started thinking about mezzotint, a technique that I dabbled in very briefly in graduate school. (see a mezzotint I did from 2003 below) It seems that the faces emerging out of darkness would be perfectly suited to mezzotint, and it certainly would be wonderful to find a reason to return to printmaking.
The idea of making a series of fifty mezzotints based on the photographs of the beeswax sculptures really excites me, but I’m hugely intimidated by both my lack of experience and the practicalities of making mezzotints. Rocking the plate is so insanely slow and tedious, and pre-rocked plates are absurdly expensive. (a 7″ x 11″ plate costs $120!) It’s also very difficult to work large, so I would be vastly limited in terms of the scale I could work at. I really want to at least try one, just to see what I can get out of it. Who knows, maybe it won’t get the results I’m looking for at all, in which case I can at least say I tried it and move on.