First Mezzotint

Studio View

My pre-rocked mezzotint plate arrived from Graphic Chemical two days ago. I was really excited about getting to work on the plate. I tried to forget that I was working on a 4″ x 5″ plate that cost $35!  I started out very lightly, sketching in a basic outline with a pencil on the surface of the rocked ground.  The ground seemed very fine, so I was very conservative when I started scraping and burnishing into the surface of the plate. Since I can’t add blacks back into the image, I figured that it’s better to scrape less, print a proof, and then see how far the image went.

Studio View

It’s been fun assembling all of the various supplies that I need to print, many of the supplies have been sitting around, unused for many years now. I’m going to print on my tiny printing press that I bought back in 1999 when I used to make drypoints in my apartment living room. I’m using blotters that I purchased back in 2008, Rives BFK paper that has been sitting in my closet for several years, and old cans of Graphic Chemical Renaissance Black. I have an obsession with Renaissance Black, it’s a black ink that has a lot of burnt umber mixed into it, so it has a warmth to it that I just love. That combined with the velvety blacks of mezzotint should be an amazing combination.

I always get really nervous before I print the first proof.  You inherently build all of these expectations of what you think the image will look like based on the plate. Sometimes the proof lives up to that, and other times it’s just completely different and not what you expected at all. I was pleased to see upon printing the first proof that the image was still quite dark, which means that my conservative approach to scraping worked well.

First State

I felt much more confident being more aggressive with my scraping after seeing how the first proof turned out. The second state that you see below was better in terms of brightening certain passages, but still has a ways to go in terms of activating some of the other areas. What do you think of these results? Should I move forward and commit myself to a series of mezzotints? Do you see potential here?  Or do I drop this and do something else?

Second State


5 thoughts on “First Mezzotint

  1. I would guess you could do a charcoal drawing in the reverse and see how light you would like to get. The sense of light and the face emergin from the depths is really beautiful in the second print, however i thought the first print was beautifully mysterious.
    I there a way to email you to an address and not leave a message on the message board?Thanks

  2. I agree with Ezradog, I think the effect of the first print was more intriguing to me. The emotion the facial expression exudes is definitely a testament to your skill though! Such a hard medium but it would be an amazing technique to learn

  3. Hi Clara, I agree that the first one is actually more mysterious. There is a sense of intrigue within that piece, but without looking at the first one your second has a depth that the first one doesn’t have and I absolutely love the second one. I think you could take and do something with both images, obviously something different but both images are two separate pieces of work from what I can see. Or at least they could be presented that way.
    I also believe that this would be an excellent technique to learn, I am glad I came across this because now I may look into it myself.
    Good luck to you and to your projects.

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