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Soft Ground Etching with Baldwin Intaglio Ground

This is another post where I talk about my own research into how to obtain the best results from non-toxic etching materials -- specifically, the Baldwin Intaglio Ground. This is a form of etching resist developed by printmaker Andrew Baldwin, from the UK, as a non-toxic alternative to the nasty chemicals contained in traditional hard ground and soft ground resists. It comes in a tube, and when you squeeze some out onto an inking slab it looks like etching ink. You roll it onto the copper plate with a brayer, as if you were inking a relief block, in contrast to the traditional hard grounds, which are either melted onto the plate or poured on as a liquid hard ground. Applying the BIG to make a hard ground is relatively easy. Using it as a soft ground can be quite tricky, and it has taken me many tries and many failures to achieve a satisfactory etch.

The main problem, unfortunately, is the lack of specific instructions in preparing the BIG soft ground. Andrew Baldwin has some excellen…
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Me Talking About Alexander Calder

In the first years of this blog, in 2010-2011, I created a series of 100 short illustrated talks on art that I called Meditations on Art. There is a page on this blog linking to a complete playlist. I remember, about a year after I completed the series, checking in via YouTube and seeing that one of them had passed 1,000 views. An insignificant number compared to your average viral cat video, of course, but considering I made these little videos mostly for my own amusement, it still amazed me that one of them would get 1,000 clicks (whether they were purposeful or accidental).

Well, I just looked at the stats again, and I am amazed to find that one of these videos, the Meditation on Alexander Calder, has now surpassed 18,000 views. Here it is:


Student Work

I've been busy teaching recently, with four classes a week keeping me occupied. Here are some images by participants in the classes: linocuts, etchings, handmade books, and drawings.





Gauguin the Alchemist

When I read a biography of Paul Gauguin a few years ago, one of the many stories that stayed with me was from his time in Tahiti in the late 1890s. A legend has grown up that Gauguin was a sympathetic traveller to the Pacific islands, paying respect to the cultural traditions of the people who lived there even as he borrowed their iconography and symbols for his paintings. The biography related that he shacked up with a teenage girl, in a relationship that looks uncomfortably like a modern-day sex tourist's in places like Thailand and Cambodia. And in terms of his art, this is the kicker: apparently there was a celebrated old indigenous artist living quite close to Gauguin, but the Frenchman never once visited him or showed the slightest interest in seeing what the art produced by real "natives" might actually look like.

I'm not one to hold an artist's biography against him/her when I consider their work (see my last blog post), and I don't really dislike Ga…

Georg Baselitz: Hero or Goat?

Baselitz is a German artist who is in his seventies. I got to know his work about twenty years ago, and the photo above is from a book about his work that I bought back then. He began painting images upside down in the 1980s or thereabouts, and that's been the well he's gone back to ever since. Whether he's painting/sculpting/printmaking the right way up or the wrong way up, his style is derived from German Expressionism, all violent, crude brushmarks and clashing colour harmonies. His reasoning for painting things upside down, he has said, is that it forces him to think harder about what he's looking at it and how to render it. A few years ago, he gave an interview in which he said that there are no good women artists, and that women could never be great artists. Quite rightly, this caused a furor in the art world, with calls for his work to be boycotted because of his sexism. I have to say, I'm not entirely convinced that that's the right move. I mean, I pul…

New Blog Devoted to the Graphic Novel

A few weeks ago, I taught a weekend workshop in how to set up a blog, and then how to refine or reinvigorate it. One of the participants in that class, Jessica Baldanzi, has sent me a link to her new blog (actually a revival of an older blog). I'm recommending it both because the design is really nice, and it's also on a subject (the graphic novel) that has a wide appeal.



Here is a link to Jessica's blog, Commons Comics.

ArtSpace8 Exhibition at The Art Center, Highland Park

I went to the Highland Park art center last week to speak with the director about the new position I am taking there, as Master Instructor in Printmaking. The center is a handsome building near the center of this affluent north shore town, with classrooms in the lower ground floor, and two exhibition spaces on the main floor. Currently there is an exhibition of high quality paintings in the bigger of the two spaces:


My favourite one was by Krista Harris. Tight organization of space, balance between drawing and colours:

I also like this one by Erick Sanchez. It's like an Anselm Kiefer extravaganza but with birds rather than snakes:

And this painting, by Shar Coulson. The different kinds of brushmarks and textures don't come across well in my photo, though you get the sense of her feeling for colour harmony: