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Sleeps and Leaps: Progress of an Etching

I've been working on this etching for some months. It was started in the white heat of an MA exhibition deadline in May, and got to an interesting stage just in time to be photographed for my online show which you can see here: - then it was retired to a shelf 'for thinking about'. Post-show collapse and homeschooling preoccupations took over. Uncertainty reigned. The trouble was that the initial etch, made from a monotype transferred to the copper plate as a resist to the mordant (ferric chloride), was so pleasing that it was hard to see what to do next. I had to detach myself from that fascinating result to attend to the image itself. This always takes time, and of course the time is mixed with fear...the fear of losing the image, of falling off the tightrope into an inelegant tangle. But it can't stay paused forever. Something must be done, or it will never be finished, and who better to do it than you? After an initial skirmish which added some drawing but deleted a lot more, it sat for a while longer in a depresssed state until I decided to chance using soft ground this time, non-drying, permeable, unpredictable, and beautiful, and get drawing...protect the back of the plate...more sitting...adding more fierce drawing in a fury...more sitting...gathering spider droppings...finally yesterday I seized it and plunged it into the bath of ferric chloride. Time to adventure forth. 20 minutes, 45 minutes, another 30 minutes, another just has to FEEL right. I wanted something decisive. A slight touch of decay, a large pit in the copper where some lines meet, indicates the ground is starting to break down. Time to wash the plate and then remove the ground and see what we have. Sometimes it isn't good...but sometimes it IS!!

Two top left photos show the original monotype (which was offset onto an etching plate, aquatinted and bitten), and the resulting etching; top right shows the etching after a sugar lift aquatint unfortunately removed a lot of the dark tones on the plate by stripping the original aquatint; bottom left shows the plate then covered in soft ground and masked out over the bull and part of the woman. Bottom right shows the proof taken from this plate after the soft ground was etched for a long time in ferric, with the lost tones restored and strengthened. Every mark has been deepened, and contrasts have been exaggerated. Some minor scraping-out next to restore the bull's nose and then hang it in the workshop to absorb for a while.

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