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Project 2.2 Random Abstract Prints _Mayoux

Project 1.1_ Natural Landscape _ Mayoux

Project 5.2 Arcadia Recycled _ Mayoux


Etching inspiration

!! Post in process

For my own etchings and etching techniques see Etching Techniques

Origin and printmakers

Etching was used by goldsmiths and other metal-workers in order to decorate metal items such as guns, armour, cups and plates. The technique has been known in Europe since the Middle Ages at least, and may go back to antiquity.

The process as applied to printmaking is believed to have been invented by Daniel Hopfer (circa 1470–1536) of Augsburg, Germany. (See Google images)

In Renaissance Italy with a switch to copper plates, etching soon came to challenge engraving as the most popular medium for artists in printmaking.

Jacques Callot (1592–1635) from Nancy in Lorraine (now part of France)  made significant technical advances, attributed with developing:

  • the échoppe, a type of etching-needle with a slanting oval section at the end. This enabled etchers to create a swelling line, as engravers were able to do.
  • an improved, harder, recipe for the etching ground, using lute-makers’ varnish rather than a wax-based formula. This enabled lines to be more deeply bitten, prolonging the life of the plate in printing, and also greatly reducing the risk of “foul-biting”, where acid gets through the ground to the plate where it is not intended to, producing spots or blotches on the image. This meant etchers could do highly detailed work that was previously the monopoly of engravers.
  • more extensive and sophisticated use of multiple “stoppings-out”letting the acid bite lightly over the whole plate, then stopping-out those parts of the work which the artist wishes to keep light in tone by covering them with ground before bathing the plate in acid again. He achieved unprecedented subtlety in effects of distance and light and shade by careful control of this process.

Most of his prints were relatively small—up to about six inches or 15 cm on their longest dimension, but packed with detail.(See Google images).

One of his followers, the Parisian Abraham Bosse, spread Callot’s innovations all over Europe with the first published manual of etching, which was translated into Italian, Dutch, German and English.

17th and 18th century was the great age of etching:

Etching has often been combined with other intaglio techniques such as engraving (e.g., Rembrandt) or aquatint (e.g., Francisco Goya).

19th and early 20th century


Adler, K., (2006) Mary Cassatt: Prints, London: National Gallery.

Bikker, J., Webber, G. J. M., Wiesman, M. W. & Hinterding, E., (2014) Rembrandt: the late works, London: National Gallery.

Bikker, J. & Weber, G. J. M., (2015) Rembrandt: The Late Works, London: National Gallery.

Cate, P. D. & Grivel, M., (1992) From Pissaro to Picasso: color etching in France, Paris: Flammarion.

Cohen, J. (ed.) (1995) Picasso: Inside the Image, London: Thames & Hudson.

Coppel, S., (1998) Picasso and Printmaking in Paris, London: South BGank Publishing.

D’arcy Hughes, A. & Vernon-Morris, H., (2008) The Printmaking Bible: the complete guide to materials and techniques, San Francisco: Chronicle Books.

Freud, L., (2008) On Paper, London: Jonathan Cape.

Grabowski, B. & Flick, B., (2009) Printmaking: A Complete Guide to Materials and processes, London: Lawrence King Publishing.

Griffiths, A., (1980) Prints and Printmaking: An introduction to the history and techniques, London: British Museum Press.

Guse, E.-G. & Morat, F. A., (2008) Georio Morandi: paintings, watercolours, drawings, etchings, Munich, Berlin, London, New York: Prestel.

Hambling, M., (2009) The Sea, Salford Quays: The Lowry Press.

Lloyd, R., (2014) Hockney Printmaker, London: Acala Arts & Heritage Publishers Ltd.

Martin, J., (1993) The Encyclopedia of Printmaking Techniques, London: Quarto Publishing.

Meyrick, R., (2013) Sydney Lee Prints: A Catalogue Raisonnee, London: Royal Academy of the Arts.

Pogue, D., (2012) Printmaking Revolution : new advancements in technology, safety and sustainability, New York: watson-guptill publications.

Royalton-Kisch, M., (2006) Rembrandt as Printmaker, London: Hayward Gallery Touring.

Salamon, F., (1972) The History of Prints and Printmaking from Durer to Picasso: A guide to collecting, New York, Sat Louis, San Francisco: American Heritage Press.

Stobart, J., (2001) Printmaking for Beginners, London: A&C Black.

Woods, L., (2011) The Printmaking Handbook: Simple techniques and step-be-step projects, London: Search Press.

Wye, D., (2017) Louise Bourgeois: An Unfolding Portrait, New York: MoMA.

Zigrosser, C., (1951) Prints and Drawings of Kathhe Kollwitz, New York: Dover Publications.

Exhibitions and Galleries

Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam

Rembrandt Etchings permanent collection

British Museum

Picasso post-war prints: lithographs and aquatints (27 January – 3 March 2017)

Maggi Hambling – Touch: works on paper  (8 September 2016 –29 January 2017)

Germany divided: Baselitz and his generation From the Duerckheim Collection (6 February – 31 August 2014)

Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

Degas, Desboutin and Rembrandt: parallels in prints (27 October 2017 – 25 February 2018)

Fatal Consequences:The Chapman Brothers and Goya’s Disasters of War  (14 October 2014 – 8 February 2015) etchings

Maggi Hambling: The Wave (27 April – 8 August 2010) monoprints and ethcings

National Gallery

Rembrandt: The Late Works: (15 October 2014 to 18 January 2015)
Inventing Impressionism (4 March – 31 May 2015)

Royal Academy

Etching: The Infernal Method  (15 September 2017 — 19 February 2018)

Snape Maltings, Suffolk

Regular sales and exhibitions of prints and landscapes from Suffolk.


Drypoint inspiration

!!Post in Process

See Drypoint technique

for a discussion of my own drypoint prints and techniques.

Some printmakers who have used drypoint

Drypoint Pinterest Board

Drypoint technique appears to have been invented by the Housebook Master, a south German 15th-century artist, all of whose prints are in drypoint only. See google images of his prints.

  • Albrecht Dürer produced 3 drypoints before abandoning the technique (Google images)
  • Rembrandt used drypoint frequently, but usually in conjunction with etching and engraving. (Google images)
  • Alex Katz used drypoint with aquatint  to create several of his famous works, such as “Sunny” and “The Swimmer”.
  • Mary Cassatt used drypoint and aquatint with various colours.
  • Pablo Picasso, 1909, Two Nude Figures (Deux figures nues), steel-faced drypoint on Arches laid paper, 13 x 11 cm
  • David Brown Milne is credited as the first to produce coloured drypoints by the use of multiple plates, one for each colour. (See Google images)
  • Louise Bourgeois produced powerful autobiographical images in drypoint.

Contemporary printmakers whose drypoints I very much admire include:


Adler, K., (2006) Mary Cassatt: Prints, London: National Gallery.

Bikker, J., Webber, G. J. M., Wiesman, M. W. & Hinterding, E., (2014) Rembrandt: the late works, London: National Gallery.

Cohen, J. (ed.) (1995) Picasso: Inside the Image, London: Thames & Hudson.

Coppel, S., (1998) Picasso and Printmaking in Paris, London: South BGank Publishing.

Griffiths, A., (1980) Prints and Printmaking: An introduction to the history and techniques, London: British Museum Press.

Malbert, R., (2016) Louise Bourgeois: Autobiographical prints, London: Hayward Publishing.

Marquis, A., (2018) Marcellin Desboutin, Cambridge: Fitzwilliam Museum.

Martin, J., (1993) The Encyclopedia of Printmaking Techniques, London: Quarto Publishing.

Muller-Westermann, I. (ed.) (2015) Louise Bourgeois: I Have Been to Hell and Back, Ostfildern, Germany: Hatje Cantz Verlag.

Salamon, F., (1972) The History of Prints and Printmaking from Durer to Picasso: A guide to collecting, New York, Sat Louis, San Francisco: American Heritage Press.

Stobart, J., (2001) Printmaking for Beginners, London: A&C Black.

Wye, D., (2017) Louise Bourgeois: An Unfolding Portrait, New York: MoMA.

2: Abstraction 4: Portrait 5: Memory InProcess Self-portrait

Francis Bacon

!!to be further elaborated as I finalise Assignments 4 and 5

Francis Bacon’s edgy, visceral paintings tapping the unconscious a key source of inspiration for:

Quotations from the videos below:

We do with our lives what we can. And then we die. What else is there?

If anything ever does work in my case chance, and what I call ‘accident’ takes over.

Gamble everything on the next brush stroke…different strokes trying to do something else then develop themselves

How are you going to trap reality? How are you going to trap an appearance without making an illustration of it?

  • Colour of meat is beautiful

Issues for my printmaking:

  • Feeling the form as it emerges – particularly with monoprint or inking collagraph plates. One thing can turn into another.
  • Can work from photographs for portraits. But observe – Bacon could not draw.
  • Shadows do not need to relate to a subject – making them different can create considerable tension
  • his tryptichs ‘don’t relate to each other, but they play off one another…the balance seems better with three’


Key images

Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion c.1944 The work’s exhibition in April 1945 coincided with the release of the first photographs and film footage of the Nazi concentration camps. (Tate Modern website)
Triptych August 1972. This work is generally considered one in a series of Black Triptychs which followed the suicide of Bacon’s lover, George Dyer. Dyer appears on the left and Bacon is on the right. The central group is derived from a photograph of wrestlers by Edward Muybridge, but also suggests a more sexual encounter. The seated figures and their coupling are set against black voids and the central flurry has been seen as ‘a life-and death struggle’. (Tate Modern website)
Study for a self-portrait. Also known as Businessman I 1952 or Man’s Head 1952

Other paintings


Man in a Cap


BBC documentary

Tate Gallery Retrospective with words from Francis Bacon spoken by John Hurt

BBC Archive film

His last interview

Works set to music

Resources and references


Abstract painting techniques

Research on abstract painting techniques for Project 2.2 Random Abstracts

Below are videos of different approaches in paint that I could explore in printmaking.

Hard Edge Abstraction

Possible to explore for masked monoprint and/or screen print. Or indeed using masking on any type of print. These techniques use masking tape that is also worth exploring.

See also: Abstract Expressionism

Mark Rothko techniques

Willem de Kooning

Clyfford Still


InProcess Media

Gum printing

look up on yountube

2: Abstraction InProcess

Abstract Expressionism: Research Point

Abstract expressionism is the term applied to new forms of abstract art developed by American painters in the 1940s and 1950s, mostly based in New York City, and also became known as the New York school.The name evokes their aim to make art that while abstract was also expressive or emotional in its effect. They were inspired by the surrealist idea that art should come from the unconscious mind, and by the automatism of artist Joan Miró.

Within abstract expressionism were two broad groupings:

  • Action painters : Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning who attacked their canvases with expressive brush strokes. They worked in a spontaneous improvisatory manner often using large brushes to make sweeping gestural marks,  or pouring paint over the surface directly placing their inner impulses onto the canvas.
  • Colour field painting : Mark RothkoBarnett Newman and Clyfford Still who created simple compositions with large areas of more or less a single flat colour intended to produce a contemplative or meditational response in the viewer.

Several important female Abstract Expressionists from New York and San Francisco like Helen Frankenthaler and Lee Krasner now receive credit as elemental members of the canon.

Key Ideas

  • influenced by Surrealism’s focus on mining the unconscious, interest in myth and archetypal symbols, understanding of painting itself as a struggle between self-expression and the chaos of the subconscious.
  • influenced by leftist politics, and value an art grounded in personal experience.
  • emphatically American in spirit – monumental in scale, romantic in mood, and expressive of a rugged individual freedom.

See my print experiments in the style of Abstract Expressionist Painters:


Women artists in abstract expressionism


Anfam, D., Ed. (2017). Abstract Expressionism. London, Royal Academy of the Arts. Book from the 2017 exhibition.
Tate Gallery
The Art

and see sources on posts for my abstract expressionist experiments:

Galleries and Exhibitions

Royal Academy: Abstract Expressionism  (24 September 2016 — 2 January 2017)

Tate Modern: Rothko  (26 September 2008 – 1 February 2009) and permanent exhibition

1: Landscape Drypoint InProcess Inspiration Monoprint Natural Printmakers

Iona Howard

She has a studio in Cottenham in the Cambridgeshire Fens.

My prints explore the notion of time and landscape through a contemplative exploration of surface. The sources of my prints can come from working in the open air or expressing landscape filtered through memory…I am captivated by the ancient semi-natural landscapes typical of my native west Cornwall where a blurred line exists between nature and human activity. Recent works of the Fens focus on the meeting point of land, horizon and sky, their flatness altering the perception of distance. ‘

From interview with Iona in Cambridge 4th Feb 2017:

Her landscapes have a strong geometric structure of contrasting colours and textures. She mainly uses a combination of carborundum, drypoint and monoprint techniques. A mix of a binder (polyurethane varnish) and carborundum grit is applied onto the surface of a plate and sealed with the same varnish. The binder has to withstand a lot of working but should not be so thick as to hide the grit texture of the carborundum. To contrast the carborundum, drypoint is added to produce an incised line. The plate is then inked up using etching ink and copperplate oil with a brush or roller.

Originally she worked in black and white. Now she also works in colour from memory and notes. Colour is built up by layering carborundum plates or more often overlaid though monoprint. Dry ink can be added as a third pass. Ink can be laid on thickly for more embossing. She can use the same base plate but with different seasons. Editions of 40. Or 10-15. She gets commissions where people ask for specific colours.

The technique allows working directly in the landscape to paint on the carborundum and the drypoint plates, and large images can be produced. She prints  on thick Somerset paper, printing to the edge of the paper to “leave the composition as unconstrained as the landscapes from which I seek inspiration”. She mounts with  nonreflective glass.



Artist’s Statement

My art is somewhat schizophrenic. My professional life is very intense – working on participatory development in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Part of my aim and motivation in my art is therefore political – how to try and make the world a better place through improving communication and understanding between people – the poor and the rich, women and men and across ethnic divides. How to make visual as well as spoken messages understandable without oversimplifying from one particular standpoint, but providing information for people to want to think things through for themselves.

At the same time my art is also a way of exploring different ways of seeing and learning about the world as part of a search for my personal individual meaning, outside my professional life. Something that communicates feelings – flashes of light darting across layers of reflection, fascination with transition states and half-glimpsed images by my brain in its attempt to make sense of random patterns and sensations.  I am particularly interested in the power of suggestion and the process of abstraction. Although much of my work is detailed and figurative, I also experiment with found images and the degree to which images can be simplified in different ways for different effects and still remain readable to the viewer.

In my printmaking I have no one particular subject. I enjoy figurative drawing from life: people, landscapes, cityscapes. I have become increasingly interested in abstraction. And combining figurative and abstract elements into imaginative narratives. I am interested in exploring the specific features of different printmaking techniques compared to other media like drawing, photography and painting that I have explored in my other OCA courses.

Printmaking places a matrix or plate in between the production of the art work and its realisation as the final image. It freezes gestural markmaking, leaving time for reinterpretation before the final work is produced. The insertion of the matrix or plate also introduces an element of unpredictability – much depends on the particular state of the ink on the plate before it meets the paper. This unpredictability can to some extent be controlled through meticulous planning, experience and repetition, but is very sensitive to timing and heat and humidity in printing environment. In my work I prefer to treat unpredictability as part of the creative process – interacting with the plate as it evolves and building on what is produced as I go along. In that way I often discover new things about the image, new feelings and elements that I can push beyond what I could have planned or imagined.

Printmaking is generally done in layers. This enables both reinforcement and contrast in meaning and effects between layers. It means you can get intense splashes of light peeping through, struggling to emerge through the dark – sometimes planned, sometimes unexpected. I am interested in exploring the interactions between different types of ink, different papers and how this affects the ways that colours translate and interact to produce sharp and blurred edges to the transitions.

It is possible to push different types of printing process: monoprint, linocut, collagraph etc in the direction of their ‘natural’ effect. But each of the above can also be varied to produce a wide range of effects and mood. And the different techniques can be combined in an infinite number of variations.

  • There are many different types of plate – from metal to lino to potatoes. Each has different properties in affecting the qualities of line that can be produced, textures and how they absorb the ink and interact with the paper.
  • Different types of drawing implement can be used to produce different qualities of line or shape. They can also be used on the back of the paper to draw down into the ink. Or to incise through the ink on the front of the paper.
  • Different types of paper can enhance or contrast with the qualities of the plate – underlying or showing through the printed image.
  • Different types of ink give different layering effects, degrees of transparency and possibilities for texturing and combining colours.
  • Even the subtleties of the printing process itself affect the final image – the precise pressure of the printing press, whether the paper is placed on top or below the plate, is dry or damp to absorb the ink in different ways or whether the sensitivity of hand printing is used and in which parts of the image.

I have become increasingly interested in exploring fundamental design principles – something I am exploring in depth in my OCA Book Design course:

  • how different types of line can be produced and affect the mood and overall feel of a piece.
  • how different shapes and underlying tonal structure interact to produce a feeling of balance and harmony or structural tension and chaotic emotion.
  • how different colours can completely change the reading of an image – how they advance and retreat, combine to affect emotion and produce movement.

I need to think more about what sort of planning I do. When I plan too much things become very static and flat –  like a lot of the ‘hotel-style’ prints I do not like by other people. It is a very tricky balance. I still do not have sufficient technical skill to have real confidence always in what I am doing. But I think that with more experience, both in design, contrast and composition and particularly with control of ink with different types of surface and paper, it will be easier to envisage beforehand what something will look like. Then achieve something that builds on that vision including accidents and new discoveries. So that real creativity is maintained.

I intend to incorporate these elements into my work in Printmaking 2.


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