Wednesday, December 10, 2008


I spent this evening completing calibration of my polymer photogravure process. Using Mark Nelson's PDN system I generated process correction curves for the Toyobo Printight KM 73 plates, Rives BFK paper and Charbonnel Universal Black.

I was trading e-mails with Jon Lybrook over the course of the evening discussing Takach's synchronized pressure system (I love it), aquatint screens, exposure times, Kreene, and my printing problems. I must say that uniformly I've found workers in alternative photography processes to be generous with their time and advice. Jon is no exception.

I created two digital negatives on my Epson 3800 printer with two different contrast curves to make polymer plates from and decided to let them dry overnight. I broke free and tackled a homework assignment for my Fine Art Photography class at the Academy of Art in San Francisco, where I am pursuing (albeit slowly) a BFA in photography. My teacher, Cissy Spindler, gave us an assignment to explore visual dynamics and personal expression using paints, pens pencils, pastels etc. to create a drawing/painting/collage - abstract or representational. I read the assignment and went "Huh. Didn't I go into photography specifically because I can't draw/paint/collage my way out of a paper bag?"

Necessity (and a good grade) being the mother of invention, I decided on an abstract that also was educational. Using a palette knife I artistically created color trails of the Charbonnel inks I bought to take for a spin in photogravure. As Jon observed, this was a reason to pursue this process - the wide variety of inks and fine art printing methods available to the practitioner.

From left to right the inks are:
  1. Prussian Blue
  2. Carmine Red
  3. Vermillion Red
  4. Sepia
  5. Burnt Umber
  6. Van Dyck Brown
  7. Universal Black 55981
  8. Gold
I was struck by several things. Foremost how "black" Prussian Blue is. Very dark, very moody. No happy sky, robin egg blue. I'm going to love this color. Second, the reds - very fluid, Carmine Red being more the red I expect to use. Sepia has promise - a strong black brown, the Burnt Umber and Van Dyck Brown seeming weak in comparison. The Gold has an entirely different, coarser texture. I anticipate a challenge not only in finding the images suited to print with Gold, but working with this ink in general.

Charbonnel has a great booklet on their inks that does not seem to be anywhere on-line (but I'll keep looking - oh, try these pages). Haunt your local brick and mortar art stores - that's where I picked up mine.

I converted my painting to black and white to remind me how much I often love colors.

No comments: