From my first reading of the Art & Lies extract by Jeanette Winterson, I wanted to depict the boys in their eyries.
Initially, I planned to make a varied edition of altered books and I progressed as far as buying Condensed Readers Digest books in sufficient numbers, before I realized the difficulty of hand-carving hundreds of pages over and over to make the edition. Fortunately, another structure came to mind.
At Ed Hutchins’ Single Sheet Structures workshop, a couple of years ago, I learned about the story box. It’s a simple structure that can be very effective when it supports the concept, and in this case it was perfect. With the image of the eyries in my head, I plunged into working on the inside of the box.
For this edition, I really wanted the warmth of a hand-pulled print, despite having more experience with digital printmaking. Having only made a couple of etchings before, I chose to do the inside image of the library as a drypoint on a Perspex (acrylic) plate, 30cm x 42cm. I did not want to make a large acid-etched plate in case it wasn’t successful.
Below you can see the plate now.
To inscribe it I used two drypoint tools, which you can see too.The one with the wooden shaft is an inexpensive diamond point from Dick Blick. The diamond makes an incredible difference in the pressure you have to apply. I’m not sure whether this particular tool will last very long, but if not I’ll certainly be replacing it with another diamond point. If anyone has a favourite tool for drypoint they recommend, please do let me know.
I found this lovely photo (above) of the book stacks at the British Library by Steve Cadman on flickr. It was the inspiration for the colours I initially prepared for the background of my print, using acrylic inks (below left).
Right: In progress, showing lightened areas in two places
I scanned the background and planned to create areas where the eyries would be positioned using the “lighting effects” in Photoshop. Obviously, this darkens those areas of the print that you haven’t chosen to be “lightened”.
In case you haven’t used this, you just go to:
There are a lot of options, but a good place to start is with either Omni or Spotlight (found in the Light Type window). From there you can play about with intensity and narrow or wide focus. It maybe useful to adjust the “exposure” and/or “ambience”, which can be found under Properties. I’ve found these to be the most fundamental controls to achieving simple but effective lighting effects. Beyond that, you can spend hours playing to see what can be done.
Combining the Digital and Drypoint Prints
In total I created five “lightened eyries”, which showed up quite nicely, but the background was now looking rather dark and dull. I altered the saturation and colour balance until the background printed on the Rives BFK printmaking paper to my taste. As this isn’t a paper for inkjet printing, there aren’t any colour profiles online, so I had to make numerous small test prints on the actual paper in order to see the colours.
Left is the final background, as the file appears on-screen. Right, a scan of the artists’ proof (drypoint over digital background on Rives BFK).
More next time!