Mezzotint copper plate

The Matrix

A friend of mine, Lesley Samms, sent me a link at the end of December to apply for the “Show Me The Monet” BBC series on art which I did. And forgot about it.

Last week nice voice by the name of Nel phoned and we had a great chat – that was the second stage of selection. So, from 3000 it went down to 300, and after the telephone conversation another 150 of the applicants went in a puff of smoke. But I survived. And that’s why…

Tomorrow I am going to Shepherds Bush for an interview. After that only a quater of the remaining 150 artists will make it to the final exhibition. Wish me luck!

Mezzotint plate for the portrait of Eve Delf.

Me and The Matrix

I’ll have to produce a proof of my identity and a proof of my authorship for the artwork I submitted. I thought I’d do the latter in a blog form to save myself lagging stuff around London and also illuminate briefly on my way of working on a mezzotint portrait.

It started last Autumn. I was again thinking about a getting a new model on my quest for a remarkable face, and remembered Eve – a pretty girl of about 14-15. I contacted her mom Angela, asking if Eve would be interested to sit for me and if Angela herself wouldn’t mind. “Yes” was the answer and one day after that they came to the gallery.

Sketch drawing of Eve Delf

Sketch drawing of Eve Delf

Eve was 15, slim, nearly 6 foot tall and beautiful beyond words. I didn’t expect all this when I was asking and certainly got more than I bargained for. It turned out as well, that Eve has just been signed up by a modelling agency after an unexpected turn of events.

We had a couple of sessions in my studio with Eve. I was photographing and drawing. We talked about this and that. And so, at the end I had about 800 photos, a few video clips and several quick sketches.

The next stage is brooding. Brooding, brooding. Looking through the materials: photos and clips. (I am still to figure out how to make use of videos…)

Fibonacci spiral

Fibonacci spiral

During that time, I re-visited the Golden Ratio and Fibonacci spiral ideas and thought about composition.

A few photos emerged as possibilities. Then I photoshopped them into something I wanted the mezzotints look like. Trying them with bands of colour, cropping etc.

Eve

Eve

So, here is the photo of Eve which was the base for the print. What attracted me to this particular one out of the 800 others is the geometry of the lines formed by the hair on the forehead, outline of the face, hand and arm.

The face is peaceful, at the same time there is a subtle smile. It hints towards thoughts which cannot be seen, cannot be known, but they are the most important element. They create the dynamics of the whole picture. So, the picture is very static here, but there is motion created by the underlying geometry of the composition and by the subtle expression f the face.

Eve Delf - 2

Eve Delf - 2

Next stage – cropping. I decided to take the Golden Ratio proportions and Fibonacci spiral to base the composition on. Why? To tie together proven classical references and rules (one way or another they run a lot of human programming in terms of how we perceive art) in order  to create an iconic image.

In a way, I am after something as iconic as Mona Lisa, and some references to that portrait are also incorporated into Eve’s mezzotint. All that laid on the powerful chiaro-scuro effect of the technique itself is bound to create a remarkable image.

Eve Delf - 1

Eve Delf - 1

The road is marked. Now, all that is left to do is to actually make it. Simple 🙂

I ordered two large plates to Martin Maywood. Not long before that we talked and he said he was able to rock much bigger plates now. That’s why I could plan a more ambitious project – size-wise as well as in other ways. 75-46cm plate is quite large for a mezzotint. Got the plates some time in February or March. The next 4-5 months were spent in burnishing. And that’s it.

Many hundreds of hours and several stage proofs later I had two beautiful portraits of Eve Delf. Well, also a series of hands with an apple and a trio of smaller plates picturing fragments of Eve’s beautiful face.

PS. I’ve never watched the program itself, as we haven’t got a television in the house. I might leave it that way to make it more exciting 🙂

Framed portrait of Eve Delf and the matrix plate

Matrix and the framed print

New mezzotint prints

June 2, 2011

I have finished working on a few plates, most of which are going to be exhibited at the Blackheath gallery in London starting from 11th of June as part of their Summer Show.

Decided to experiment with adding colour to mezzotint. Got varied feedback. I am posting images with colour and without colour, and would love to hear your opinion on them!

Mezzotint nude

“Sun” – 1

 

Mezzotint

“Sun” – 1

Mezzotint nude“Sun” – 2

Mezzotint nude

“Sun” – 3

 

 

 

 

 

Mezzotint nude

“Sun” – 1

Mezzotint nude

“Sun” – 2

Mezzotint nude

“Sun” – 3

 

 

 

 

 

Mezzotint. The Apple

“The Apple”

Mezzotint. The Apple

“The Apple”

Mezzotint. The Apple

“The Apple”

 

 

 

 

Mezzotint. The Apple

“The Apple”

Mezzotint. The Apple

“The Apple”

Mezzotint. The Apple

“The Apple”

 

 

 

 

The above images are rather large. Well, for a mezzotint AND for my mezzotints. Nudes are all 15x24cm, and the apple prints are 23×36.5 the left and right images and 23x23cm the central one.

I am gradually increasing the sizes of my plates. Gradually, because mezzotint IS such medium – incremental. Currently, I am working on two portraits which are the biggest ever – 75x46cm.

In comparison with hours, days, weeks and months it took me to finish the above prints, working on a couple of small plates hardly left an imprint on my memory. Still, I like them for their simplicity. Simpleton-icity even 🙂

Garlic. Mezzotint

“Garlic”

Mezzotint. Olives

“Tinker, taylor…”

I found this brilliant video introduction to Intaglio printmaking on Youtube:

Very well-edited and informative video clip.

Mezzotint is one of Intaglio printmaking techniques. Strictly speaking, it is a drypoint, as the image on the plate is formed by roughening the surface of the plate and then smoothing some areas, as opposed to incising the metal in engraving, or biting with acid in etching.

Mixed media original print by Margaret van Patten

"Paper Thin"

While looking for artists working in mezzotint, found an amazing art by an artist Margaret van Patten.

Paper Thin
photo by Harold Hutchinson
Etching with mezzotint

The image is rich in content – messages from conscious and subconscious levels merge in an emotional and elegant manner. The technical diversity the artist applied to creating the plate makes for a complex yet un-crowded image.

Love her work!

I seem to be managing with less proofs now than I used to.

Some prints took around 20 or more stage proofs before the final image. Especially the larger portrait mezzotints, like “Girl by the Window”, “Mother and Child” and “Alina’s Faces”. The smaller and less detailed mezzotints were finished with 4-7 proofs.

I put together a couple of video clips made of a succession of stage proofs. Here is the “Alina’s Faces” – 1:

Experience helps. Now I can judge better the depth of the burnishing by the look of the plate. Important to get the right light on the plate. It has to be diffused yet strong enough.

There were many frustrating moments while I was trying out a variety of rocking methods.

I gave up rocking the plates myself very early on. The process of working on the image itself is time consuming hard and slow enough without wanting to devote another double that time and effort to preparing the plate.

Before I found my present supplier of pre-rocked plates, I tried machine-rocked plates made in Japan. These were no good – very shallow rocking.

Although it was much easier to work on the plate and achieve fine detail without too much effort, the burr was too shallow to hold enough ink. Even light wiping of the plate would lift the ink up and leave bold grey patches on the bakground.

Mezzotint print. "Claire". Marina Kim Mezzotints.

"Claire"

The “Claire” was made on such a plate. The inferriority of the plate made the wiping process extremely fiddly. I manage to print around 60 impressions including author’s proofs and a few rejects simply because I like the image too much to give up sooner.

Mezzotint print by Marina kim "Alina's Rose"

Mezzotint “Alina’s Rose”

Alina is my younger daughter. At the time I made this mezzotint she was almost three.

I was looking for an image for a mezzotint on a very long and narrow plate – 40×12.5 cm. My intention was to have a flower on it, but I wanted it to be held, so that the hands would be in the picture and the flower and hands would in a way be competing for the attention of the viewer.

So, I asked Alina to model for me with a rose. And put on a white dress with intricate piping detail. She wasn’t too happy about it. Being heavily under the influence of her almost 5 year-old sister, she was very aware that dresses weren’t cool. But I loved the resulting image with the garden rose near the end of its life and about to loose its petals, and the soft baby-hands holding it. The fabric of the dress creating the background for the image was an interesting detail to work on, and quite a challenge too.

Mezzotint meditation

April 8, 2011

If someone told me even couple of years ago, that art for them is meditation, I wouldn’t get that. For me art is a struggle. It requires pushing oneself.

Yet now I discovered, that mezzotint is a meditation for me.

Yesterday I over-stimulated myself socially (in fact a couple of days in a row I was deliberately doing just that) and had trouble going to sleep. So, now I am calming myself down by working on the new mezzotint plates.

It makes you slow down and pay attention…

Mezzotint plate I am working on currently. Female Nude. Mezzotint artist Marina Kim. Printmaking mezzotint.

Mezzotint