Thursday, October 8, 2009

SA: Stephen Rosin

The Devil Makes His Christmas Pie Out of Politician’s Tongues and Banker’s Fingers.


Nyaniso Lindi
Tribute to Noria Mabasa, 2009; Linocut

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Monday, July 6, 2009

Scraping and Burnishing copper plates

If a line has been etched into a sheet of copper, it will always be a permanent line, unless it is scraped and burnished away. This is like erasing the copper. With the use of a sharp metal scraper (normally these are 3 sided metal tools with a wooden handle, although they can also be a metal handle with a flat metal scraper on the one end, and an etching needle on the other end). The scraper, as the name suggests, will scrape away at the copper, taking away lines and areas that are either too dark, or areas that you just want to change up a bit. The burnisher (normally curved, smooth metal with the wooden handle on one end) will smooth out any areas of the copper by burnishing it (rubbing the burnisher over any lines). Simple methods, just takes a bit of elbow grease and patience to get your desired results.

Etching: Sugar Lift Resist and Recipe

This is similiar to gouache resist if you have ever tried it. Instead of painting with white gouache onto paper, one paints with a mixture made from syrup, black poster paint and liquid detergent (recipe given below) onto a sheet of cleaned copper. Take an ordinary paint brush, dip into the syrup mixture, paint on copper, then wait for it to dry. Once dry, paint a thin layer of hard ground over the top. Wait for the hard ground to dry, then place the plate of copper in warm water. The sugar mixture (with the help of the detergent) should then "lift" off the plate, exposing the copper beneath it. You can rub the hard ground covered plate in the water gently with your fingers to help the lift along. Once all the sugar mixture has lifted off the plate, take the copper plate out the water, wait for it to dry. When dry you can then either put a layer of aquatint over the top of the exposed copper (for a sugar lift aquatint) and then place it in acid. Or you can place the plate directly into the copper. Some open biting wll occur, but this will add to the effect if you so wish.

Sugar Lift Recipe
10 parts syrup (1 part sugar to 5 parts water, boiled to a syrup)
3 parts black poster paint
3 parts liquid detergent
(gum arabic is optional)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


Aquatint is used to achieve tones and textures. The copper plate is covered with a porous ground (using small dots of acid-resist). This allows the plate to etch except where you prevent it by stopping out with varnish. By stopping out at various stages during the biting, a variety of tones can be achieved from the lightest of greys through to the deepest black.
Source: Etching, Alan Smith
The best method to use in class, (as we experimented with an older airbrush, but did not achieve best results) is to use the spray paint method:
  • place the plate at an angle in the acid room
  • shake the aerosol well
  • work with the spray can between 2in to 6in from the plate, moving in straight lines from left to right
  • an even covering, allowing about 50% of the metal plate to show in between the dots works well (the more you cover the lighter the tone, the less you cover more copper will be exposed and then the copper will print darker).
  • You can spray, etch, block out more objects with hard ground, etch again, etc.
  • The areas that are blocked out the earliest will print the lightest, and the more you put the plate in the copper, the darker those areas will etch.

Soft Ground Etching: Important Tips and Tricks

Personally I find it always easier achieving a clean and precise line by drawing directly into hard ground. If you wish to achieve a softer line, as well as textural elements, it is useful using soft ground instead of hard. The soft acid resist should also be painted evenly over the copper plate. It can be painted a bit thicker than you would with hard ground.

Tips for pressing objects into soft ground:

If objects are pressed into soft ground, they will remove part of the ground because it stays soft. Paint the soft ground a little thicker than you would hard ground. You can press textures by hand, or use the press (use soft, flat objects that won't damage the press):
  • Place the soft, flat object on top of the soft ground.
  • Take one of the blankets off the press (to reduce the pressure).
  • Place your plate with the soft ground and textural 2d object on top of the metal bed
  • cover with newsprint (to protect the blanket)
  • cover with the blanket and pass through the press.

Tips for drawing into soft ground:

When drawing into soft ground, best results are achieved if you place a piece of paper over the soft ground plate and then draw onto the paper, the ground will stick to the paper when you peel it off. This removes some of the ground and lets the acid etch your drawing into the plate. If the ground or paper is thicker or thinner, the line will be softer (thicker paper) or harder (thinner paper). Do remember though your drawing will appear in reverse so try and use mylar paper and put the reverse of the drawing onto the copper before drawing onto the copper.

  • Put the copper plate onto a firm flat surface.
  • Make a paper window mount and tape it down over the copper plate.
  • Place your drawing under the mount, on top of the soft ground.
  • Tape the papers down to prevent movement.
  • An advantage of using this method, is that it allows you to draw directly onto the paper, and when the paper is lifted, the ground will be removed. The line will not be as thin and precise as when drawing direcltly into hard ground (of course this is what you may want to achieve).
  • Also by making a window mount and placing your drawing under the mount, you start your drawing, then etch the copper, let the copper dry, do more drawing, etch it again, etc. The lines that are were in the acid for longer should be darker and heavier.
  • Very interesting lines can be achieved using this method.

Hard Ground Etching

Hard ground is an acid-resistant wax that is put evenly all over the copper plate. Place the copper plate on a flat surface covered with newspaper. With a square paint brush coated in liquid hard ground, paint the ground on the copper evenly and thinly from left to right, top to bottoem. If any bubble occur, just try and blow them out, or give a touch up with a thin brush after the ground has dried (approx. 20min). An etching needle is used to draw through the ground, exposing the copper that will be etched. Draw lightly and loosely (as with a pencil), thereby only removing the ground and not scratching into the plate as you would with an engraving. Anything can really be used to remove the wax ground - pencil, roulette wheel, wire brush, paint brush with varsol on, etc. When the plate is put into the acid bath only the parts of the plate that have had the ground removed will etch. The areas will then trap the ink and print as a positive mark.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Friday, June 26 2009: summary from this morning

I love the way my friend Este puts narrative into perspective. Este has a very excellent way with words. "The narrative is the thread that weaves events together to form the story. and then : "Of course we can find stories everywhere, they can belong to a collective group - our family or nation or country or just us - about our past, present or future."

  • The historical and the mere aspect of intaglio printing, creating duplicates, the act of duplicating naturally lends itself to storytelling
  • William Hogarth looks specifically at the degredation of morals in 18th Century

  • Hogarth's work is relatively light-hearted, but the criticism is cleary evident

  • sequential narratives that mock society's ways - the upper class wastefulness, laziness, cruelty and over-consumption of spirits

  • example of the Marriage a la Mode Series (no. 1-6)

  • Daughter of wealthy merchant forced arranged marriage with bankrupt Earl Squanderfield, parties, squander, adultery, syphillis, degradation of values and home, physically, mentally, financially

  • Goya (1746 – 1828). - born in Spain, quick background of when and where he lived

  • 18th C Spain - social and political system dominated by Church

  • 3 estates, clergy, nobility and the "rest"- who were heavily taxed

  • pics of royalty (7,8,9)

  • france - king louis xiv, marie antoinette, squandered taxes on wars

  • embittered french citizens led to french revolution - overthrow of monarchy

  • goya reached height of popularity in late 1700's

  • painter to king

  • saw things for what they are - mockery on royalty

  • sudden decline for goya as well with illness leaves him deaf

  • introspective - reads on philosophies of the french revolution

  • bitter and satirical aquatinted series made during 1790's title

  • caprichos

  • dark prints - withdrawn - sleep of reason produces monsters (n0.10)

  • goya feels trapped and locked in in his mind

  • causes pain by rememberance and thinking - can't sleep and distinguish - reason is put to sleep in himself and society - produces monsters

  • hearing all but a memory

  • withdrawn and mocks society - degredation of morals, superstition, ignorance and inabilities of ruling calss, marital mistakes, decline of rationality

  • informal style, as well as the depiction of contemporary society

  • prints (11-18)

  • overthrow of french, death of king louis xiv, marie antoinette beheaded, spain royalty tries to save louis xiv (shows royalty weren't against lifestyle of the french monarchy)

  • napoleonic takes control, napoleonic wars of the peninsula of spain (ally england & portugal

  • peninsula war lasts 6 years, - 1808-1814 goya absolute low

  • disasters of war series (scened from the Peninsula war)

  • show prints (19-28) Titles such as: third of may 1808, The same_thing, And are like wild beasts, They do not want to, What courage, With or without reason, Saturn_Devouring_son (greek myth children would supplant him).

  • then sa art -

  • like the sequential narrative work of hogarth and then goya who comment on society and its follies

  • so too does, the bittercomix artists Intro to history a bit with work of kannemeyer (fear of a black planet) and botes

  • bittercomix is started by conrad botes, anton kannemeyer

  • raised a storm of controversy through their assault on the Afrikaner cultural mainstream, which they have developed into a broader critique of South African society. kannemeyer and botes grew up apartheid -In the repressive and dangerous climate, it was only via underground channels that any creator-driven expression could eventually be attempted. 1992 found their fiercely critical and controversial Bitterkomix publication in Afrikaans. Their furious, no-nonsense clarity and uncensored gall poked and prodded at the politicos and racists. privately printed and secretly circulated. referencing numerous loaded sources from the colonialist trappings of Tintin - cannot escape his colonial past, regardless of his political conviction (just because he may be white, does not mean he represents...).

  • show examples (30-42)
  • Goya is critical of socio political morals of his time, so too Botes and Kannemeyer of society, and even they hypocrisy of the Church/religion
  • after aparth. became clear that they were going to continue to expose hypocrisy and corruption under the new democracy wherever it might be lurking - perceived once again as seditious undesirables. Ten years (2004) since the release of Mandela, Botes and Dog remain as critical and uncompromising of the system and of themselves. see no reason to stop antagonising anyone in power and dissecting the most sacred of cows. As Dog puts it, "You brought me up and taught me to fear, to discriminate and hate. And now I must forgive you? No, fuck that."

  • investigation of the fear and anxiety that underlie South Africa's fragile democracy - like goya who reads philosophies of french revolution, parallel to SA's Truth and Reconciliation Stories
  • "Fear of a black Planet"

  • Other Artists where Fear and Anxiety: Colbert Mashile (cultural norms circumcision) print 43

  • 44.Kentridge_Massacre of the Innocents_sugar_lift and aquatint

  • 46.Mal d Afrika(African Sickness)_sugar_lift and aquatint

  • "More broadly Mr. Kentridge, 53, said he sees the nose as a metaphor for those parts of our selves in conflict, those impulses that stir up trouble because they have a mind of their own" references below.

  • Mr. Kentridge made his name as an artist willing to confront political complexities in subtle, even personal ways

  • Mining imagery - harsh, source of pain, source of money, industrial backbone of SA economy, especially the JHB (Egoli - city of Gold) / Gauteng area of SA
  • then the artist diane victor her series "disasters of peace"
  • "The images I am working with are taken from our daily media coverage of recent and almost commonplace happenings in newspapers, on TV and on radio of social and criminal acts of violence and ongoing unnecessary deathes - occurrences so frequently that they no longer raise an outcry from our public, yet they still constitute disaster in peacetime". Diane Victor
  • We all have stories to tell, some may not be as direct as others, all live with some fear of anxiety, contrast in our lives, draw upon that, may be in your dreams, put together arbitrary image that may or may not relate - contrast big, small and the absurd to create new work, new meaning, you may not know what you want to create, at first, so just put things/symbols together that contrast and form part of your lives. - to tell your story! (colbert mashile and kentridge)


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Kiki Smith and Tension

What I am most drawn to the work of Kiki Smith is the tension she creates in her narrative etchings. As a youth she was exposed to many cultural stories and rituals. These transcend into her work - she explores especially the tension experienced during puberty. I remember viewing a image Smith creates of the Alice Wonderland story by Lewis Carroll _ A Pool of Tears. A seemingly innocent scene has been reworked by Smith to create an innocent Alice drowing in water, a metaphor of innocence lost. I especially enjoy her continual process in the etching medium. She reworks and reworks plate, layer upon layer, history upon history. The very valuable Moma interactive website about Kiki Smith is worth a look:
ps. I have previously mentioned Smith in my blog: in reference to Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf. Is she trying to tell us something? Def. worth reading more on her.

Sunday, June 7, 2009


So a few weeks ago my contract to teach 1.5 units of the Printmaking 334 class at UVic came through. Same one as last year. It is going to be good and I have been doing quite a bit of research over the last while. I have put together a word document with a list of printmaking workshops throughout the world. I am busy including these as links on the right-hand column of this blog. Over the next week, I thought it would also be a good idea to list some contemporary artists who are practising in this medium.

Friday, April 17, 2009

SA Identity "What's on Your Mind"

Voting fever in SA at the moment, ah man. I am an avid (online) Sunday Times Newspaper reader - they have various blogs sections as well: A new one is What’s on your mind?:

"So much of South African life focuses on identity: your race, gender, how much you have in your pocket. In all this classification it’s easy to lose a sense of the individual. Our photographers hit the streets to find out: What’s on your mind?

other blogs:

Also read more about BBC has to say:

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


My dad is sending me some flower seeds - all the way from SA. Can't wait to plant them, they will have a little history behind them - like the stories of these amazing little plants shown on this website:

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Department of Eagles

"DEPARTMENT OF EAGLES began in 2000, when New York University assigned freshmen Fred Nicolaus and Daniel Rossen to share a room. To pass the time during an uneventful spring semester, the two began making music together, collecting samples and turning them into songs using pirated software and a microphone borrowed from their neighbor Chris Taylor (who, years later, would become Daniel's bandmate in Grizzly Bear and DoE's producer/engineer). Somewhat accidentally the group was discovered by a California label....

"Join us on March 24th at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC for a very special premiere of the video for Department of Eagles' "No One Does It Like You," produced by the Directors Bureau, directed by Patrick Daughters and Marcel Dzama, and featuring costumes and sets designed by Dzama."

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Relationship: Art and Language

"Battiss’s woodcuts are part of the larger social text that he creates in and through his work. In addition, these prints question the origins of language, the very alphabet constituting such a language. Battiss indefatigably explored the creative potential of a visual language derived from rock art throughout his life: he encoded a language; devised his own language; and expanded his visual language, particularly in the various screen prints on exhibition. He plays with art and language: inscribed in one screen print are the words ‘Child playing with the leg of a broken statue’. His alphabet, his language has become, like the title of one of his screen prints, Flying Angels."

"and they all include some form of writing, usually in the background of the photo. ................. The magazine, Art and Language, was started in London by Terry Atkinson and Michael Baldwin at the time when Battiss met master printer Betambeau."

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Yay I am on Itch Online Magazine!

Thanks very much Bell Roberts and Itch Magazine. What is a Dollar Worth? $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

Friday, February 27, 2009

Daniel Naude: Africanis dog

Daniel Naude, a recent graduate of Stellenbosch Uni. showed his photographs of Africanis dogs at Michael Stevenson's Summer 2008/9: Projects: 27 November 2008 - 10 January 2009

I chose the image above because this dog is from Britstown. My dad has a cousin that lives there. When I was in my early teens we went to visit this family of ours. We drove up to the Karoo from our house in George. What an adventure - a real Karoo farm!

What a different and isolated lifestyle it is living on a sheep farm. I remember a pet crow that hung out at the back stoep. In a corner cage of a doilie rich '70's style living room, an outspoken parrot mimicked the sounds the 'masters of the house' as well as the various telephone rings that penetrated through the household. I wonder why they never answered the ringing phone - I learnt that the phone serviced a wide area, and you had to keep an ear open for your distinct ring. I won't forgot the bull dog pups. (I later learned that one died after being trapped under a steel roofplate, the hot summer sun causing its heart attack). I won't forget the family's timid and tame pet springbuck. (I also later learned of the heartache when the buck left the family to find a life among its own, and even more heartache when it was accidently shot by the family on one of their frequent hunting trips).

I won't forget the size of my dad's cousin. Huge, just like his dad - who lived on the neighbouring farm down the dirt road. I won't forget his daughters - who let us shoot bottles with their rifles and took us to see bushman paintings on rock found on the farm. (They also showed us uniforms their dad wore to special meetings). I know what the khaki stood for, but we asked no questions. I won't forget the question the one little girl asked her mother at breakfast on our last morning. As her mother was dishing up leftover "afval" from the previous evening she asked her mother where the other eyeball was. All the mother replied was: you had the other eyeball for dinner last night. There are only two eyeballs in a buck afterall!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

William Kentridge

Pieter Hugo, Michael Stevenson & Nollywood

Nollywood Show at Michael Stevenson, Cape Town, 15 January - 21 February 2009

"Nollywood is the third largest film industry in the world, releasing between 500 and 1 000 movies each year. It produces movies on its own terms, telling stories that appeal to and reflect the lives of its public: it is a rare instance of self-representation in Africa. The continent has a rich tradition of story-telling that has been expressed abundantly through oral and written fiction, but has never been conveyed through the mass media before. Stars are local actors; plots confront the public with familiar situations of romance, comedy, witchcraft, bribery, prostitution. The narrative is overdramatic, deprived of happy endings, tragic. The aesthetic is loud, violent, excessive; nothing is said, everything is shouted." Source:

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

South Africa: Conrad Botes: Cain and Abel Exhibition

2009,Enamel on camphor wood,59 x 24 x 23cm

"Botes' exhibition, titled Cain and Abel, is a reflection on the origins of violence, a return to the very first tale of murder as related in the Bible and Qu'ran, as if to grapple with the notion of aggression itself. The story was translated into a gritty black and white comic published in Bitterkomix #15, and is exhibited here in full. A detailed allegory of rivalry, jealousy, corruption and lust, it forms the point of departure for many of the works on this show."

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Great Britain: Jenny Seville

Philip Guston: June 27, 1913 – June 7, 1980

In the 1950s, Guston achieved success and renown as a first-generation Abstract Expressionist. During this period his paintings often consisted of blocks and masses of gestural strokes and marks of color floating within the picture plane. These works, with marks often grouped toward the center of the compositions, recall the "plus and minus" compositions by Piet Mondrian. Guston used a relatively limited palette favoring whites, blacks, greys and reds in these works. This palette remains evident in his later work.
In the late 1960s, Guston became frustrated with abstraction and began painting representationally again, but in a rather cartoonish manner. The first exhibition of these new figurative paintings was held in 1970 at the Marlborough Gallery in New York. It received scathing reviews from most of the art establishment (notably from the New York Times art critic Hilton Kramer who, in an article ridiculed Guston's new style). One of the few who instantly understood the importance of those paintings was the painter Willem de Kooning who, at the time, said to Guston that they were "about freedom" (cited in Musa Mayer's biography of her father, Night Studio).[citation needed] As a result of the poor reception of his new figurative paintings, Guston decided to move from New York and settled in Woodstock, far from the art world which had so utterly misunderstood his art...When criticized widely about the impurity of these later paintings, he responded, "There is something ridiculous and miserly in the myth we inherit from abstract art. That painting is autonomous, pure and for itself, therefore we habitually analyze its ingredients and define its limits. But painting is 'impure'. It is the adjustment of 'impurities' which forces its continuity. We are image-makers and image-ridden. There are no wiggly or straight lines..." In this body of work he created a lexicon of images such as Klansmen, lightbulbs, shoes, cigarettes, and clocks. Guston is best known for these late existential and lugubrious paintings