Non-Conventional Aquatint VII

Non-Conventional Aquatint VII:

Date: May 11, 2017

Temperature: 75 degrees

Humidity: Low

Researchers: Claire Crews and Samuel Guerin

Can the malleability of the acrylic solution be used to create painterly or textural effects via directhand manipulation?

In this experiment we wanted to test how the aquatint medium would respond to being treated like a ground, rather than a dot pattern. While we still used the airbrush to apply the medium, we applied it heavily, to the point where it was almost completely opaque. While this coverage could have been achieved using a finer, consistent spray, we used a large airbrush aperture to cover the plate quickly,sacrificing uniformity to ensure that the medium was still fluid.

Immediately after spraying the plate, we disrupted the surface of the plate with newprint, dabbing and pressing to lift the ground and create texture. With parts of the ground lifted, and parts being almost completely blocked out by spray, we dried the plates in the hotbox for 30 minutes, allowing for a little more time than usual due to the density of the spray.

Pressing newsprint into aquatint-covered plate.

Plate with areas removed with newsprint and hand pressure.

Once the grounds were dry, we backed the plate and etched it (unmodified) in 36 baume Ferric Chloride for 8 minutes. Flushed, stripped, and deoxidized.


The plate shows a definite variation in biting, with some areas holding very sparse dot patterns, areas of textural open biting which appear to still retain some dot pitting and raised aquatint resist, and some areas of complete resistance. We inked and printed in Graphic Chemical 514C bone black with 20% transparent base, and printed on the Brand at 0.13 on Hannamule Copperplate Crème.

Conclusions: The areas where the ground had been lifted away printed surprisingly dark, holding a fair amount of ink for something that we assumed was just being open bit. Re-examining the plate under the loupe we saw that while the majority of the spray had been lifted in these areas, some remained, giving the plate necessary tooth to hold ink. In contrast, the areas which had the most spray etched with sparse, airy pitting, as the acid only etched the plate in the small, inconsistent areas where the coverage had not been total. The overall effect is similar to softground, though with the addition of secondary tonal etching.