Color Etchings

rom 1980 through 1991, I was a printmaker.

I spent my days at New York's Printmaking Workshop obsessively working on color etching, a demanding and painstaking technique involving the use of acids, solvents, and heavy machinery to arrive at a complex, subtle, rich result: the fine art print.

In my asphaltum-splattered and ink-smeared work dress, gloved hands swishing the bubbles in the acid bath, sweating over the hot plate on the inking stand or groaning as I cranked the plates through the tremendous pressure of the etching press, I would declare there was no filthier, more arduous means to achieve a delicate and beautiful work of art.

hese elegant images may not belie what their creation entailed. Each of my multiple image etchings demanded an average of four weeks, working full days, six, sometimes seven days a week, to create the three zinc plates from which each impression was pulled. Countless "working proofs: would be pulled from the plates as I crafted them: etching, sanding, scraping, adjusting the tones, until they would at last print to my satisfaction.

The printing of each impression, done entirely by hand by myself, sometimes with the blessed assistance of colleague Esther Light or my brother Martin helping to prepare the yellow and red plates, took an average of fifty minutes: a good day's work would yield us eight or nine prints. Then they’d have to dry under weights for several days before they could be signed, numbered and added to the edition.

t's no wonder that the patron saint of printmakers is the martyred Saint Sebastian.*

ach artist gravitates toward a medium through which he can best express himself. Why I chose such a challenging and often tedious means of expression I can’t quite say; but for fifteen years etching was the ONLY means of creating art that truly excited me.

It is a wonderful process to those of us mad enough to pursue it, engendering a deep dialogue between vision and materials, and a tremendous sense of triumph and elation when the final successful proof is pulled.

*We adopted him in a moment of solvent-induced punchiness.

in the acid room of the Printmaking Workshop, 1986: (after Vermeer)
in the acid room of the Printmaking Workshop, 1986: (after Vermeer)
Afternoon at Paricutín 24 x 36" 1983
Afternoon at Paricutín 24 x 36" 1983
Mexican Volcanos view the series
Another Full Moon Night 24 x 36" 1985
Another Full Moon Night 24 x 36" 1985
Caribbean Nights view the series
Reef Days 24 x 30" 1989
Reef Days 24 x 30" 1989
Underwater Again view the series
Ama Dablam 24 x 30" 1987
Ama Dablam 24 x 30" 1987
Nepal Suite view the series
 
St. Croix, US Virgin Island's Artist - Maria Henle
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