New Work - January 2015

Drypoints in late 2014 and early 2015: Color! Color! Color! as well as portraits, dancers, and nudes

Tutu Sketch

"Tutu Sketch"
(Drypoint multiplate monoprint, August, 2014)

Mirliton Backstage

"Mirliton Backstage"
(Drypoint engraving on copper with added color, January 2015)

In 2014 and 2015 I began to return to exploring ways to represent the moods and personalities of dancers in the backstage environment at ballets. Being a theater performer myself, I spend a lot of time in the wings, waiting for my own moment to go on, and experiencing the milieu in the shadowy, shifting lights behind the scenes. This led me to return to a series I began as colored ballpoint drawings in the 1980s and 1990s, a series I call "The Light Backstage". In this 21st century re-boot of the series, I am utilizing drypoint on aluminum and copper, playing with color, tone, and chiaroscuro on multiple color plates to bring out a glimpse of what it is to be like when dancers watch other dancers from that space that the audience almost never sees. I still enjoy the stark strength of imagery that monocolor gives - and still choose a single color for many prints - but color washes allow me to portray some aspects of the atmosphere side-stage with even greater verisimilitude.

Soloist color proofs

"Soloist color proofs""
Drypoint engraving on copper with color wash plates (October, 2014)

"Soloist" is a plate that I originally began as a quick 6 by 12 inch drypoint gesture sketch on copper around 2006 or 2007, while watching the UTEP Ballet from backstage. I set the plate aside and re-discovered it in Fall 2014, and decided to add color to it through the use of water-soluble pastels on additional plates (a monotype technique). In the image series shown above I show a few of the variations I have done, playing with moods in the colors that wash through the image. I have about two dozen variants so far, and it is fun to see how different color hue and density combinations affect the mood and feel of the light shining in from stage to back-stage.

Sylphide Dressing Room

"Sylphide Dressing Room"
Drypoint on copper with monotype color plates (October, 2014)

Sylphide Dressing Room is a simple color sketch that combines drypoint copper intaglio with water-soluble pastel color plates. It is larger than some of my other work, 11 by 14 inches in size.

Portrait of Lesley L as Giselle

"Portrait of Lesley L as Giselle"
Drypoint with mezzotint on aluminum (January, 2015)

Portrait of Lesle L as Giselle is a drypoint on aluminum. It fulfills a long-made promise (to myself, maybe to Lesley, too) that I would draw a portrait of Lesley L, a very talented dancer (whom I greatly admire), in her role as Giselle. Monotone, 8 by 10 inches in size.

WAF, Reclining in a Forest

"We All Forget, Reclining in a Forest"
Drypoint with mezzotint on aluminum (August, 2014)

We All Forget, Reclining in a Forest combines drypoint with mezzotint on aluminum. It is part of my "We All Forget" series of nudes in surrealistic forests, monotone, 8 by 10 inches in size.

Nude Reaching Down

"Nude Reaching Down"
Drypoint on copper, 6 by 12 inches (January, 2015)

WAF The Slight Twist

"We All Forget, The Slight Twist"
Drypoint and mezzotint on copper, 6 by 12 inches (January, 2015)

Nude Reaching Down adds color into my nude studies. It is a copper drypoint with additional color added using water-soluble pastels printed via an additional plate. "We All Forget: The Slight Twist" is a monotone drypoint-mezzotint on copper (6 by 12 inches) made in January 2015 and printed in burnt sienna.

How the color intaglio prints from "Mirliton Backstage" were created

multicolor plate part 1

Plate 1 - A plastic plate is laid over the key (copper) plate and color is added to the desired locations using water-soluble pastels.

multicolor plate part 2

Plate 2 - An aluminum plate containing the darker regions of the background is inked with a combination of Pthalo Blue Akua non-toxic inks and a drop or two of alcohol. The alcohol thins the ink into a film that is much less intense in color. Sometimes a bit of graphite colored ink or a color (such as burnt sienna) from the other side of the 'color wheel' is added to bring the tone down into a softer greyish blue.

multicolor plate part 3

Plate 3 - The third plate is the copper 'key plate'. This copper plate was the original drypoint drawing and contains the majority of the detail - the aluminum and transparent plates are meant to supply washes and colors. The copper plate is inked with Akua non-toxic graphite intaglio ink and then printed last, superimposing the image over the colors.

multicolor plate part 4

Once the plates are inked and ready, a sheet of Hannemuhle Copperplate printing paper is soaked in water and blotted so that it is moist and soft.

paper taped to press bed

The moistened paper is fixed to the registration jig on the pressbed at one end with a couple of small strips of transparent tape . The pressbed has been covered with an aluminum 'registration jig', which is a kind of frame-like shape that has a window cut into it. The jig is a fraction of an inch larger than the plates that will be slotted into it. The jig will lock the plates into place, and ensure that all three plates are printed into precisely the same spot on the paper.

plate 1 on press bed

The first (transparent plastic) plate, with pastel color on it, is placed into the window of the registration jig and the taped-down paper is laid over it. The first run through the printing press takes place.

multicolor plate step 7

In the first run through the press, the transparent plate's color washes are transferred to the paper. The paper is lifted and pulled back from one end so that the first plate can be removed and replaced with the second one. The paper can be pulled back and precisely returned to the same location because it has been taped down along one end.

multicolor plate part 8

The second plate to be printed is an aluminum drypoint with background tones, inked with dark and moody grey-blue colors. It is swapped out with the the transparent plastic plate, fitting into the registration jig window. As noted, the paper can be lifted from one end to do this because it has been taped down at the other end. The paper and plate are run through the press again.

multicolor plate part 9

After the second pass through the press the second plate's color has been transferred onto the paper and a more complex image begins to develop. Here the paper has been peeled back to show the aluminum plate in the jig window, as well as the darker colors added into the paper's image.

plate 3 on press bed

After the second pass through the press, the aluminum plate is removed and the copper 'key plate' is laid into the registration jig. The paper is run a third time through the press. The detail from the copper plate is transferred onto the paper as the final layer, completing the image.

Flower Watchers

"Flower Watchers"
Drypoint on copper (monotone color), 6 by 12 inches (January, 2015)

Flower Girls

"Flower Girls"
Drypoint on copper with added color, 6 by 12 inches (January, 2015)

"Flower Watchers" and "Flower Girls" are two more of "The Light Backstage" series. In this set I am adding color washes to some of the prints, and simply working in monotone in others. For example, in the versions shown above, "Flower Watchers" is in Payne's Grey (a monotone, bluish grey). "Flower Girls" is (in this case) printed in Burnt Sienna with subtle green and pink washes of color added here and there, These are all 6 by 12 inch copper drypoints enhanced with color washes from an additional transparent plastic plate (if used on a particular print). Each proof is slightly different, but all of the proofs in a particular edition use the same copper "key plates."

Tutu Stretch

"Tutu Stretch"
Drypoint on copper with added color, 5 by 7 inches (November, 2014)

Tutu Stretch

"Tutu Stretch"
Drypoint on copper with added color, 5 by 7 inches (November, 2014).

Here are two versions of "Tutu Stretch", an image that I designed for printing on my portable Galleon printing press. I have several dozen variants, and eventually I will close out the edition, number them all, and cancel (disfigure) the plate. These are all 5 by 7 inch copper drypoints enhanced with color washes from an additional transparent plastic plates. Because of the hand-coloring each proof has a unique color combination, but all of the "Tutu Stretch" proofs use the same copper "key plate."

All content and images copyright © 2014 B. H. Giza. All rights reserved.
This page by B. H. Giza - Updated January 29, 2015