Recently I took part in a wonderful new printmaking workshop in the light filled, white on white studio of the artist, Soledad Saleme, who recently had a gorgeous show at Goya Contemporary. She specializes in solar etching and monoprints and limits each class to five people- perfect for a 3-day intensive plunge into the process. Each class has had a wonderful mix of painters, photographers, jewelers, sculptors and architects.
Although I was the artist in residence for MICA’s printmaking department in the spring of 2000, it’s been several years since I’d explored the medium and figured that Sol would provide the perfect refresher. Our group turned out to far exceed my hopes. (Soledad learned the solar etching process with Dan Welden, who published the book ‘Printmaking with The Sun.’)
Solar etching is a fairly recent development. Instead of scoring or eating away the surfaces of metal plates with toxic acids, the solar process uses a transparency upon a biodegradable emulsion backed by a thin steel plate that is exposed to light, and then simply washed with water and air-dried. The process provides a wide array of delightful possibilities. Before the workshop, I began several images in Photoshop, some painterly and others using photos of my performances. These were translated into the transparencies for the exposures.
In addition, we explored monoprints-, which became a revelation for me. With her warm Latin enthusiasm, Sol drew the best out of all of us. Everyone made excellent work. The sense of excitement drew us further into intuitive experimenting, amid much discussion about techniques and effects.
My work took on a surprising new fluid organic quality; ideas arose about returning to painting, even as I’m now considering using more of my photography as a basis for solar etching. The difference between a quality gyclee print of an image- and an actual etching of the same image is enormous. Solar etching lifts the image into something more authentic, mysterious and original. The end result is a quality set of great prints, and a wealth of new ideas. Highly recommended!