Guy's Trip to NZ & More Multi-Plate Colour Etching

Guy's Time In New Zealand
My trip to New Zealand for my dad's funeral was a good one for all the wrong reasons.
The funeral was a bit rough, but good as funerals go and not sombre at all - I think my dad would have been pleased with the turn-out.
There were around 170 people there from all sections of the local community and I caught up with a lot of people that I had not seen since I left the area 35yrs ago!
I read the eulogy, my brother Johnny spoke and his daughter Nicola read out a poem that I can remember my dad quoting regularly many years ago.
One of the happier moments of the whole funeral process was when we discovered a photo of my dad when he was a young sailor during his days in the Navy. We just had to have this photo on the funeral service!

I was there for over five weeks, and in this time, I got to spend some good quality time with my Mum who is now permanently is a rest-home.

She celebrated her 90th birthday while I was there and the local women put on a small party (with about 30 people there!) for her in the Helensville RSA hall. She was not all that keen about having a party but ended up being the last one there after making a speech, cutting cake and talking to everyone.

My brother Brian had to return to the Philippines (where he is working as a helicopter avionics technician) before Mum's birthday, but he even managed to call during the party, so Mum had a good time.

I also got to spend a lot of time with my brother Johnny on the farm, helping him with farm-work as well as spending time helping him fix things that he doesn't have time to get done.
This was the most time that we have spent together since we were teenagers and it was thoroughly enjoyable.
View from the farm-house
Looking over the Kaipara River
The flat part of the farm
Into the hilly part of the farm
Dogs don't run anymore!
My work vehicle!
Little truck & big tractor
Johnny & his son (Jordan) hard at work
Jordan on a break
Johnny on a break!
One of the more interesting "fix-it" jobs involved getting some aluminium welding done on a ex-military APC that one of Johnny's friends keeps on the farm.
It had to be driven to one of his neighbours who was an excellent TIG welder.
You don't see many vehicles like this parked in a drive-way!

During my time in NZ, Johnny was also approached by a film company to do an ad on the farm for Toro lawn-mowers.
The day that it was shot was a perfect day and Johnny and I were working with sheep at his shearing shed.
Below is the link to the ad, showing the fantastic view from the top of the hill.

The shed behind in the distance is where Johnny and I were working at the time.

Although it was a sad time, it was also a good time as the whole family was together and we enjoyed each other's company.
At the then end of my time in NZ, I was really missing Lyn and so I was very glad to be returning to Florence to be with her for the last couple of months that we have left in Italy.

The Change Of Seasons
Since I left Florence at the end of August to go to New Zealand, the weather has completely changed.
I left in Florence on the train to Rome in shorts because it was still around 30 degrees, and returned in a coat and jumper.
Piazza Michelangelo In The Morning
The days are much cooler (around 15 degrees), shorter and there is much less warmth in the sun.
The city is slowly emptying out of tourists as the warmer weather finishes and it almost feels like we are "getting the city back"!

More multi-plate colour etching
This week there has been a new set of exercises to do. 
Last week I had to make the different colours and I managed to get 8 colours out of 10.
I thought that then I would be making a design on my aquatinted plates - but no, I had to mix my pure colours with white covering ink and repeat the same sequence as I did with the pure colours and the transparent ink. 
What a nightmare white ink is! I thought yellow was bad. At least with yellow ink, only the yellow ink oxidises and goes black - with white ink, EVERYTHING goes black. 
By the time I got to 1/4 pure colour mixed with 3/4 white covering ink it was not only going black, but tearing the paper as well because it makes it is so sticky. Very frustrating.....
And as for 1/8 pure colour and 7/8 white ink- I was almost ready to give up the whole thing.
I finally finished with Manuel's help, pulling the paper from the plate was like ......... I can't even think of anything similar! 
Slowly, slowly, hold my breath, peel the paper from the plate - is the paper too wet? Is it too dry?
Will the ink be black. Will I have to do this AGAIN????
Some of the colours were beautiful, but I can't find the photos I took. Anyway, I don't think I will use any of those colours until I get better at this whole process.
Meanwhile I had my 3 plates in the acid for 60 minutes trying to get a strong aquatint. I had to use 2 lots of acrylic spray for last 20 minutes as the aquatint started to break down, but in the end it was a good coverage. 
The three plates after I had checked the colours
I then decided which plate was going to be which colour - they all looked pretty similar, so I randomly chose and wrote the colour on the back of the plate. I also had to put a mark on the front so I knew what side was the top of the plate. 
I then inked all the plates in their pure colours and printed them one on top of each other. The best sequence (in my case) was yellow, blue, red to get the best black (remember that all the primary colours mixed give black).
The next thing I had to do was to make a simple design and decide what colour (pure colour) I wanted each part of the design to be. 
I could have stopped the different plates out with bitumen or tape, but Vincenzo said it was quicker and easier to just cut out bits of paper and mask the colours. 
Here is the first plate I did - I needed to remember that blocking all the plates will give white, blocking the red and blue will give yellow and not blocking any colour will give black, and so on.
The first plate of colours
I then used different scraps of paper and placed them all over the plates and printed them together and this is the result.

The 2nd proof of colours
The next exercise involved burnishing these plates (that's why it is called a reduction exercise) and producing different colours this way. 
I drew another simple design and then copied it in light pencil onto the yellow plate as that plate was going to need the most burnishing. The design was very simple and I had to decide what colours I would be aiming for. 
This is when the earlier plates I made with the grids and the print with all the colours I made would be used as a reference. 
The colours I decided to use are; black (no burnishing!) red, blue, violet, green, light green, orange and yellow. 
I am really surprised that I understand all this, as at first I had no idea - it just shows that doing all the exercises from the beginning has made me, I don't know....smarter? Or maybe just less stupid? 

My little drawing
The yellow plate with the start of burnishing
Once I had burnished the yellow plate, I then lightly dry-pointed over the rest of the pencil marks I made. I then inked up the yellow plate with black ink, printed onto wet paper and then put the other two plates onto the press in sequence to transfer that image onto the plates.
This gave me the correct placement of the image on all three plates (well mostly correct!) 

I have been busily burnishing the three plates since last Tuesday.
I have made 2 proofs so you can see how much further along I am - they are not great art, but I am definitely learning the process.
First proof - a green sun is not really what I was aiming for.
2nd proof - I need to burnish the red and blue to get  the moon right
The plates after the 2nd proof.
I have also not been alone in the dungeon for the last week. It's not just me and the mosquitoes anymore!
Giulio and Federico have joined me and there is a lot of cursing and swearing and loud music down there now......
Giulio - he has finally finished the back grid.  
Federico wrestling with yellow


  1. Well, I afraid you've completely lost me with this multi plate colour etching. I guess you have to do it to understand it.

  2. Enjoyed hearing about Guy's visit to NZ; sadness, but much joy with the family and friends coming together. Your dad was a handsome sailor. The farm looks beautiful, some much green (and lotsa mud, too). Wonderful that you were able to spend so much time with your brother.
    Lyn's platemaking process is very complicated, but beautiful images can come out of the frustration. I love the images produced with the masks. It's the teaching of intense processes like this that makes Il Bisonte such a great school.
    Cheers, Bob

  3. Guy you have your mums smile. Wow that is a fabulous view at the farm. And Lyn I like that your colour etching looks a little like rural NZ!