“If at first you don’t succeed, try and try and try again…and then you might succeed.”
This was my mantra for about two weeks solid as I prepared and printed more mezzotint plates as a continuation of work I made during a workshop in early February. I have built up a love/hate relationship with Mezzotint, mainly due to the fact that I have found it increasingly hard to actualise any of my ideas in a way sympathetic to the medium. I love the amount of physical work that goes into preparing the plates, and especially the plates I have been using as I first had to cut and then file them into small 7cm discs before scoring each surface and after that scraping and creating an image into the surfaces. I also enjoy the minimal amount of chemicals used in Mezzotint production. Much like drypoint, preparing the plate is chemical free, and only a light use of cleaning fluids is used during the printing process. Good news for the environment, and even better news for my poor hands! These points aside, mezzotint for me is an incredibly frustrating process; one which I find hard to control. In many cases the images I ended up producing were so far from the initial ideas that I ended up preparing the plate again and starting the image afresh. As previously mentioned it took me a good two weeks to forge some sort of bond with my mezzotint work, and even then the results I have managed are far from perfect. But at least they are the start of what I hope to be a skill that I will continue to persevere with and develop over time.
I am drawn to any exercise that involves deep concentration and commitment, and enjoy spending hours and hours working and learning a new skill to then be rewarded by the glimmer of hope that perhaps I might be getting better. After a very slow and cackhanded start I was set to give up on the process in the first few days in favour of returning to the faster pace of aquatint. However after a good deal of self motivation and old fashioned stubbornness I finally began to understand how to use the tools to my advantage and things started to slowly slip into place as far as technique was concerned. After many a day hunched over these tiny prints and a lot of testing and proofing, I have finally got a small series of four prints that I am happy enough to consider keeping, and hope to continue and expand upon this series in the coming weeks.
Mezzotint on 7cm diameter copper plates. ©Lily C Urbanska