Bruce Pearson - painter and printmaker An Artist in the Natural World
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The Natural Eye 2018

Society of Wildlife Artists annual exhibition

25 Oct 2018 - 4 Nov 2018

Mall Galleries, The Mall, London SW1

Exhibition details

I’m showing a couple of works in the exhibition - Passing South Georgia at Night  and Polar Bear Swimming.  Both are carborundum and drypoint prints, each in an edition of 6.

Briefly - a drypoint is a printmaking technique created by drawing a design on a plate with a sharp, pointed needle-like instrument.  This gives the artist the freedom to use material other than metal - any smooth non-absorbent surface will do, such as plastic, glossy card or soft metals like aluminium, copper or zinc.

Drypoint is a printmaking technique that is like etching but requires no acid so the metal that is displaced from the drawn lines is not dissolved but remains where it is thrown up on either side of the scratched line. This is known as the ‘burr’ and is responsible for the soft fuzzy look of the drypoint as ink is caught in the burr as well as in the lines when the plate is inked.

The burr is particularly fragile and is worn down quickly with each successive printing, particularly if a soft metal like aluminium is used. Therefore drypoint prints tend to be quite small editions.

Carborundum is a way of building gradients of tone by mixing different textures of grit with an adhesive and painting the mixture onto a metal, card or plastic plate.  The more grit used the darker the tone and that tonal range can be extended by varying use of fine, medium or coarse grits.  

To print a carborundum print, the surface is covered in ink, and the surface wiped clean with tarlatan cloth or newspaper, leaving ink only in the texture of the carborundum. A damp piece of paper is placed on top, and the plate and paper are run through a printing press that, through pressure, transfers the ink from the recesses of the plate to the paper. Very large editions are not possible as a small amount of carborundum comes off every time it is wiped down.

Drypoint and carborundum methods are often combined, either on the same plate or registering two or more plates and printing them together as part of the same edition. Artists can take advantage of the possibilities of the direct approach that drypoint allows at the same time creating interesting tensions with the more painterly carborundum marks.