Monday, May 16, 2011

Drawing on Stones


































































































































I like to think that Robert Rauschenberg was thinking of the medium of lithography when he once said "You begin with the possibilities of the material." Towards that end, here are images of my students doing just that, with the materials of lithographic crayons, rubbing crayon, gum arabic, tusche wash, spray paint & scraping with razor blades.

In the image at top, Taylor ("Dusty") Guerra is drawing an image of a fecund "Lady Madonna" on a medium sized stone. We indicate the sizes of the various stones with the colors of blue, green & red painted around their sides.

Miranda Conway split her image into a diptych via the use of a gum arabic border. To make these borders on the stones, we use "spent" amounts of gum that had been used for etching the stones. We collect them together in a large plastic jug, thus assuring that as little as possible goes to waste in the shop.

Ali Azimi sacrificed his antique VCR to create a whimsical drawing of its various component parts.

The brownish-red color on the stone in the flayed human/rabbit hybrid image is where Jonanthan Torres utilized prepared red iron-oxide paper to transfer his drawing. As you can see, the numbers he indicated are backwards, as they needed to be drawn in reverse to print correctly the right way around. He drew with the hardest litho crayons (Korn's #'s 4 & 5), which contain smaller amounts of grease, as he wanted his finished print to appear as sensitively drawn as his sketch.

Pai Chu Li began drawing on her stone using a wooden bridge, in order that the grease from her hands not adversely affect her architectural image. I often think she's channeling the spirit of Giovanni Battista Piranesi, in her equally fantastic & complex images. Because she has more experience with the medium, she's also using various mixtures of tusche to create washes. Tusche is akin to watercolor but is actually a very greasy liquid ink.

As for the # 23 written on the side of her stone...Once upon a time, we named all the stones in our shop (we had the trios of "Faith, Hope & Charity," along with "Porthos, Athos & Aramis"...the 3 Musketeers) but it became a nightmare to keep track of who was using what. We switched to the rather boring numerical system, which has been great for tracking, but not at all imaginative or literary.

The generous gum arabic border around the stone's edges allows for a place for the scraper bar on the press to start & stop. It also is the area where the "T & bar" marks are made by cutting into the stone with a razor blade to insure for correct paper registration & borders.



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