What a great weekend we had last week. It started on the Friday evening with a talk by Ali Yanya who showed us some of his work and talked about his techniques and processes. He also gave us some background; he studied in Istanbul and at the Royal College of Art where Tracy Emin and the Chapman Brothers were his contemporaries. He talked also about the themes in his work and about how he draws every day to keep his hand in. This is something I really need to get into the habit of. It was a fascinating talk and a perfect start to the masterclass.
The course itself ran through Saturday and Sunday; Ali began by having us make a monoprint of the image we were going make a drypoint from. The monoprint was to enable us to get to know our image - the form, tone, light and dark - before we started on the drypoint itself. I've dabbled with monoprinting before but never been able to get it to work properly; last weekend, I discovered why - too much ink. With just a thin layer on the plate, I was able to make the above monoprint. I could get addicted.
Then on to the drypoint itself (see the finished print above). I thought I knew how to make drypoints but last weekend was a revelation; I felt like I knew nothing. Having only ever made them on perspex and renalon, working on aluminium with roulette wheels, needles and mezzotint rockers was a whole new experience. I was able to get a really expressive, 'drawing-like' effect, similar to my own rather loose style of drawing. It's great! Again, I may well be addicted. I struggled with wiping the plate though, consistently over-wiping. Etchers have to put aside the usual practise of taking off as much ink as possible; to get the richest, velvety colours, a lot of ink is left on a drypoint plate which is wiped selectively to bring out contrast. Ali Yanya almost draws or paints with the scrim when wiping. This particular aspect of drypoint printing is going to take me a while to master I think.
All in all, an intense, rewarding weekend that really stretched me as a printmaker. This is a good thing as it's so easy to get complacent about ones work and skills. Ali is an excellent tutor, patient, encouraging and very generous with his knowledge. If you ever get a chance to go on one of his courses, GO. You won't regret it.