In Progress ~ Testing Phase
This is a quiet period for my blogging, I have not been idle, however. I have completed eight portfolios of work in six hand coating processing. Printing will continue, over time, as I select images out of a very large pool of images that merit printing. Where my focus will be directed is on the gum printing. Those are the most difficult and time consuming prints to make, and the fewest of all the prints.
When I began making gum prints in 1983 it was all about trying to get as close to realism as possible. The beginning point as put forth in "Keepers of Light", where I learned to begin hand coating, was a CYMK four layer print, using those colors, or the closest one could find. After a dozen or more gum prints I finally arrived at a process that worked with the gum I was making. In those days one could finagle a 1000g container of raw gum crystals from any gum supplier. Sumatran Acacia gum was so pure there was no real opacity to it. Just clear.
My standard gum mixture has always been 50% solution, by mixture weight; 50g gum Arabic to 100ml distilled water. This is fairly thick. It holds up well for holding color with no staining, based upon a sizing of a 2 1/2% gelatin sizing (120 deg) twice. Those two fit well using Arches hot press watercolor paper. I am now working with Revere Platinum rag paper. I am looking for a good baseline for sizing level using that pre sized paper; for palladium/silver printing of course.
Beginning with the first un-sized attempt returned total staining. Next up will be a single pass of 2 1/2% gelatin sizing. Second sheet will get another sizing pass using the 2 1/2% gelatin solution. I want to see where the floating affects the highlights. I will also be thinning the gum for some applications. The commercial pre-mixed gum comes in 14 Baume, which I have only seen one conversion to that in % solution which stated 14 baume is = 35%, which is a bit higher than what I had suspected; at about 30%. That just alters the amount of color one can use.
I have followed the original intent of gum printing, to arrive at realism, in my own perspective, which has to do with the colors used, and the order. I abandoned the CYMK method when I picked up where I left off, when I began printing two years ago. I have kept to the original intent of realism but altered the applications of color. I reversed the CYMK order to arrive at different endings, depending on the demands of the image. This time I applied color(s) that to me represented what I wanted it to look like, sometimes covering the entire image, most times applied more locally for maximum separation of tonalities using color. The basic theme has been warm and cool tones representing the overall image.
I have completed two portfolios of gum over palladium prints, using this method. I have five completed gum prints now. I am now on a different trajectory. I am no longer interested in printing to realism. I am now working on Impressionism. Having spent my night's ceiling time invested in working out how that might be done is paying off. The work now is knowing the baselines of gum mixture and sizing level. I already know my print time and commensurate float time, using the <curve> made for the gum prints.
I have been wanting to break away from traditional printing since I began. I just didn't know what it was I was after, exactly. Then I saw Claude Monet's "Impression - Sunrise". Then I knew. That is what I want to do. Now I know how. As always one must work themselves into any new avenue of endeavor. Hence my casual yet precise manner of attack. After thirty five years of printing, the urges that drive the passion have been tempered enough not to get in a hurry.
Any image I make now will be unique, regardless of process. I have always believed when the word art is used, the work should be unique and rare. Collectable. The expectation from the artist's side is that the work is archival quality and the finest the printer can do. From the viewer's perspective there are three criteria for purchasing said print. The image itself is sufficiently desirable to purchase, it is unique and rare enough to be worth selling price, and, they have enough money to make the purchase. Having a certificate of authenticity adds to the quality of the transaction as well. But that's just me.
Being I am in a testing mode, with nothing but a stained sheet to show for there aren't any visuals to shoe. I posted earlier gums, color layer at a time to show what the process looks like over the printing. I stopped when it became redundant. I my start that up again however, now that I'll be working on a totally different direction. I do believe it would be interesting for current traditional gum printers. Time will tell.