Your prints are certainly a labour of love, using collagraph, colour viscosity and etching processes to name but a few. Could you explain in layman's terms what this involves?
I use mountboard as a plate for collagraphs. This can be cut into or found objects used to stick onto the plate before sealing it. Intaglio ink is then applied before running it through the press with dampened paper. I enjoy using colour viscosity as each print is so exciting to produce. The mountboard is inked as before with intaglio ink and rolled with two rollers in different colours and of different consistencies to create the viscosity. The collagraphs cannot produce as many prints as the mountboard will be worn down by the pressure of the steel rollers of the etching press.
My main method of printing at present is etching. I use zinc plates and apply a resist called a ground over them into which a reversed image is drawn the exposing the metal. The plate is then immersed in nitric acid to "eat" away the metal creating a drawn line. This plate then goes through many processes to create atmosphere and tone and will be immersed in acid several times before the final image is created on the plate. Intaglio ink is then applied and pushed into the grooves and lines in the metal, wiped clean trapping the ink and run through an etching press with dampened paper to reveal the final print. Colour can be applied using several plates for one image each being inked up in different colours. Another method which I tend to use is to apply colour to one plate using the method called à la poupée.
Inspiration for your work comes mainly from the rivers and bridges (particularly those along the Thames) you encounter on your travels. Do you make pilgrimages to particular locations on your wishlist or do you stumble upon and feel compelled to capture your subject matter on paper?
I am inspired by places I visit, be this locally, travelling further afield or on holiday. For many years I have walked the River Thames in various locations with family and my lovely rough collies enjoying meeting people and sketching on my travels. This has culminated in a love affair of the wonderful array of engineering feats spanning the Thames. My sketches are accompanied by a surplus of photographs and I visit many times if possible to make sure I have the right perspective, tone etc. before starting or completing an image on my plate.
Exploring the banks of the River Thames turns up surprises, particularly Kingston upon Thames which I thought would be another project so visited many times before encountering the lovely medieval Clatterynbrugge Bridge (which used to be cobbled hence the name) built over the Hogsmill River a short distance from Kingston Bridge. In the other direction, I discovered Teddington with its long weir and footbridge. I do make a determined effort to visit certain locations but exploring brings a magic of its own and encourages me to investigate further.
Who are your favourite artists/printmakers and why?
All of the prints produced by the above method are pulled off a Rochat etching press by hand and each one is a limited original print, no two are the same. It is this ability which makes printmaking so fascinating, rewarding and certainly a process of discovery.
Thank you, Elaine, for granting me this insight into your craft.
P.S. Elaine's limited original prints can be purchased here.
P.P.S. Images taken from Elaine Williams' website.