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WPA Collection: Graphic Arts Processes

 

Pen Process Aquatint - An Intaglio Process


    Port of Cleveland by Kalman Kubinyi
   Pen Process Aquatint, 10 3/4" x 8 1/4"


The pen process aquatint, though it had been used most effectively by Gainsborough (1727-1788), seems to have been lost until recent times when it was rediscovered by modern artists in search of unique new mediums. In the finished proof, the pen process is similar to a pen or brush drawing. The clean copper plate is drawn on with brush or pen using a special ink that has a high sugar content. The plate is heated and a regular hard etching ground is rolled on the plate over the ink drawing. The plate is now immersed in cold water and with the help of a piece of cotton batting the ink dissolves, leaving bare copper wherever the pen or brush drawing had been. If bitten in this state, the more open places would produce cre've'. To overcome this, the plate is now put into the aquatint box and an aquatint ground is laid on the entire surface. This converts what had been brush or pen lines into areas of aquatint which are now bitten and printed in the same manner as any etching. Usually the pen process is followed up by subsequent tones of pure aquatint. The pen process is quick, comparatively easy and certain. It is capable of almost as many variations and nuances as brush and pen, but with the added charm and preciousness of a print.

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