Saturday, May 16, 2009

Diane Alire's "Peep Show" Demonstration

Here we are at another lovely reception to introduce Diane Alire’s recent body of work titled – daringly - “Peep Show!” It is definitely slightly x-rated work; as always, Diane covers difficult subjects such as gender and sexual orientation, but she does it with a great sense of humor and an impeccable aesthetic.

As always, several New Grounds artists volunteered to help with the reception. Here Mary Sundstrom and Denise Weaver-Ross are greeting people as they enter the gallery, while Krista Barrett answers questions in the back studio and Adabel Allen and Pamela DiMauro are, well, sometimes our artists simply just need time to catch-up!

As always, the 6:30 demonstration proves to be the highlight of the evening. Director Regina Held and Diane Alire have known each other since their days in Austin, Texas, and it was easy for Regina to introduce Diane to the waiting crowd.

Diane Alire is not only a fabulous artist, but also the gravure instructor at New Grounds. In addition, she teaches anything photography at the Albuquerque Art and Design College. Her demo for the evening is on how to create a two plate photogravure. Diane begins by showing the two transparencies from which the plates were created. Transparencies are printed on a good quality photo printer – this pretty much replaces the old oversized negatives that Stieglitz and Adams used in the early days of photogravure.

To create this particular image, “Voyeur,” Diane used Photoshop to create two plates: the key plate will hold the information to be printed in purple while the flat color plate will be printed in orange. The transparencies are exposed onto a light-sensitive polymer plate which prints like an etching once developed (the exposure is not shown in this demo due to time constraints).

Diane begins the printing process by covering the orange plate completely with ink using a brayer. Then she removes the excess ink with a tarlatan and then newsprint so that only the recessed image areas contain ink. She repeats the process with the black plate and now has two inked-up plates. Now to the difficult part: Registration!

Diane created a precise set-up sheet in which she outlined the plates exactly the way the are supposed to be printed on the paper. The orange plate is printed first; she places the plate on the press-bed, the paper goes on top of it into the marked place on the registration sheet and she runs both through the press (not shown).

Now both the printed paper and the orange plate are removed from the press bed and she continues to print “upside down.” This would not work with a copper plate, but the polymer plates are so thin that we are still able to get a good impression from a plate printed this way. Diane places the printed paper on the press bed first, thereby reversing the order of the first run. Then the black plate is placed face-down onto the image area. Diane runs this through the press as well. She makes it look so easy, all kinds of things can go wrong at this time.

And – voila – the print is completed!!!!! Good job, Diane!

If you missed the opening, Diane Alire’s show is still up until Saturday, May 30. If you have any questions about the demo or gravure don’t hesitate to contact us. And yes, we have a gravure class scheduled for July 14, 15, 16 and 17. See you soon!