Thursday, March 17, 2011
Jessica Weybright’s gravure seduces with soft colors and haunting images
Jessica Weybright definitely surpassed herself in this third solo exhibition at New Grounds. Her new semi-abstract images are an interesting mixture of graveyard sculptures and floral imagery. The tight cropping, inventive juxtapositions, and unexpected color choices transform what could have been a very predictable set of images into one that is seductive and hauntingly beautiful.
Over the many years that Jessica has created art at New Grounds, she has mastered all printmaking techniques from monotype to etching and collagraph. This is her first show of gravure which lends itself beautifully to her subject matter. Jessica demonstrated a two plate gravure process in front of a packed house.
She begins by showing the transparencies she made to generate the two separate plates. In gravure, an image is generated by exposing a photo positive or transparency to a photo polymer plate via a high powered light. Artists need to do extensive testing to determine the exact exposing time for each image. The exposed plate is developed in water and can be printed almost immediately. It is important to understand that photo etchings are not a means of reproducing existing photographs or drawings. Photographs that will become the base for the photo etching usually need to be shot and developed differently than for photographic prints.
Today, transparencies are computer generated and printed on inkjet printers which replace the large scale negatives used originally when the process was developed in the 19th century. Jessica stresses the importance of marking the backs of the plates with the exposure time and printing sequence of the image to avoid mix-ups later.
Jessica’s image is created out two plates, one is the positive, the other the negative of the same image. The positive will be printed in sepia, the negative in yellow. The printing is done as follows: First the plates are coved completely in ink using a brayer. The excess ink is removed using first a tarlatan (a very stiff cheese cloth) and then newsprint. The plates are ready for printing if only the recessed areas of the plate contain ink.
Jessica first prints the negative plate. She places the plate on the press bed and places a sheet of Hahnemuhle printing paper on top of it. When she runs them trough the press, the ink is transferred to the paper. In order to print the second plate she places it upside down on top of the paper she just printed – this way she is very sure of her registration. The polymer plates are so thin that there is no loss of detail if the plate is printed upside down. Jessica now runs the second plate through the press and – voila – we have a finished print. If she was to create more impressions of this image she would have repeat the inking and printing process – these kind of old-fashioned printmaking processes are completely hand-made.
Tanyaand Kathe Noe
Jessica and her friends
Not only was Jessica’s reception well attended, but it turned into a college reunion of sorts! It was a fun event! Thank all of you for coming out to see her work, and a big thanks to all of our volunteers such as Kathe Noe, Beth Kassay and Mary Sundstrom who greeted and answered questions. The photographs were taken by Jeff Simpson and Mike Rudahl. If you missed the reception, the show will run until March 26. www.newgroundsgallery.com.