Aquatint Etching

Aquatint Etching has always been something I loved during my time at Newcastle University. Although I think it probably had more to do with the print room. Maybe it was the quality of light, drawn in from the great glass window facing over the campus. Or the exotic plants that were grown in the back corner (the prickly pear was my favourite) soaking up the heat and the light. Or the feel of an industrious room, where students experimented with new ideas and ran them through a printing press. Whatever it was, it was one of the places that I felt most at home during my third and final years. During that time, I turned my hand to different techniques; screen printing, monotype, stone lithograph. But nothing grabbed me the way that aquatint did.


Aquatint is an intaglio method, where acid is used to etch the plate. The acid creating grooves where the ink is held. Particles of acid resistant material are applied to the plate (in this case, I used acrylic spray resist, although I prefer powdered rosin) and then etched in acid. Gradations of tone are achieved by leaving the plate in the acid bath for varying lengths of time. Very quickly for lighter areas, and longer for darker areas. The acid etches around the acid resistant acrylic, which hold different amounts of ink depending on their depth. 


During the last few years, aquatint and etching has been a huge part of my practice. I’ve enjoyed teaching at Soulisquoy, as well as delivering my own artists workshops. Although with so many other projects on, it hasn’t always left a huge amount of time for my own etching work. During the last few months, I wanted to look at what has caused a shift in my practice, and where my fascination began with etching all over again.


So, I went right back to the beginning. I’ve taken a portion of today, looking through my Pinterest account, which has been active for over of 10 years. It’s interesting to see the work I’d added in the early days whilst I was still at school. The etchings in particular still resonate with me. Interestingly, the work that still stands out to me are the Lucian Freud etchings. Although they are large prints, they seem like they’ve been folded in the middle. There were etchings I’d forgotten about by Mary Cassatt another of my favourite artists when I was younger, and scratchy monotypes by Tracey Emin


For once, it’s was helpful to disappear down a Pinterest shaped rabbit hole today. It reaffirmed my love for printmaking and inspiring me for my next series of work. Although I’ve just handed in a portfolio of work to Morgan’s Gallery in Falmouth, which usually feels like falling off of a creative cliff. Whilst you’re delighted your new work has arrived safely, you’re emotionally exhausted from producing the work, but restless and uninspired to start again. Used intentionally, Pinterest may have just provided me with a lift.

But I it all began back when I visited the Lucian Freud etchings back in January. 


After seeing the Lucian Freud etchings at Tate Liverpool after Christmas, I felt my creative hiatus end. It was like someone had turned on the light and I could see again. I took along a Cambridge Imprint sketchbook, which I’d bought from Rye Art Gallery over Christmas. I managed to squeeze in enough time before the exhibition closed, working on some sketches. Although they’re totally unrelated to my aquatints and my current work at Morgans Gallery, they feel connected to the Springtime somehow. Drawing really helped me to develop my next series of work, which started with seeing those etchings. Whilst back in Orkney, I began working on the aquatints below. 

They’re not quite finished yet, and I’m working back into them with a drypoint needle to define some of the edges. But apart from that, I think we’re good to go.

Thanks for reading, love India x 


I graduated from Newcastle University in 2018, with a degree in Fine Art. I went on to train as a weaver in Orkney, and now teach weaving workshops at Orkney Creative Hub. I am a painter and have my own business, The Orkney Cloth Company.

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