SOFT GROUND NUDES
Soft ground etching differs from mainstream etching in that the wax resist rolled over the copper plate to protect it from the acid never sets. Hard ground has to be removed with a fine point or needle and the print is characterised by fine lines; tones are conveyed by a parallel or criss crossing lines (hatching) and depth (controlled by the length of time the plate is bitten).
Soft ground is far closer to the natural action of drawing with a pencil. Thin paper or tissue is laid over the wax ground and the image is drawn with a pencil - the texture of the paper presses into the wax and when it is removed the wax will stick to the paper leaving the drawn lines on the plate exposed to the acid. A limited amount of tonal control can be achieved by the pressure of drawing and this can then be overdrawn and bitten further.
ARTIST & PRINTMAKER
Soft Ground etchings
One of the foremost figurative artists working today, Lucian Freud (British, born Germany 1922) has redefined portraiture and the nude through his unblinking scrutiny of the human form. Although best known as a painter, etching has become integral to his practice. Freud is not a traditional printmaker. He treats the etching plate like a canvas, standing the copper upright on an easel. He typically depicts the same sitters in etching as in painting.
This etching is part of a series exploring the story of Salome. I chose this subject because of the challenges rendering veils and drapery present to etching on copper plate. I wanted to explore the transparency and flowing element in these details, having been inspired by similar textures successfully conveyed in marble. Eschewing the use of aquatint in these works, the final image is achieved by redrawing the whole work many times on the same plate using both hard and soft ground, biting in acid each time, and building up the image tonally using many layers of interlaced lines.
Limited edition soft ground etching hand printed from copper plate.
Etching (6” x 4”) edition of 25
Limited edition soft and hard ground etching
12” x 8” Edition of 40