We launched this new Mezzotint course in 2019, despite being a very unique course, where you really spend time and attention slowing down to create each plate, it was a huge success so we’re thrilled to be offering it again in 2020.
Mezzotint, otherwise known as la manière noire, is an intaglio print method perfected in the mid 17C. It is a form of tonal engraving in which the artist works from dark to light, pulling the forms of her design out of a uniquely velvety black. Sarah Gillespie’s art career started in Paris in the early 80s. When I arrived back at my father’s house in the June, I think he – a first generation Irish immigrant – took one look at me and said, ‘well, if you’re going to be an artist, you’d better go to Paris’.
I remember being bundled into the car at 4.00 am one morning, with my portfolio in the back and setting off for Calais”. There Sarah spent a year studying 16&17C methods and materials at the Atelier Neo-Medici and says it was “an unbelievable education.”
After Paris Sarah went to Oxford to the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art for three years and has since exhibited extensively. She is a a Royal West of England Acadamician and represented by Baux Arts Bath.
During the Mezzotint process the copper plate is first prepared so that it will print an even, deep black. This is done by pitting its surface systematically with a serrated chisel-like tool, known as a rocker, to create a more or less uniform mesh of grooves and raised burrs that hold the ink. The design emerges by gradually smoothing the burr with scrapers and burnishers so that different areas of the plate will hold different quantities of ink and therefore print softly graded tones of black through grey to white. A scraper is used to remove large areas of burr, and a burnisher for more delicate work. Highlights are achieved by burnishing the plate quite smooth so that when it is wiped no ink remains on these areas.
No other print method gives up quite such magical softness in the highlights, nor such an utter inky darkness.
Focusing on just a few locations and subjects Gillespie draws us into a world where we find ourselves mesmerised by moments of everyday beauty and interconnectedness….The charcoal and ink Gillespie uses to conjure up these intricate drawings perfectly capture the fleeting character of her subject matter, their essentially fugitive and fluid substance leaving a trace that seems to caress the paper rather than physically imposing itself on the surface. She can achieve the most dazzling darks imaginable with charcoal, but there is always the feeling that these areas of intense black are on the cusp of dissolving into light, or being blown away on a gust of wind. ‘Gillespie allows us to see things in almost forensic detail, and yet as we look at these drawings and investigate the worlds they bring to light, we come to realise a startling truth – that Gillespie is in reality an abstract artist. Her works are not about making faithfully accurate copies of the physical world. They are about making visible the invisible and giving form to the intangible.- Revd. Richard Davey
We will have a selection of scrapers and burnishers that you can borrow but if you have your own please bring them with you NB We will sharpen these for you.
Please also bring: an apron, a sketchbook and your preferred drawing materials, a putty rubber and other erasers, images, drawings/photographs/objects to work from and any special paper that you would like to print on.
All other standard papers and equipment, plates etc will be provided.