John Hartman

John Hartman: London, 2008

London, 2008, spit bite etching with sugar lift aquatint, hard ground etching and drypoint, 13 x 14 inches (paper 22 x 24 inches), suite of 4

The City

A watercolour brush loaded with acid is floating across the resin-pebbled surface of a copper plate. It immediately bites. The plate is inked and a dampened sheet of paper is laid over it. It is run through the press. The paper is lifted and there is a mark of wonderful delicacy. Now imagine a needle sliding through a thin layer of wax on the copper plate describing the shapes of buildings, roads and bridges, with thin sharp lines. Etch this lightly and you have the perfect line to combine with the watery brushstrokes.

Print all four plates, each with a separate colour onto exactly the same spot on a sheet of dampened paper. Look at the resulting proof and discuss the possible paths forward with the master printer. Remove some marks with a burnisher. Add more spit bite. Emphasize some lines with the rich thick line of drypoint. Remix the colours of the printing ink. Make trial proofs at every stage.

I want to move more quickly. The master printer, Greg Burnet, slows me down. We meet halfway and create a new way of combining these complex techniques. We now can use my fearlessness in making marks in combination with his precision and subtlety. We have created something unexpected and we are both very happy.

The City is suite of four spit bite etchings with sugar-lift aquatint, hard-ground etching and drypoint, by John Hartman. Published by Nicholas Metivier Gallery and the artist. Printed at Burnet Editions in New York by Greg Burnet in 2008 and 2009. An edition of thirty with five artist’s proofs.