Having just completed the five-day photogravure workshop at Renaissance Press, my head is still spinning from the quantity of information we received and from the giddy experience of being introduced to a process so rich with possibilities. I would love to go back and repeat the whole thing all over again because I imagine that each time he teaches it, Paul imparts different details and creative approaches to the foundation we covered in class.
We started with crafting digital positives and the application of Paul’s linearization technique to take into account paper, chemistry, workflow and equipment to create a print to accurately express our artistic intent. I have been trying to pin down this process for a long time and I found Paul’s approach to be relatively clear and intuitive. From there we learned how to work with photogravure tissue, exposing and transferring the tissue, developing, and etching the copper plates. And finally, the joy of learning how paper, ink, inking and wiping techniques provide a whole new array of variables to play with the final expression of the print.
Paul went above and beyond for our small group (which included both seasoned printmakers and photographers) – answering eternal questions (mine), providing trouble-shooting and printing suggestions, and treating us to demos of chine-collé, metal plating, and color rolls. From what I experienced in the workshop, Paul’s approach is built on a mastery of the technical but is guided by a love for the artistry of the process. He is not deterred by the unexpected. He has the ability to improvise that comes from deep knowledge of his material. And he is a generous teacher.
Part of the fun of the workshop is being surrounded by work that he has printed and getting a better sense of the variety of contemporary expressions of the process. I enjoyed seeing how it worked with the styles of other participants and collaborating with Paul’s assistant Anna to figure out how it could work with mine. Now that I am home, I feel like I have been deposited on the tip of an iceberg – and I am both excited and grateful for having received the tools to begin to explore it.