About my work




About Plaster Prints

Artist in Residence - Quetico Provincial Park July 2008


I have spent my  life surrounded by the Boreal Forest and have dedicated the past 5 years of my art career  to chronicling the beauty of the forest. Normally, my paintings are on panel which I coat and texture with gesso.  They require no frame as they have a 1 1/2" edge built around and painted as a part of the whole. I paint with oils as if they were watercolor, rubbing the oil in (and off) to create translucent washes of color mixed with deep darks for strong contrast.

In the summer of 2008, I was an “Artist in Residence” (along with my partner Peter Humeniuk) at Quetico Provincial Park – one of Ontario’s wilderness parks in the Boreal Forest.

 The Boreal is our northern rainforest.  Can the earth afford to lose it?

The Natural Resources Defense Council (H.O. N.Y./NY) “The Boreal Forest: Earth’s Green Crown.  Canada’s vast boreal forest is among the largest intact forest ecosystems left on earth, and must be preserved.” 

Greenpeace:  “The Ancient Forests/The Boreal Forest: North America’s Wilderness.  Stretching across North America from eastern Alaska to Labrador, the Boreal Forest has evolved for over 10,000 years.  It is, by far, the largest tract of ancient forest left on the continent. … Representing 25% of the world’s remaining ancient forests … the Boreal Forest must be protected to help stop global warming.”
Etchings & Collagraphs

Below is a fairly comprehensive description of some printmaking techniques (for anyone who is interested).  Click here for a more simplified explanation of printmaking and a description of the process I use to make prints on plaster :)


Intaglio Printing

Intaglio comes from the Italian word intagliare, meaning "to incise." In intaglio printing, an image is incised with a pointed tool or "bitten" with acid into a metal plate, usually copper or zinc. The plate is covered with ink, and then wiped so that only the incised grooves contain ink. The plate and a dampened sheet of paper are then run through a press together to create the print. Usually the paper sheet is larger than the plate so that the physical impress of the plate edges, or the platemark, shows on the paper. The ink on the print tends to be slightly raised above the surface of the paper.

The intaglio family of printmaking techniques includes engraving, drypoint, mezzotint, etching, aquatint, and spitbite aquatint.

Engraving is a process in which a plate is marked or incised with a tool called a burin. A burin works on a copper plate like a plow on a field. As it is moved across the plate, copper shavings, called burr, are forced to either side of the lines being created and these are usually cleaned from the plate before inking. An engraved line may be deep or fine, has a sharp and clean appearance and tapers to an end. The process is slow and painstaking and generally produces formal-looking results.

 Drypoint prints are created by scratching a drawing into a metal plate with a needle or other sharp tool. The technique allows the greatest freedom of line, from the most delicate hairline to the heaviest gash. In drypoint the burr is not scraped away before printing but stays on the surface of the plate to print a velvety cloud of ink until it is worn away by repeated printings. Drypoint plates (particularly the burr on them) wear more quickly than etched or engraved plates and therefore allow for fewer satisfactory impressions and show far greater differences from first impression to last.

Mezzotint is a technique of engraving areas of tone rather than lines. In this method, the entire surface of the plate is roughened by a spiked tool called a rocker so that, if inked at that point, the entire plate would print in solid black. The artist then works "from black to white" by scraping or burnishing areas so that they will hold less or no ink, yielding modulated tones. Because of its capabilities for producing almost infinite gradations of tone and tonal areas, mezzotint has been the most successful technique for the black-and-white adaptation of oil-painted images to the print medium.

 Etching has been a favored technique for artists for centuries, largely because the method of inscribing the image is so similar to drawing with a pencil or pen. An etching begins with a metal plate (originally iron but now usually copper) that has been coated with a waxy substance called a "ground." The artist creates the composition by drawing through the ground with a stylus to expose the metal. The plate is then immersed in an acid bath, which "bites" or chemically dissolves the metal in the exposed lines. For printing, the ground is removed, the plate is inked and then wiped clean. It is then covered with a sheet of dampened paper and run through a press, which not only transfers the ink but forces the paper into the lines, resulting in the raised character of the lines on the impression. Etched lines usually have blunt rather than tapering ends.

Aquatint is an etching process concerned with areas of tone rather than line. For this technique, the plate is covered with a ground or resin that is granular rather than solid (as in etching) and bitten, like etching, with acid. The acid bites between the granules. The design, wholly in tonal areas not line, is produced by protecting certain areas of the plate from the acid with an impervious varnish, by multiple bitings to produce different degrees of darkness, and by the use of several different resins with different grains.

Spitbite Aquatint involves painting strong acid directly onto the aquatint ground of a prepared plate. Depending upon the time the acid is left on the plate, light to dark tones can be achieved. To control the acid application, saliva, ethylene glycol or Kodak Photoflo solution can be used. Traditionally, a clean brush was coated with saliva, dipped into nitric acid and brushed onto the ground, hence the term "spitbite." An earlier but related technique, usually called lavis, involved painting the plate directly with acid, essentially drawing with acid rather than ink, and then washing it off when the desired effect had been achieved. Used usually -- and only by certain artists -- in conjunction with etching, there are few known prints of pure lavis work.


Collagraph takes its name from the French colle, meaning glue, and the Greek graphos, meaning drawing. An image is composed from a variety of textured materials glued onto a solid base such as cardboard or wood. This is the matrix. The plate may be printed as a relief by rolling ink onto the surface or, alternatively, it may be printed as an intaglio by spreading the ink over the entire matrix and then wiping it off the raised surface. Paper is placed over the inked plate and it is run through a press or printed with hand pressure to transfer the ink. Essentially, it is a print from a collage.

Monotype/Monoprint As their names imply, monotypes and monoprints (the words are often used interchangeably but shouldn't be) are prints that have an edition of one, though sometimes a second, weaker impression can be taken from the matrix. A monotype is made by drawing a design in printing ink on any smooth surface, then covering that matrix with a sheet of paper and passing it through a press. The resulting image will be an exact reverse of the original drawing, but relatively flatter because of the pressure of the press. A monoprint is made by taking an already etched and inked plate and adding to the composition by manipulating additional ink on the surface of the plate. This produces an impression different in appearance from a conventionally printed impression from the same plate. Since it is virtually impossible to manipulate the additional ink twice the same way, every monoprint impression will be different from every other one. Degas made monotypes; Whistler made monoprints.

Prints on Plaster
Click the link above to learn how I make prints on plaster.


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Copyright © 2009 Pauline Horricks Artist
Last modified: March 08, 2014