Hand Tinting.

Hand tinting drypoint prints

It’s a couple of years now since the start of the Covid-19 emergency and although things might feel like they have returned to some kind of “normal” the experience has probably had a lasting effect on many people’s lives – even if only in a subtle way.

One of the subtle changes that affected my artwork was due to periods when I couldn’t have access to Double Elephant Print Workshop largely due to it being sited in a public building. As a result of having to stay home more I found myself resorting to adding watercolour to older drypoint prints. Now it would feel like the task is half done if I didn’t finish of with some watercolour.

John Martin mezzotint
The Great Day of His Wrath mezzotint

By the way – hand tinting is actually a traditional thing to do to intaglio prints such as etchings and mezzotints. Indeed, during my time studying Conservation of Prints and Drawings in the 80’s I had the privilege of treating a hand tinted mezzotint of John (“mad”) Martin’s “The Great Day of His Wrath”. Reproducing famous paintings through printmaking was a popular way of making artwork accessible to more people. The Mezzoting of “The Great Day of His Wrath” was created in 1856 to reproduce John Martin’s oil painting a couple of years after Martin’s death.

I might be a little strange, but I enjoy the challenge of tinting a whole edition of prints. I like them to look fairly close to each other without losing spontaneity and the nuance that marks the handmade as true originals rather than reproduction “prints”.

Hand tinting Fox drypoint
Hand tinting Fox drypoint

Here’s some links to sets of photos where you can see some before and afters for some simple animal editions…

Hand tinting Dormouse

Hand tinting Hedgehog

Hand tinting Robin

Hand tinting Owl – Film

Hand tinting Hare + film

Butterflies & bees

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If you would like some practical tip on how I do my hand tinting, I actually made a rather cringe worthy video in April 2020. I might be uncomfortable talking to camera, but it does have some tips in there! Go on, take a look!

And these photos give you a glimpse of the process from composition to hand tinting for a more complicated drypoint with monoprint…

Hare in the long grass drypoint and monoprint preparation
Hare in the long Grass composition
Hare in the Long Grass being printed
Hare in the Long Grass being printed
Hare in the long grass being tinted
2 Versions of Hare in the Long Grass being tinted