Wednesday, May 14
Etchings of Eden
Plants from California's Wild and Cultivated Gardens by Stephanie Martin | May – Aug.
The remarkable and rigorous art of etching will be featured in the exhibition Etchings of Eden: Plants from California's Wild and Cultivated Gardens by Stephanie Martin. Martin's intaglio etchings depict some of the state's most exquisite native and cultivated flora – their lovely architecture and design rendered in fine detail.
Stephanie Martin lives in Santa Cruz and is a painter and printmaker. She studied California botany in college and after 20 years as an educator, began studying art eventually becoming best known for her striking etchings of the natural world.
"I have long appreciated wild places and creatures," says Martin, "but my art work has given me even greater regard for the design and diversity of nature."
Martin's intaglio prints are made using copper plates and traditional etching techniques: hard ground, soap ground, and rosin aquatint. Her medium of etching is perfect for rendering the fine details of design and architecture of plants although it is painstaking and sometimes unpredictable. Because of the handmade nature of the intaglio print, slight differences are inevitable, and each print is considered an original piece of art.
A member of the California Society of Printmakers, Stephanie exhibits primarily in California, and her work is held in private collections around the world.
The exhibit will feature botanical portraits of subjects such as Douglas iris, wild ginger, ferns, sweet peas and pomegranates, as well as images integrating California flowering plants and the birds that depend on them.
About etching from the artist
The technique of etching dates back to the Renaissance, and is a laborious and mercurial process in which acid is used to 'etch' lines or texture into a metal plate. A plate is coated with a protective layer ('hard ground'), and a design is drawn. The plate is immersed in the acid bath, and the acid etches grooves where the copper has been exposed. A longer immersion in the tank creates a deeper groove, and a darker line in the image.
Another etching technique is aquatint, which creates tonal areas. An even dusting of rosin is melted onto the plate, creating a matrix of tiny acid-resistant dots. The artist brushes hard ground to mask areas of the plate to be preserved white. The plate is then dipped repeatedly into the acid for various time increments, with more and more masking painted on after each immersion.
Unlike relief printmaking, in which the ink is rolled onto the surface of the matrix, in intaglio printing the ink is pushed into the grooves of the matrix, and the plate is carefully wiped to remove the surface ink. The plate is placed on the press bed, covered with damp paper and felt blankets, and submitted to great pressure. The plate is again hand-inked and wiped for each print in the limited edition.
General Exhibit Information
The Helen Crocker Russell Library of Horticulture is recognized as one of the finest horticultural resources in the nation. Its 27,000-volume collection ranges from new gardening titles to antique herbals. The Library is open, free of charge, from 10am–4pm, every day except Tuesdays and major holidays.
Exhibitions of plant- and garden-related drawings, paintings, photographs and educational displays run for four-month periods. The artwork in our exhibitions are available for sale, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the Library. For more information, call (415) 661-1316 ext. 403.