Studio Process: Evan Summer

The following is a guest-post by Evan Summer. Evan was invited, along with some other artists, to contribute to a new Printeresting series called Studio Process. While not intended to be overly-technical, the idea is to see some behind-the-scenes pictures on the way a piece develops. This is the first post in what will hopefully be an ongoing series.

Evan Summer, Landscape LV, Collagraph, 2012.

Collagraphs have interested me since my first undergraduate printmaking course. I studied with Harvey Breverman who taught printmaking at the State University of NY at Buffalo. He suggested I make an embossment with cardboard rather than zinc. Soon I was gluing papers and fabric to matboard bases. These were coated with acrylic medium, inked like an etching and printed on an etching press. Even though I do mostly etchings now, I enjoy the dark textural quality of the collagraph prints as well as the challenge of constructing the plate, especially a large 36” x 48” plate like this.

My collagraph plates went through stages. The first ones were made on matboard and I used Elmer’s Glue as an adhesive. As I continued working with collagraphs, I began to emphasize the plate more than the print – I really thought of myself as a plate maker more than a printmaker, and often liked the plates more than the prints. I looked for stronger, more permanent materials that would stay flat. I avoided rubber-based glues like contact cement. They aren’t very permanent and were very badly affected by the solvents used to clean the plates. One attempt during grad school ended as a sticky mess even though I thought it was well sealed with acrylic medium.

Plate in Progress

Matboard is a good base for small collagraph plates, but for a plate this size I wanted something stronger. I had some printed circuit board material that is mostly Micarta with extremely thin copper on the face and back. It’s less than 1/16” thick. Perfect for a collagraph base. The copper surface didn’t make any difference to me since it was too thin to etch. But having it as the surface of the base meant I had to use epoxy as an adhesive.

Tracing Shapes

Lots more text and images after the jump.


Gluing with Epoxy

I had a preliminary drawing but the plate soon took on a life of its own. I started drawing on the base and cut the shapes from paper, mostly bristol board. Moving them around helped me visualize the evolving image. These pieces were glued into place and then additional cuts were made to create detail. I also used carborundum to create rough areas. Keeping the plate thin and flat is essential. The paper surfaces had to be coated to make them impervious to ink and solvents. I used the epoxy adhesive as a coating in some parts and thinned acrylic medium or polyurethane varnish in others. Thicker gloss and gel acrylic mediums were later applied in some areas too.Scraping and Sanding

A Lot of Ink

Printing was done on a motorized Takach Garfield etching press. I tried a couple different inks and ended up using my own mixture. My choice of paper was limited by the size of the plate and I used rolled hot pressed Lanaquarelle watercolor paper. I’ve found thick etching papers to work best for these collagraph plates.

Wiping the Plate

Landscape LV Plate on the Pressbed

Christina Taylor Assisting with Printing

Christina Checking Out a Proof

Touching Up

I titled this print Landscape LV and I did significant additional plate work after proofing.  It involved more gluing, scraping, sanding and coating with acrylic medium. The plates can be changed easily after proofing, adding flexibility to the medium.

There were changes that needed to be made for technical reasons too. There were some air bubbles trapped in the epoxy and these were depressed by the pressure of printing. I had to fill them with paste epoxy. It was also necessary to re-coat some parts where the inks and solvents got through the coatings.

My platemaking methods, inking and resulting printed surfaces have evolved along with my architectural landscape imagery. I try to create a moody quality. Some, like this print, border on abstraction, while others are more realistic. I want to continue with this type of imagery, but to combine the collagraph techniques with etching.

-Evan Summer, May 2012

Finished Collagraph Plate

Evan Summer, Landscape LV, Collagraph, 2012.

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Categories: Studio Visit

6 Responses to “Studio Process: Evan Summer”

  1. Luther says:

    I did a lot of collographs when I first started printmaking. It was one of the things that got me hooked.

  2. Evan’s work has had an important impact on anyone who has had the opportunity to set it. I have been lucky enough to watch him work on etching and collagraph plates since the early 1980’s under a variety of working conditions, in several shops and on different presses. Each time I was present I found Evan to be an artist of singular vision and secure in sharing his talent with others. Great idea to bring him to your series and I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to see him working in a space worthy of his vision. The photos are great really represent the process well. Having said that, one missing element that can’t be seen in a photograph might be the skill and finesse that Evan brings to the printing of his plates. His collagraphic plates are simply made but subtle I their execution. The printing is a reflection of their complexity. The difference between a lush, rich deposit of ink on the paper and an over wiped, bone dry proof can be only the difference of a pass or two of the hand. I have always admired this about Evan’s work, especially with his collagraphs. He has made what amounts to a grade school cut and paste project into a subtle under recognized art form that every printmaker should try. Evan has truly made it his own. It is simply great to see others have the opportunity I have had to witness Evan working. What he has casually shared with me over the years is the type of influence that all young artists need. His students are very lucky. Thanks Evan. It’s always great to see what you’re working on! Michael Morin

  3. Yeah Evan and Christina! Represent Studio 108!

    I like that Evan says that he feels more like a platemaker than a printmaker when he works with collographs. Well stated.

  4. I love the idea of the Studio Process series – this was an amazing first entry!

  5. This is terrific, Evan, printmakers…process – thank you!

  6. Ron Rumford says:

    This is a bit of a surprise–I think of Evan as a etching man and a master at that. It’s good to see more and a different approach. Love the scale, too.