I love etching. I haven’t done a “real” etching in about 40 years; since high school. We had a brand new state-of-the-art printing press. It had been installed in 1978 and here I was, a couple years later in advanced art classes with the finest teacher I ever had, Mr. O’Hara. At the time I did not think I liked the man, he was always on my case, pushing me and prodding me to expand my horizons. All I wanted to do was get high and draw my trippy burnout monsters. These were the days of Frank Frazetta and Heavy Metal The Movie; my dreams were filled with animation and album covers. But Mr. O’Hara had this printing press. And he intended to make me use it.
First it was wood cuts. Hmmmm…This was pretty cool. One block, lots of options, different colors, placements and copies! Prints everywhere! I had written a poem about a nuclear holocaust, Mr. O’Hara had us make a book…I was impressed, and so were my Peers and parents. Which was unbelievable, they never turned the TV off long enough to know what color my hair was any given month. (It was many different colors, but not like today. We just had blue/black and red and blonde… I tried them all.) Getting back to the printing press, my curiosity was really piqued. Then we did a lino cut…again, very cool. I was into it now. Then he gave us some history and some homework.
Etching. Renaissance. Rembrandt. Etching. Albrecht Durer. Zinc Plate etchings. I was enthralled: Oh the detail. The crazy details. It was better than smoking dope! I am so grateful today to have had the chance to be taught by Mr. O’Hara. I have often wished I could contact him and thank him for pushing me. He really cared, and I will always be indebted to him for seeing who I could be.
These pieces aren’t etchings, they are oil pastel sgrafitto. To me, though, they have the feel of etchings. The tiny lines, intricate detail. Not like a finished etching, but those wonderful moments when you are scratching the eensy-weensy picture onto the plate. I have even gone so far as to ‘etch’ a lamp globe and a mannequin in the past few years! Oh, the long lost love of mine!!