In the first of our new series Artist’s Proof, in which we feature prints by Society members, Ruth de Monchaux ASGFA talks about her etching with aquatint Just Tulips.
“This image was a response to one of those moments when strong sunlight fell on tulips in a partially filled vase of water.
It created shadows and reflections that were just right, all of it illuminated in a mirror I have placed beside my studio window. I quickly snapped the vision before it faded.
I often use a camera to capture those moments that cannot be drawn fast enough to fix the way light distorts reflections, particularly in water. I use the photograph only as an aide–mémoire.
Most of my work has been and still is made from looking at and making ‘portraits’ of plants from my garden and memory landscapes from my youth, when I lived in north Yorkshire. These are favourite themes.
Multi-copperplate etching with aquatint is my preferred way of working. I also use an aquatint to get really good depths of tones of black in my landscapes. Multi-plates, however, allow me to use a wide variety of densely layered colours when making images of plants. I use aquatints to achieve depths of colour, and the etched line to keep the drawing or structure strong.
Lately I have been working on some abstract, rather mathematical, screen prints just to explore colour; those lovely surprises one gets by overlaying one colour with another. Sometimes shapes keep popping in and out visually.
I find them great fun to do, and very useful in making my more controlled aquatint work when I’m using several overprinting plates.
Nearly all this work is based upon plant form structures. That must be my original training as a sculptor coming to the fore.”
Editor’s note: Ruths’ work ranges from close studies of plant forms to the exploration of the most distant landscapes. Drawing, engraving, etching and screen-printing are her main working methods.
Ruth trained as a sculptor at Middlesbrough College of Art and then at the Slade, and remains as much interested in the three-dimensional qualities of her subjects as their colour. She later completed specialist courses in printmaking and surface design at The London College of Communication and botanical illustration at the Chelsea Physic Garden, and returned to both institutions as a visiting lecturer.
Ruth was also Chair of the Greenwich Printmakers and Southbank Printmakers Collectives, and was a founder member of Hampton Court Florilegium. She is a member of the Printmakers Council, and in 2012 was elected an Associate Member of the Society of Graphic Fine Art. Ruth coordinates the annual Brockley Open Studios event, which has just completed its twentieth year. For more about Ruth and her art, please see her web site here