Using the previous idea of looking at shapes that were either created by the lithograph materials or that could be within the materials, I focused on using toner and tusche wash, pooling them onto the surface of the stone and letting them dry I created the base for the piece.


Looking at the pattern that was created it reminded me of seaweed and coral, instead of outlining the patterns and making them into these plants I thought that a crustacean that lives in this environment would be more effective !With a shrimp in mind I set out , drawing the creature, instead of creating a dark body for the animal I left it relatively transparent with the washes underneath still visible, this adhered to the shrimps actual features as well. The below image is a photograph of the piece before the final touches were added to the creature and background.


The piece before it was fully completed!

Once completed the stone received its first etch, due to the toner not being cured as it should have been, some of the colours has been removed, in an attempt to darken the piece it has been left for a couple of weeks. After it has been printed as it is I think that I may go back and counter etch it and add some more contrast to the background.Keep an eye out for the finished piece! Any comments are welcomed!

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The stone receiving its first etch…


Under the sea…..

Sea Urchins. This was the creature that I had set my sights on for my next lithograph. Although I could have decided to depict the urchin with spines, the bare dried shell interested me more as I thought it could translate to the materials of the lithograph much more effectively.After using toner, tusche washes and some lithographic ink I scraped back into the piece to create a interesting background that was more intricate and decorative than the actual urchin, this was to create a contrasting scene with the simplistic shell. It was only after I had finished it all that the lecturer reminded me that the toner needed to be set onto the limestone surface. Luckily all was not lost and I was able to cure it with some lighter fluid that was poured over it, as to how it cures it I am not sure and my lecturer didn’t seem to be too certain either! This stone now has its first etch on and is nearly ready to be printed!


Sea Urchin, nearly ready to be printed!

Nathaniel Sparks- Adam

As part of my Art History print module,we were asked to explore the collection at the University of Aberystwyth’s museum, there I found with the help of my lecturer, some beautiful works by Nathaniel Sparks. The aim of the module was to create an essay detailing the history, artist background and effect art movements had on the piece. To do this it entailed me researching more about the artist, using a website set up by close family friends and a book also written by them about Nathaniel Sparks, I was able to find out a lot of what I needed for the essay.

Adam by Nathaniel Sparks is an extremely exquisite piece in my opinion, the level of skill displayed is phenomenal. What interested me the most about the piece was the subject matter, especially considering it was created in 1931. As you can see below it features death visiting Adam in a woodland scene, death is represented as a skeleton holding an hour glass and wearing a cloak, a sword, and a crown.The piece features a densely scored background, outlines around areas such as the leaves have been left with clear open frameworks, and the rest of the expanse of the plate’s background has been carefully cross hatched, over pre- engraved leaves to create the depth and the illusion of shadow in selective parts of the engraving. The middle ground is thin in terms of line, the marks that do exist are delicate and not particularly close together, stippling also makes up large portions of the figural form.


Symbols of interest that are presented within Adam are alpha and omega signs that relate to religious theme of ruin and regeneration; ‘I am the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last’ is scribed in the book of Revelations as being spoken by God. The symbols occur on the livery collar of the skeleton that is a representation of death, also issuing the idea of the events set in motion by Adam and Eves fall and the religious subject that runs through this piece. The crown is also another point of interest, Sparks has inscribed the rim with ‘Quia pulvis Es’, the intricacy and detail behind this minute cursive is a testament to the artist’s technical ability and attention to detail within his work, a representation of how attentive he was to each part of his art. The rest of this proverb is ‘et in pulverem reverteris’, together the translation reads ‘Remember man that you are dust and unto dust you shall return’. Bearing this message on the crown may be a reference to the forehead as a seat of pride, the words upon it a reminder of the mortality and upcoming judgment that Adam experiences after the fall. Celia Barclay writes in her book,‘ Nathaniel’s wartime experience had done nothing to broaden his horizons…It would take time to return to the meticulous work of an engraver’ ; when this piece was created, Sparks had already experienced World War one, his printing career had been cruelly halted and he had been reduced to working in the munition factories, the solemn nature behind Adam could be representative of his sorrow at the years his mundane job during the war, had taken from him and Sparks’s awareness that he was advancing in age with little time left to create a lasting legacy of his artwork.

It is most widely known for its association as a memorial plate to Sparks’s cousin Henry Hardy, as seen by the inscription on a tile on the lower left hand corner of the piece ‘ To H.H, N.S Sculp’ .Henry Hardy’s brother was Thomas Hardy the well-known novelist and poet, although Thomas died in 1928 just nine months before Henry, Sparks only dedicated his engraving to Henry. Sparks was born in Bristol in 1880 and the connection to his family and background that can be seen in the Adam memoriam, runs through the majority of Sparks’s pieces, his main body of works being landscapes, townscapes and architectural studies.

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The mirrored inscription to Henry Hary

When Britain was cut off during the war the result of it was a dislocation in printmaking continuity. Although modernism had already begun to gain momentum in Britain, it was inaccessible for most art collectors, therefore the artwork of existing printmakers were of value. This led to an interest in the art of the ‘Old Masters’ whose study was widely embraced and putative, this is likely because the reassurance of studying what they were aware of created a kind of stability for these artists.The arrival of printing, together with the copious supply and range of affordable paper created the reproducible image by machine which became abundant and arguably a fundamental factor through the Renaissance. Whilst painters of the time translated the canonical sculptures of ancient times onto paper, canvas or other two dimensional expanses with coloured pigments, Dürer, who is considered by many to be one of greatest German Renaissance artists, rendered his delineations through networks of engraved marks that were carefully laid in order to portray the form in a sculptural manner. This is of historical value when considering Sparks’s Adam, as the image of Adam is a reversed and nearly identical depiction of Dürer’s 1504 engraving Adam and Eve. Yet Dürer too used inspiration for his engraving from another piece of art, his representation is reminiscent of the Hellenistic Apollo Belvedere which was exhumed in Italy late in the fifteenth century, although there are no surviving engravings made of the sculpture at that time that he could have used as reference it is likely he would have seen it.As a product of the print revival, the sombre tone and motif of Adam was also a result, with artists looking back upon past styles and creators for stimulus, similar themes were going to merge into their work at some point.

The effects of the print revival, his personal life, geographical environment among other aspects have all played a role in creating Nathaniel Sparks’s work, his artwork will continue to be as prints always have been; a mean of interpersonal communication and dissemination of knowledge that will benefit in some way, those that come after him such as myself. If any viewers would like to know more about the works of Nathaniel Sparks, the text below will take you to the website which also includes the link to the book written by Celia Barclay was extremely useful to me. I have also included other links to websites I have used in my essay.

The Nathaniel Sparks Website


Aberyswyth University- Nathaniel Sparks( Adam)

Celia Barclay’s book on Nathaniel Sparks

This establishment holds many of Nathaniel Sparks works



The image taken is a primary photo from the Aberystwyth University Collections.


Barclay, Celia. Nathaniel Sparks: memoirs of Thomas Hardy’s cousin, the engraver. London: Cock Inn, 1994.pp.74.


With the rose spit-bite completed, the blank areas of the background on its plate were beginning to niggle me. It prompted me to attempt a couple of chine-collé’s with a variety of different papers found in local art shops. Using a paper that included preserved flowers pressed onto the surface or coloured tissue paper that I cut into the shape of some of the petals I created the below range of prints. They look lovely if I do say so myself! Any suggestions for colour combinations of papers or anything else would be gladly received! 

A Little Blue Crab

With a little bit of acrylic aquatint in the old chemistry box and some burnishing to take away areas of the aquatint to create a more three dimensional effect to the crab this little gem was pulled from the press. The blue brought out the intricate lines that I created with the needle and looked more natural than a black ink.

Confusing crabs !

Creating this plate was rather difficult, the concentration that was required to ensure the undulations of the animals shell were similar to the next meant that it took a while to finish. However the finished piece looked effective, just as I was about to print it the lecturer suggested that I apply an acrylic aquatint to give the piece more tonal areas that would work well with the lines. After applying the aquatint to ensure that some areas would not etch more I covered the areas and lines that I wanted to be left lighter with permanent marker,this acts in the same way as the liquid ground and stops the acid bath from further etching the lines.Here is a photograph of the plate with marker on ready to be placed in the bath !img_20170404_145324.jpg