I picked up a lovely lady slipper flower, or paphiopedilum, from the Portland Nursery about a month ago. Since then, I’ve been racing against time to make as many detailed drawings as possible before the flower wilts. Over the past year, I’ve purchased 11 orchids, 9 of which have survived, but only once have I been able to coax a plant into re-blooming (and that time, the flowers came from a spike that had already produced flowers). I’ve said before that orchids make the best still life models because the blooms last so long, but they’re expensive models if I can’t wrangle them into giving me future flowers. I’m thrilled that the paph has lasted four weeks, but the subtle droop of the petals and curling of the inner lips indicates that it won’t be with me for much longer. Fortunately, I’ve completed four colored drawings for two future etchings, and have plenty of documentary photos to guide me with color choices for my inks.
Here, I’ve color coded a sheet of transparent vellum paper to prevent confusion when I etch my aquatint in stages. The brown marker (and the places that aren’t colored at all) won’t have any aquatint; they’ll just be the color of plate tone. The areas in red will be a very light tone, probably etched a minute or less. (The red and brown were a poor choice for mapping, as they are difficult to distinguish when next to each other.) Green areas are etched to a medium tone, and the blue will be the darkest. The colors I chose for the drawing are just a map to help me plan; the plate will actually be printed in violet.
This is a two color etching, so this second sheet of vellum maps out what will be the green plate. I have to plan where and how much I want the green and violet inks to mix, and where one color should be more vibrant.
Here I have the first sheet of vellum laid over the second. The colors don’t represent those intended for the etching, but you get an idea of how I hope to create a sense of depth by mixing colors in the background, and having more saturated, bright colors in the foreground. The planning is completed–onward to plate work.