The etchings all started as urban sketches at each location referenced by the corresponding poem. I had a fun time inviting my urban sketchers meetup group to draw the places with me that I had chosen to illustrate.
Once I started etching, I realized that I didn’t need to, nor want to create the draft sketches in great detail. I prefer to work out the details straight on the copper plate, rather than copy everything over from an “original”. Copying would remove the possibility of letting things happen as I respond to the medium. However, I did want the images to be recognizable as Vancouver scenery. So I used my ability to draw realistically, but threw in some visual reminders that these are drawings, and are not trying to imitate photography.
I used my location sketches as the main reference to create the perspective and narrow compositions; I prefer the wonky perspective that results from the communication between my eyes, brain and drawing hand, to the seemingly “perfect” perspective resulting from a photo, which often looks too flat, and is not even close to what my eye sees. While I used photos as reference material as well, they mainly helped me fill in details and shading. Here are some of these quick sketches:
Below are all nine etchings I made for Getting to Know You by the poet Christopher Levenson. These images are from state proofs, a couple of the copper plates will have slight touchups that were not yet done here. Click on each image to see an even larger resolution version. The project is explained in detail in this earlier post. And you can still pre-order a book here.
2013 has been one of the best years of my life. This copper etching project did it; that, and the Vancouver urban sketchers! I can only hope that 2014 will be as wonderful.