Belinda Del Pesco

Drypoint and Collagraph Printmaking – Whale and Mermaid

Whale & Mermaid 9×6 Collagraph & Drypoint on BFK Rives paper (available here)

Experiments in the Art Studio

Experiments in the studio are important, because that’s what we should be doing with art supplies, right?  Keeping things fresh and full of wonder by pushing past our comfort zone in artmaking, and testing new approaches. G-R-O-W-I-N-G, which requires a certain amount of comfort with the idea of failing too. Do you agree? Beyond discussions and theories of leaping past playing it safe, do you push your artistic skills all the way to failure, in order to expand your creative breadth?

Art Studio Bartender

I’ve mixed intaglio and relief printing on the same print, like a bartender conjuring mysterious elixirs.  I wanted a flat color background, and vintage, early 1900’s style illustration details, without having to hand paint the print with watercolor after the ink dried. So this is a mat board collagraph, and a drypoint engraving – one printed over the other. A printmaking torte, so to speak. ?

mat board collagraph printmaking
Carving the upper-most layer from the backside of a sheet of mat board works surprisingly well for an intaglio-style, or relief style print

Follow Along via Video

The collagraph and drypoint engraving combination above was my first investigation of this layering test, so if you’re a seasoned mixer of printmaking methods, please leave any tips and tricks you can share with links in the comments. (Thank you in advance for your help.)  I documented this process on a video (linked below) in case anyone else wants to give it a whirl. The petite edition of eight prints is available in my Etsy Shop.

Mixing inks to create colors of ocean water, whales and mermaids 🙂
After applying ink to the collagraph plate in the a la poupee method, the whale and mermaid are settled into a mat board and masking tape registration jig on the press bed

One of 8 color prints pulled from the collagraph plate to create color background for the upcoming drypoint overlay.

A mermaid emerging from plexiglass by cross hatching her swimming gestures into the surface of the acrylic plate with a scribe.
drypoint on plexiglass in process
Working on cross hatching details while on vacation with my family. My little grandson asked more than once: “Are you *still* working on that whale? Whoah. Art is hard.” ??‍♀️
printmaking an intaglio plate over a relief print for details
The inked and wiped intaglio drypoint plate, headed towards it’s collagraph mate on the press bed
a humpback whale breaching off the california coast
A day in the Santa Barbara Channel off the coast of California where inspiration for this art breached water and said hello
Pulling a print of a whale swimming with a mermaid on an etching press
After a trip through the press, the details from the drypoint on plexiglass show on top of the collagraph background print.

A Video from the Art Studio

Here is the process video of this intaglio over relief printmaking experiment from the studio:

printmaking on a press bed - the intaglio drypoint plate next to the resulting print of a whale and a mermaid
The drypoint plexiglass plate on the press bed to the left, next to a freshly pulled whale and mermaid print

Make Something

What are your plans for tying up the loose strands in your artwork this season? Are you cleaning out the desk where you make stuff? Fluffing the corners of your sense of wonder with short walks in nature? Jotting down hurried notes about new art projects to brew and sip from in the new year? Whatever is on your schedule for the coming weeks, I hope there are foundations of excitement, and a scaffolding of possibility and fresh starts on your next page.

I’m high fiving you on our collective plans, and appreciation for artistic truth, beauty and light.

Thanks for stopping in, and I’ll see you in the next post!


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Art Quote

You must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don’t know what was in the newspapers that morning, you don’t know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe anybody, you don’t know what anybody owes to you. This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be. This is the place of creative incubation. At first you may find that nothing happens there. But if you have a sacred place and use it, something eventually will happen.
~Joseph Campbell

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12 thoughts on “Drypoint and Collagraph Printmaking – Whale and Mermaid”

  1. Pingback: Printing a Drypoint without a Press (tutorial video) - belindadelpesco

  2. Pingback: Drypoint Engraving on Plexiglass - Printmaking using a la poupée - belindadelpesco

  3. Backwards???! Just kidding, I learned that lesson many etchings ago! Scribing type and numbers in reverse are a real pain, but the see-through plate keeps me on track.
    When doing dry point, I’m always reminded that Rembrandt wrote backwards right on the copper with no see-through helper.

    1. I’ve printed backwards more then once, so you clearly learned the flip sooner than I did. But you have an engineer’s mind as an advantage! And as for Rembrandt, I have always wondered if he – or one of his many helpers – actually scribed those letters. 🙂

  4. I have been scratching away at a 3″ x 1.5″ plexiglass plate of our lovely Town of Oxford (MD) town clock. I was going to give the prints the watercolor treatment, but now you’ve inspired me to experiment. It could be tricky at so small a scale, but I like the plate mark that collagraphs produce. I’ll let you know what happens.

  5. Great looking print, Belinda!
    On your dry point plate, how did you get the blotchy textures that look like bubbles, kelp, or shoals of fish?

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge through your website and videos!


    1. Hi John,
      Thanks for the kind words. The under-sea textures on the plate were made by mixing #120 grit carborundum with acrylic gloss medium & varnish 40/60 and painting the mixture onto the plexiglass plate. Are you going to give this method of printmaking a try?

  6. This is amazing Belinda! Now I want to come back from holidays ASAP to start the experiment! 😀 Thank you for sharing. I love your art, posts, videos, quotes… All your work rocks!! 😀 Happy end of the year <3 <3

    1. Thanks, Marissa! I hope you get a chance to try it. The effect of details over blocks of color reminds me of the old magazine cover art from the 1900’s, and I love the nostalgic feel and incredible skills of the work they created at that time in art history. Have so much fun, and Happy end of the year to you too!

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