Updated: Oct 20, 2021
My association with solar power goes back a long time but I love the fact that printing can now be done using it.
My father was an early adopter of solar power in the 1970s, bravely installing solar panels on our house - in Ireland! It took much less courage for me to do the same 40 years later in Australia!
I was fascinated to find that solar power had made its way into the printmaking arena too through the development of pre-sensitised, self-etching polymer etching plates. The process is pretty straightforward: you simply place a transparency of an image on top of a solar etching plate, expose it to sunlight and then run water over the plate to reveal a plate ready for printing. Another rather nice feature of the process is that it doesn't require acids and solvents that can kill you if you consume too much of them!
Room with a View
The reference I used for this print was a photograph I took at the Wintergarden in the Auckland Domain. The vaulted Victorian-style glass houses display a huge array of rare and spectacular plants. The lush tropical plants were pushing up against the windows and seemed to me to be competing for a view. My tutor, Susan Baran, greatly assisted by refreshing my memory on the whole process.
Been there, sketch that
My earliest attempts at solar plate printing weren't quite so successful - I think due mainly to a deficiency in the plate that resulted in patches. Ah well, you win some, you lose some and you learn along the way.