My Art

People always ask to see my artworks on the web. I always tell them I can’t put them on the web, or anywhere else. You have to see them firsthand. I use an antiquated alternate photo process, Gum Bichromate. I can make photographic prints with any watercolor pigment, I use metallic pigments that change appearance depending on the lighting and the angle you view them. Taking a photo of the artwork would be like trying to take a photo of a mirror.

But I can show the prints on video, so I can view it from multiple angles, and demonstrate how the prints change as I move. The iPhone takes decent high rez videos, so I made a couple of videos to demonstrate the effect. I figure this gives you about 5% of the experience of viewing the print with your own eyes.

This 8×10″ print uses copper, silver, and gold pigment. The gold lines are nearly transparent if you look straight at the print, but at an angle, they shine brightly, showing a birefringent effect. The different pigments reflect at slightly different angles, the silver is nearly invisible when the gold is bright.

Here is a larger 11×17″ print, it’s one layer of solid gold and very reflective, not translucent like the previous print. I intended to print on top of this gold layer, but I found a blurry spot I didn’t like so I rejected it. Printmakers would call this a “state proof,”  it’s a proof print of one layer I applied to a different print. But it’s pretty interesting by itself.

This type of fine art photographic printing as an artform is becoming commercially unviable. It can’t compete with the low cost of modern inkjet printing, which dominates the photo print market. Gum prints are extremely labor intensive, every print is custom made and unique. The process is very unstable and difficult to use, many prints fail, ruining hours of work. The larger the print, the more difficult and more expensive it is to produce. That’s why the Gum Bichromate process was abandoned and became a lost art.

But the Gum Bichromate process can do things that no other process can achieve. I have spent decades refining the process, finding ways to reduce the cost of producing the negatives. Recently I made some technical breakthroughs and found a way to reduce the cost of the most expensive materials: the negative. It’s a contact printing process, so if you want an 11×17 print, you need 11×17 negatives, usually several of them. I used to pay $35 for those negatives, now I think I can make them for about $2.

So now I’m about to do another edition of prints. Perhaps these will be inexpensive enough to be affordable, so I can put them in an art gallery where people can actually see them firsthand.

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© Copyright 2016 Charles Eicher