KITTY WATT is a printmaker of considerable reputation. She first learned to etch at Peacock Printmakers in 1986 and instantly took to the intricacies of the process. Some years on, she continues to develop and experiment. By building an Aquatint box out of an old table and a hairdryer, she was able to acheive different tones, which led to her particular use of colour in her etchings, the ink applied with anything from rollers to cotton buds. Kitty’s recent work shows a more confident use of colour and a new strength. She lived for many years in Strathdon, Aberdeenshire. Now living in Caithness, she has found inspiration in the magnificent coastal scenery of Caithness and Orkney, the wild seas and skies, towering cliffs and stacks. Stone circles and standing stones are a theme continuing from Aberdeenshire where they formed a frequent subject in her work. Now they are represented by the world famous Ring of Brodgar and the Stones of Stenness in Orkney.
Kitty works from an outbuilding at her croft in Caithness. The etching process is detailed and painstaking, as she explains,
“Etching is an exciting and varied art form and Aquatint is only one technique of many that can be used. There is as much skill in the inking of the plate as there is in the application of the image onto the metal. This is what makes each print so individual.
The etching plate is usually made of zinc,copper or steel. It is cleaned and coated in acid-resistant “hard ground”. The design is scratched onto the plate and immersed in acid, which bites into the metal forming a groove. This gives a linear design.
Powdered rosin is sprinkled onto the plate and sealed with heat. This coats the metal in a fine dust. Varnish is painted onto the areas of the plate to be kept light and it is immersed in acid for a very short time. More areas of the plate are painted as it is immersed for longer and longer times. This gives tones to the etching.
The cleaned plate is then coated with ink, polished with muslin and tissue paper before it is placed face up on the etching press. It is then covered with damp paper and blankets before it is moved through the press to produce one print. It then has to be re-inked for each individual aquatint etching.”