Works on Paper      Professional Framing Services


Fine Impressions Gallery is a fine art print gallery offering a wide selection of original antique and contemporary handmade prints and other works on paper, including watercolors and drawings. We have something for every interest, including architecture, botanicals, maps, birds, historical subjects, literary subjects, satire, costumes, and much more. Our professional framing services will protect and display your artwork, providing a lifetime of enjoyment.

Serving the
art community
since 1981

Gallery Hours:
Tues-Sat 11-5
or by appointment

8300 5th Avenue NE
Seattle, WA 98115

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"Foxtail Pines"
Stephen McMillan
3 Plate Color Aquatint

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In April we took a look at etchings and engravings. This month we are exploring the other half of the intaglio family - aquatints and mezzotints. As in all intaglio prints, marks are made into metal plates using special carving tools. Ink is pressed into the depressions and then the plate is wiped clean before printing. Aquatints and mezzotints however are noted for their painterly style, with no distinct lines. The processes are fascinating and worth an in depth look.

Mezzotint: In mezzotint, the artist uses a tool called a rocker to create minute burrs covering the entire plate. At that point, the burrs would hold the ink and the plate would print completely black. To create various lighter tones, the artist uses a tool called a scraper to remove the burr or a burnisher to flatten the burr. Ink wipes clean from these smoothed areas, creating a range of shades from white to black in the printing process. The French often refer to this technique as maniere noire.

This range of tone is what gives mezzotint its name. Mezzo means “middle” and the process creates a wide range of mid-tones. It produces images that are deep and velvety. A color print requires a separate plate for each color (red, yellow, blue and sometimes brown). Each plate is inked and with careful registration the layering of colors in the printing process can create many shades.

"Oranges and Apples" 30/100
Tomoi Yokoi

"Carotte Sauvage" 45/60
Mikio Watanabe

"Man Leading Horse"
After James Seymour
Mezzotint, 1787
$400.00 Matted

"Le double escalier" EA/iii/v
Laurent Schkolnyk
Mezzotint, 1981

"Polar Bears in Rowboats" 1/10
Carol Lynn Kirchner

"Marzenia (Dream)" 20/60
Chris Nowicki
$225.00 Matted

Aquatint: Aquatints, like etchings, are made using an acid chemical reaction on a metal plate. The artist begins by dusting the plate with rosin to create texture, then uses heat to bond the rosin to the plate. To create the image, the artist first identifies the white areas of the finished print. Then, using an exceptionally fine watercolor brush, the artist carefully paints those areas with asphaltum, to protect them from the acid bath. The exposed areas of the plate will gradually be etched to create a surface to hold ink. The more exposure to acid, the deeper the etch, which creates the darker areas in the final print.

After a short acid bath, the plate is washed and is ready for the next paint-out. The artist identifies the areas that will keep the first light etch, producing a light gray tone, and paints out those areas. This process is repeated many times until all the values from white to black are achieved. Then the protective asphaltum is removed and the plate is printed.

Aquatint produces an image that is soft and richly colored, often similar to a watercolor image – hence the name aqua(water)tint. For a color aquatint, the artist creates a separate plate for each color. They are printed in layers and the colors mix on the moistened paper, creating a wide variety of hues. Engraving: No acid is used in engraving. The artist creates the images by drawing directly onto the plate with a burin or gravure to create an incised line. The lines vary in width and depth and are pointed at the start and finish. The artist can use cross-hatching and parallel lines for shading and can produce extremely fine details and sparkling white spaces. Engraving was frequently used in book illustration and images were often carefully hand-colored with watercolor.

"Le Passage" 33/99
Andre Bongibault
Color Aquatint

David Harrison
Color Aquatint

"Grand Canyon" A/P
Barbara Painter
Aquatint, 1994

"Arrival of Procession of St. Anne from Fouesnant to Concarneau"
Alfred Guillou

"Bellingham Bay" 2/250
Stephen McMillan
Aquatint, 2014

"White Ibis" 172/250
John Costin

Remember, we have many items in the gallery that are not on our website.

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We are continually adding new listings, images, and information to our website. Please contact us if you are interested in an item that is listed without an image, or if you have any other questions about our inventory or services.
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