Susan Middleton specializes in portraits of animals and plants, and her photogravures include a colorful portrait of a live octopus, two delicately colored flower images, and a touching picture of a specimen of the extinct passenger pigeon, almost iridescent against a velvety black background.
Middleton, with collaborator David Liittschwager, was in 1998 the subject of an Emmy award-winning National Geographic television special, America’s Endangered Species: Don’t Say Goodbye. She travels around the world, often with scientific expeditions, photographing live animals and plants. A new book of her photographs (her fifth major publication) will be published by Abrams later this year.
"I consider myself a portrait photographer. My subjects are plants and animals, and I hope to evoke an emotional response."
Although most of the art produced at Crown Point Press is drawn directly on copper plates by the artist, printing a photograph as an etching has been for thirty years an option for artists working there. Until now, color was added to photographs with hand-drawn plates printed behind the photo image. Middleton’s color photogravures are the first with natural full color photographic images, each one printed from four photo-image plates (red, yellow, blue, and black). The photogravure process is as old as photography itself. It is hand-printed from copper plates and uses gelatin as the base for its light-sensitive ground. There is no halftone screen. Tones are minutely differentiated by sifting tree rosin onto the plate to create an aquatint, then etching the copper plates in acid to varying depths. Darker tones physically hold more ink than lighter ones. Images are as detailed as any photograph, and the surfaces are richer. The printing, however, is extremely time-consuming.
Crown Point Press
20 Hawthorne Street
The Crown Point Press gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 pm.