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Marian L. O'Connell      Artist, Printmaker



"Summer Cottage" intaglio by Marian O'ConnellIntaglio printing includes any process where ink is transferred from depressions and lines in a plate to the printing surface. Aquatint is one of those techniques which comes from the Latin aquafortes meaning “strong water” (acid) and tinto meaning tone. The plate is coated with a porous ground of resin and heated to adhere the particles When bathed in acid, spaces between the granules of resin will be “etched,” producing a surface that when inked and printed, will produce areas of light or dark tone depending on the length of time in the acid. (Summer Cottage is an example of an aquatint.)

In recent years, I have been experimenting with safer methods that do not use toxins but still maintain traditional fifteenth century European metal craftsmen methods. In 2005 because of reconstructive hand surgery, I have switched to using a light sensitive polymer Solarplate almost exclusively. It requires less hand strength than the traditional copper and zinc plates I used to use. I create a piece of artwork on a transparent film, laying it on a Solarplate and exposing it to ultraviolet light. The plate is developed in water leaving the plate with lines and depressions. I then completely cover the plate with a sticky ink, forcing it into the depressions and lines. I remove the excess ink by wiping it with tarleton and newsprint. Next the plate is covered with paper and then etching blankets and sent through my manually operated etching press. When dry the print is usually watercolored.


A monotype is a single image pulled from a glass, metal, or cardboard plate in which the artist paints with or manipulates printers ink on the smooth, unworked surface of the printing plate. The etching inks produce deep rich areas of color and then transferred to paper by the press. A monotype may pass through the press several times but since the plate has not been incised the image cannot be repeated exactly and only one (mono) print can be made. (Sunrise at the Lake, below is an example of a monotype.)

Acrylic Skin

An acrylic skin is a recent technique I have started to use.  I start by painting four coats of acrylic gloss medium on a plastic place mat in different directions each time and then two coats of ink aid medium in different directions.  My image develops from a drawing, photograph etc. that has been manipulated in photo shop on my computer and the entire place mat is run through the ink jet printer.  The skin is then pulled from the placemat and mounted on paper, a mirror, or as in the case of “Old Mill Window”, onto sheet metal. This print is the one that the curator of the Rhode Island School of Design awarded me a honorable mention.