We met David at the Saint-Rémy-de-Provence market. A quick glance at David’s display and we were immediately struck by his works. A tree, a landscape, a bird, all of his subjects draw you closer to the art, closer to the details, and captivate your imagination until you feel compelled to ask him: how?
And it is with passion that David explains how he creates his engravings, following a very old tradition that actually makes him one of the very few engravers to still practice that unique art.
Engraving has a long history and has seen various techniques develop in different parts of the world, from Europe to Asia. While the Japanese use wood to create the master, David is a master of the technique known in French as “pointe sèche”.
The “pointe sèche” technique uses a metal plate, typically copper, that is engraved using a sharp and very fine needle. It is used to etch the drawing in the metal.
Not only is the shape of the etching critical, but the amount of pressure and the angle of the needle will determine how much ink will be deposited in the grooves.
The scale and detail of David’s work require preparation. Because the print will be the mirror image of the engraving, when using a photograph for inspiration, David uses a mirror to look at the photograph, to end up with an inverted etching. Of course, a simple tree may not be concerned with being immortalized inverted, but the Mt Ventoux does. And of course, the detail of David’s work required a good magnifying glass.
David explains that he typically maintains a 45 degrees angle to etch perfectly shaped-grooves, creating along the way, thin copper threads like the wood shavings a cabinetmaker makes with his planer.
Also, as the grooves’ orientation is constantly changing, the plate is constantly moved and rotated, and the use of a rounded support becomes critical: turning and tilting the plate keeps the ideal angle for the light to illuminate the groove and ensure it has the desired shape and depth.
The engraving completed, the ink is then applied using a roller. Several iterations of rolling, rubbing and cleaning are necessary to achieve the perfect loading of the plate.
Once the plate is ready for printing, it is placed face down on a high-quality paper, and the two are placed on a layer of felt before going through the press.
David restored an old press that has the “they just don’t make them like this anymore” feel to it. It is very heavy, beautiful, and incredibly smooth. As David starts turning the wheel, the plate, paper and felt pass under the cylinder with the inertia of the mechanics keeping the rotation going, effortlessly.
A very fine work of art, indeed.
From April till October, you will find David at the following markets:
Mondays and Tuesdays: Bédoin
In David’s own words:
Je suis originaire d'un petit village du bord de mer en Bretagne. Depuis lors, ma connexion à la nature et aux éléments ne m'a jamais quittée. J'ai étudié pendant 5 ans à l'école des Beaux Arts à Lorient et ai suivi une formation d'interprétation nature dans le parc naturel du Vercors, avant de partir longtemps sur la route. J'ai passé plusieurs années en Asie, en particulier dans l'Himalaya, où j'ai rencontré mon épouse avec laquelle je travaille. Ces voyages ont permis de nourrir ma réflexion artistique et de créer des sculptures, dessins, installations dans la nature, estampes.... Actuellement, le Mont Ventoux et la Provence sont une source d'inspiration.... Aujourd'hui, je vis avec ma femme et nos deux enfants en Provence où se situe mon atelier, et le reste de l'année, nous partons ensemble en voyage.
I am originally from a small village, along the southern coast of Brittany. A connection to nature and the elements has always been with me. I spent 5 years studying at the Ecole de Beaux Art in Lorient and followed a nature interpretation training course in the Parc Naturel du Vercors. I started traveling after that. I spent several years in Asia and in the Himalayas, where I met my wife that I now work with. These travels have inspired by art helping me create sculptures, drawings, standing art in natural settings and prints. Presently, The Mont Ventoux and Provence are sources of inspiration. Today, I live with my wife and our two children where I keep my studio, and we travel together when not working.