Experiments to nowhere in particular
“Attachment to outcome is the biggest obstacle to creativity. As soon as you become attached to a specific outcome, you feel compelled to control and manipulate what you’re doing. And in the process you shut yourself off to other possibilities.”
As a counterpoint to the relatively slow process of etching, there’s another technique that encourages rapid and interactive printmaking. Mono typing. Put simply, any flat surface you can apply ink to that will fit under the press can be used to create a monoprint. Here's a quick video explaining the basic process.
As the name implies, you’ll get only one print this way. The materials wear out quickly and you’ll have remove the materials from the press to ink them again so you’ll likely not recreate the exact same composition the next time.
You can use packaging materials, textiles, leaves, or even bubble wrap for example. Monotyping is a great way to explore and experiment with different ways of creating image. It’s for playing around. Not attached to a specific outcome, but for discovering something new and unexpected.
After creating a series of monotype experiments, you can review them as a whole. What’s interesting and new? Which direction to explore further? Based on this selection you can continue with more monotypes or try to capture the essence of it in an etching. I’ve evolved my etching techniques and surprised myself this way a few times already. Which feels great.
Do you have a sand box to play around in? Where you are free to explore and discover and surprise yourself? Experiments don’t really fail, they merely give unexpected results, but that’s exactly what you’re aiming for. Keep that perspective and you’ve given yourself permission to discover something new.