Ian Brooks | West Yorkshire
I was always interested in both art and science, alternating through school as to which I wanted to pursue. In the end, I took the easy option and studied physics, staying on in Manchester for a PhD in atmospheric physics, and then moving to San Diego for post-doctoral research in marine meteorology. Throughout this time, I maintained a part-time side-line in art, doing occasional bits of illustration, and selling a few paintings and drawings along the way. In 2002, I moved to Leeds University, and academic life got busier and busier, leaving little time for art. I’m still at Leeds, now as a professor in the Institute for Climate and Atmospheric Science, doing research at the interface of atmospheric and oceanographic science, and on Arctic climate.
A few years ago, I decided I needed to make time for art again. I started attending regular life drawing sessions, and began experimenting with printing making. Encouraged to try etching by a friend, I have become a little bit obsessed, finding a new inspiration in the restrictions imposed by the technique.
All the works here are primarily aquatint etchings – the shades of grey generated by the bite of acid around a fine dusting of resin fused to the surface of the copper plate – with occasional use of soft-ground etching. The images are built up in many layers, with areas either stopped out with varnish, or exposed via a sugar-lift. The acid is usually washed on with a brush in the manner of watercolour to allow subtle gradations of tone.
Most of my current work is landscape, drawing inspiration from both the remote locations I visit as part of my research work, and from the moorlands close to my home in Haworth. In the latter case, the works start as sketches in graphite and ink, made while out walking on the moors. I rarely work up more detailed drawings, but start work directly on the copper plate using the sketchbook drawings as the foundation of the image, supplemented by details from photographs. At some point, I stop looking at the reference material and let the etching itself dictate what is needed to ‘finish’ it.
All the etchings are hand printed on acid free handmade papers.