Last week, after much dotting and dashing, came a magic moment. After the strain of turning the press wheels, the pleasure of lifting the heavy felt printing blankets, and the peeling back of the thick, damp cotton paper from the copper plate, there appeared a finished print. Etching, unlike painting or drawing, contains a singular moment of wonder in its process: after weeks of building line on line, and gazing past the glare of the copperplate to search for signs of progress, one moment at a press delivers a finished piece, only hinted at before. (Of course, this does not often happen the first time a plate goes through the press; usually, there are tests and revisions to be made.)
In this etching, which is the second in what will be a series of five etchings on a theme of "double" (the first in the series is here), a twosome passes heedlessly over a sleeping landscape wearing clothes stitched with roses.
The title, Pas de deux (literally steps of two), of course refers to dance and works well with the movement implied, but I had originally passed this over and thought to call this "Le couple". I thought it was important to have a title which clearly suggested making one thing from two; a word for 1+1=1. But it was a boring title. And as I thought about it the obvious hit me, and I realized that "pas de deux" could also translate to "not of two".
Perhaps I shouldn't mention it, but the germ for this idea came from a conversation with my husband in a pub a long time ago. He or I said something about not really enjoying "being in a bar alone", forgetting that by being together, we were quite evidently not alone. But of course, there we were, ostensibly no different from a couple getting to know each other a little ways away. Perhaps because of the long time we've known each other, perhaps because of moving to places where we've known no one, or because we just talk too much, sometimes, sometimes, I feel like a four-armed, four-footed thing.
This print took a lot longer than I'd expected, but happily it is because I started working on the other prints before completing it. So hopefully there will not be such a big gap between the second, third, fourth, and fifth prints as there was between the first and second!