Larry Welo and grew up in Hibbing, Minnesota on the iron range. He studied art and biology while a student at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. Determined to work professionally as an artist, he decided to focus on etching and, after graduating from Luther in 1974 began his art career. Welo’s studio is located in an old Opera House in a small community in southern Wisconsin.
Welo’s etchings are made on copper plates, although other metals may be used as well. Much of etching is a studio process. The steel etching press is heavy and the chemicals require a great deal of care in handling. One of the beauties of the medium, however, is that the copper plates used are fairly portable. Welo is able to take them into the field and work directly from the location. This is what Larry loves about the medium. The chemistry that occurs in translating something from three dimensions onto the flat copper etching plate is like no other. There is a bond that occurs between mind, hand, and place. It is a magical union.
My prints and paintings begin as drawings done from nature. Sketchbooks have been filled over the years. These are a frequent source of visual information and inspiration. Working for a number of years as an artist printmaker has led me to see the world with an emphasis on light and dark. This has carried on throughout my career. Recently, I have moved toward oil painting as my medium of choice. I engage myself with the immediacy of seeing results as I work, whether it is inside the studio or working on location. The arrangement of light and dark together with my interpretation of the subject is key to me.
A thin protective ground coating is applied to the plate. A stylus-like tool with a sharp point is used to draw through the ground, exposing the metal beneath. When the plate is placed in an acid bath, a reaction occurs. The exposed metal is eaten away by the acid and wherever a line was scratched through the ground, a groove is created. After a period of time in the acid, the plate is removed and the ground is cleaned off with a solvent. The plate is now ready for printing and is covered with heavy, black ink. The ink is wiped off of the plate’s surface, leaving ink only in the etched areas beneath the surface of the plate. The inked plate is laid on the bed of the etching press with a dampened sheet of paper laid on top. When the wheel of the press is turned, the plate and paper move between large steel rollers. A great amount of pressure from the steel rollers forces the paper into the contours of the plate, where the ink is transferred to the paper.