One of the things I like about printmaking is that, perhaps because it is new to me, I feel able to experiment more and try slightly wacky things.Wacky to me, that is–there are much more adventurous artists around, but I seem to dip my toe very carefully into unfamiliar waters. I took a break from prints yesterday in order to finish a couple of oil paintings, one of which I began last summer on the Eastern Shore (MD). I painted over it with brighter colors and I’m pleased with the result–though I’m not really sure about the orange–is it too much? Too bright? Orange is actually one of my least favorite colors, and yet I find I use it more and more, liking the brightness and boldness that I think most other colors don’t achieve–except perhaps for shocking pink. What do you think? Comments welcome.
Doesn’t press-free sound more positive than press-less, as if I’m happy not to be encumbered with such a useless item? It does give me an opportunity to experiment. After abandoning the walking press I mentioned in the last post, I turned to Gelli prints and then, laden with leaves and flowers from my garden and a new stainless steel rolling pin, to rolling out prints with a lot of pressure. I also went back into some prints, inking the leaves and flowers and applying right onto the paper.
During a week at the Ringling College of Art and Design’s summer program at Wildacres retreat in the Blue Ridge mountains of North Carolina learning the rudiments of printmaking, I fell in love with the process. While there, I had the use of beautiful Takach presses. But now I’m back in my studio, sadly a studio without a printing press. Until I come up with a few thousand dollars (no doubt from selling hundreds of my press-less prints), I’m experimenting with various non-press methods.
My first thought was to try relief printing, or linotype. I’d like to be able to make a good number of prints that I can then finish in different ways–watercolor, new print layers, all sorts of possibilities. I armed myself with linoleum blocks and Speedball inks, cutters, etc. I did not realize how difficult it is to cut linoleum so this block will likely take me a few months to finish! My arm and shoulder start to ache pretty quickly. A couple of tips help–just mask that big open area (sky) at the top. And heat the linoleum. I applied a hair-dryer and sure enough, it is much easier.
I have a lot more cutting to do, but I ran a proof just to see how it looks so far:
Giving my arm a rest, I turned to the “walking press” idea I’d read about. I inked a plate with Golden Open Acrylic paint, which doesn’t dry fast, and placed some geranium flowers and leaves as well as a few wildflowers on the plate. On top I put printmaking paper which had been soaked and blotted, then put the sandwich into a folded sheet of newsprint and onto a board cushioned with newspaper. More newspaper on top and then–lots of fun–I walked back and forth on top as heavily as I could. The result, along with some other attempts:
Last week a friend, artist Carol McGraw, visited my studio, where we tried out Gelli printing, a method of monoprinting. Lots of fun, very messy, allows for multiple layers. I’ll save these for the next post.
The first big question was why have an art blog at all. Isn’t it a bit pretentious to think anyone might be interested in what I have to say about art? Will people laugh and criticize my writing errors or the shallowness of my reflections? I already have a website to show my finished work–isn’t that enough?
I decided to go ahead because I wanted somewhere to organize my thoughts and talk about my experiments and struggles, rather than just show the results, the product of said struggles. After posting some of my art on Facebook, I felt frustrated by the randomness of who sees the posts, people who are interested and those who are not (but who no doubt feel compelled to click “like” even if they don’t like what they see!), and how scattered the posts are. Here I can write and keep all my posts together and in chronological order.
The second big question was what to call the blog. Artful blogger came immediately to mind…taken already, of course. Okay, how about MagnaArta? Nah, too pretentious, and would everyone “get it?” MangoArta?–getting silly. Art Reflections, ArtStrings, all taken. I wanted to get across that I’m just writing about my thoughts while creating art rather than anything deep and universal, something introspective…Artrospective? Taken! Finally I thought of adding the s….Bingo.
So here we are, and now the big question is, “What do I write?” (and can I keep this up?). Stay tuned.