Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Travel +

The Bristol Art Museum, in the Rhode Island bay area, hosted an exhibition of the Printmakers' Network of Southern New England. It showcased our latest group project which was a book of poetry and prints titled Travel. Additional work, by the artists who participated in the book, was also included.

It's always great to have an opportunity to exhibit your work in a different venue and Sunday's opening was well attended, highlighted the versatility and diversity of the group and ended with a few pending sales.

Belonging to a group of diverse artist/printmakers is a wonderful way to collaborate on special projects, build collegiality and share your work with the public. The Printmakers' Network already has 3 upcoming projects in the works; a summer exhibition of large prints at the Children's Medical Center in D.C., an exhibition at the Newport Art Museum scheduled for fall of 2011 and a 20th anniversary portfolio titled "Score" for 2012. I'd better get busy in the studio!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Network Gathering

The Printmakers Network of Southern New England held their fall meeting at the Providence Art Club in downtown Providence, R.I. (Just down the hill from RISD.) What a wonderful environment!

The Providence Art Club was founded in 1880 and created to promote the appreciation of art in the community. It's home to studios, galleries, and a clubhouse housed in a procession of historic buildings. You can check them out at their site. http://www.providenceartclub.org/

There have been renovations made in one building to house classroom and exhibition spaces while parts of the older buildings step you back in time.

You could almost imagine dropping by for afternoon tea as you set foot into some of the rooms. The buildings are connected by atrium like hallways.

It was a beautiful day to visit Providence and a treat to check out the various corners of this wonderful old establishment. It's always great to get together with fellow printmakers to share ideas and plan for group projects and exhibitions. Being a printmaker is almost like belonging to a secret society; if you meet another printmaker, talk immediately turns to techniques and materials. There seems to be an almost instantaneous collegiality among printmakers that I'm not sure is there among other artists, or at least it's not the same. Every printmaker that I've met, either in person or online, has been enthusiastic about what they do, and generally very generous with their knowledge and insights. I think we're all pretty much caught up in the process, at least to some extent, of our given printmaking media, and recognize that spark of craftsmanship in other printmakers, too. Needless to say, it was an enjoyable meeting.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

And the Walls Came Tumbling Down

Interesting week as we watched the cottage being demolished. It's amazing how quickly a place can be reduced to a pile of rubble. It was sad to see it go (so many great memories) but exciting to think about what's to come. Right now, there's not a lot we can do so I have time to spend in the studio. I'm thinking of doing a few prints dealing with this demolition.

Only the "crows nest" is left at the moment. Hopefully, the rebuilding will start soon and we'll see some progress by Thanksgiving - fingers crossed.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Back in the studio.

There's nothing like spending a productive day in the studio. I finally had time to make progress on an image that I had set aside during the summer. It's based on a photo of the room I stayed in while in Hawaii. I loved being on the 27 floor and the sense of being up in the clouds and away from everything.

I manipulated the image in PhotoShop and printed it out on acetate. After making a small trial plate, to test the exposure time, I went ahead and adhered the film to plexiglass. As I was proofing, I had one of those "ah ha" moments when I spotted a scrap of that non-skid backing used under throw rugs lying on the counter. I placed the plate on the rubber surface and easily wiped the plate without it skidding around. I don't know why I hadn't thought of this before but I will definitely used this on a regular basis.

My original intent was to work in black and white but decided to see what it would look like with a little color in the window area. Using the Chine-colle' technique, I first tried a Japanese paper but the color was too strong. I ended up using Rives cream colored printing paper and was happy with the subtle hue. Check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chine-colle' for a quick description of chine-colle'.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Things on Hold

Aah September. The days are cooler, the sun sets earlier and you know fall is just around the corner. September is also the time to pick up the pace, after a laid back summer of heat and humidity, and take on new challenges.

I've been away from the studio for the past few weeks enjoying summer's end down by the shore. Studio projects were placed on hold but I'm hoping to get back in the studio next week, to see if I can bring something to fruition.

Right now, I'm feeling a little nervous about not having the time to focus on my studio practice. You see, my husband and I are about to undertake a huge project; tearing down and rebuilding the family cottage that my father-in-law built over 62 years ago. Our summer has been focused on designing the new space and getting the necessary permits to move ahead. This week will focus on meeting with various tradesmen to get estimates and beginning the cleaning out phase of the cottage. (So much stuff has accumulated over the years!)

This project is both exciting and terrifying, since I know it will occupy a good portion of our time. In the long run though, the new place will be built to withstand coastal storms and hurricanes and with any luck will last another 60 years or more. Right now I'm just looking at it as one giant creative endeavor and with any luck, I'll be able to divide my time between the studio and this building project. I'll try to occasionally update our progress as the project unfolds.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Still Proofing

Right in the middle of working on my latest print, I ran out of the ImagOn Pro film that I favored because of its thickness and ability to hold ink. I checked but found that I couldn't find any of the old Imagon Pro for sale. I'm thinking Dupont may have discontinued the film and switched to the newer ImagOn Ultra Rapid.

After receiving a roll of the new film, I found that it's thinner than the ImagOn Pro and exposure times are shorter. This necessitated new step tests to get a feel for the new film.

I find this testing tedious but necessary to get the exposure times correct before I feel comfortable enough to move ahead with the final image.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Great Site for Exhibition Opportunities

Just recently I came across a fantastic web site called Art & Art Deadlines.com which helps connect artists with exhibition opportunities. http://www.artandartdeadlines.com/aboutaaad/

R.L. Gibson is a working artist and former arts administrator who for years had sent out deadlines for art shows. She has turned her "show list" to blog form where she tags, categorizes and archives the ART and ART DEADLINES by date, media, region and brings it to you free.

When I retired, one of my goals was to actively seek out exhibition opportunities to help provide a framework for my studio practice. I found that it helps to have a specific challenge to provide a focus. By selecting projects and shows that interest me, I'm spurred to action by the deadlines. Another advantage is that I'm branching out and seeking venues outside of my local area.

Art & Art Deadlines is a wonderful way to find shows and get details about upcoming creative opportunities. Check it out.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

First Proof Close-up

Here's the first proof from my initial plate when I was considering the image as a dyptic. The image is a little too dark so I will adjust the exposure time for the negative. (The dot screen exposure seems fine.) When using ImagOn, it is recommended that you do a step test for each image to determine the optimum exposure time. Of course, being an impatient artist, I usually just like to wing it (no pun intended) and see what happens. After I have a sense of how the plate prints, I usually step back and end up doing a step test anyway. The goal it to get as much detail as possible and nice rich darks. I like this image as it stands so I may pull a few prints of just the boxed bird; maybe add some chine colle. We'll see.

I usually print on damp paper but this time I'm experimenting with dry Hahnemuhle Copperplate and Akua inks.

Image Deveopment, Platemaking & Proofing

Have you ever had an idea rolling around in your head but couldn't find the time to do anything with it? Well, this was the week to try and make some headway. I've had this image in the works for the past month. I had worked up numerous sketches but was unable to move forward with the print because of other obligations. This past week, I finally had the time to get this piece out of my head and onto a plate.

I'm using ImagOn photopolymer film to create the plate. I started with sketches and personal photos. Drawings were scanned, photos altered, and everything was mixed together and played around with in photo-shop. I printed out a few versions on acetate and then scratched into and drew on them until I had something worth proofing. I like to use Stabilo pencils and Speedball Screen Filler to add darks and a variety of scratch board & dental tools to pull out lights. After a couple of preliminary proofs, I altered the image and ended up with this latest negative.

The plates were exposed in my NuArc exposure unit; first to a dot screen and then to the negative. I had a number of scrap pieces of Plexi so I decided to use it as my base for the Imagon. This allowed me to play around with the film and images and if I wasn't happy with the outcome, just grab another piece of plexi. If I was using copper, I would need to strip the film from the plate to reuse the copper and that would take time. The film adheres well to the plexi and the thickness of the plate affords me with a nice plate line.

These are some of the first plates I proofed. I wasn't happy with them so I'll just make up a tray of strong soda ash solution and let them soak over night to strip the film from the plexi.

Originally, I though that I wanted to print the image as a dyptic. These first proofs were separate plates. I taped the proofs together to see how the images related.

These are the latest proofs. Right now, I prefer the image as one plate so that's the direction I'm moving in. My problem is that I'm never satisfied and just keep tweaking things. At some point I'll say 'enough already' and just forge ahead...I hope.

Friday, July 16, 2010


I just realized that it's been a little over a year since I began this blog. At the time, I was having a bit of a difficult time going from a very structured academic day to the new found freedom of retirement. I found that I wasn't using my time constructively and spent my days floundering from one thing to another; not really accomplishing anything worthwhile. Also, I was missing the daily artistic stimulation that was provided by my students and colleagues. After 35 years of working in a vibrant creative environment, I was adrift in time and solitude and needed to reinvent my daily routine - quickly.

I was very happy when my husband presented me with a laptop as a retirement gift. Once I discovered the art of "surfing the net", I was amazed at the number of excellent sites related to printmaking and began to use my computer as a means to find interesting projects and exhibitions. Just for the fun of it (and I didn't really know what I was doing) I decided to start a blog to record my progress.

On my drawing table, is the just completed edition of 50 prints for the Littlest Print Exchange, which I completed yesterday.

As I look back on the past year, I'm happy with what I've accomplished. I've found a way to add some structure to my day that helps me set goals and keeps me focused on my work. As an added and unexpected bonus, I've met some great artists and printmakers on line that have been inspiring and supportive. I've found some interesting projects and exhibitions to participate in and I'm happy that I've been able to establish a healthy studio work routine. Now to keep it up!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Littlest Print

The Littlest Print Exchange is a juried trade of tiny art prints. Chris Clark started it last year and artists were invited to submit an edition of 50 prints and in return received a portfolio of 50 prints from all 50 individual artists. http://littlestprintexchange.blogspot.com/ What makes this exchange particularly challenging is the size requirement. They really are small prints!

This year, participants in the exchange are asked to consider the theme of Cliché when producing work for the 2010 portfolio. Paper must be exactly 3” X 3” but the image size is up to the individual artists.

Along this line, I decided to focus on the idea of feminine beauty. Women are constantly bombarded with beauty issues through advertisements, television and magazine articles. What constitutes perfection? How do women “measure up”? The old clichés: “Beauty is only skin deep”, “Beauty is as beauty does”, and “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” immediately come to mind in this image driven society.

I created a composition dealing with the idea of the perfect pair of jeans, waist measurements and lacing up in a corset to meet the “ideal” proportions. The image was transferred to a sheet of acetate and exposed onto a Solarplate. After printing, I hand colored the measuring tape using watercolor.

My plate measures 2.25” X 2”. This was the smallest intaglio I’ve ever done and it was a little tricky wiping a plate that small. Just to emphasize the small size, I photographed the plate next to a brayer.

Monday, June 14, 2010


This is the finished print for Print Zero's 2010 exchange. After experimenting, I decided to print the background plate over the plate with the figures. I liked the way the words appear to be flying around the figures as though they're deep in conversation.

I used Akua ink and printed on dry Hahnemhule Copperplate which made the registration easy.

“Who gossips with you will gossip of you” Irish Quote

First Proofs

Spent yesterday trying different things with the plates. I adjusted colors, ink consistency and the order in which the plates are printed. I'm still not satisfied with what I'm getting so I plan on another day of proofing. Hopefully I'll end up with something I'm happy with before the day is over.

The top image shows the plate with the figures printed over the background plate. This is the first figurative plate I made that was too deeply bitten and caused inking problems because of open biting.

The second proof is the opposite; the background plate printed over the figures. This is the newer figurative plate made using Solarplate so there is more detail and inking is more consistent.

I like what's happening with the text because I'm getting a sense of words flying between the two conversationalists. At this point, the quest is to find just the right marriage between ink, pressure, wiping and plate registration. Back to work.


Printing multiple plates requires good registration so this is the system I’m using for this piece. First I placed a sheet of paper, cut to the finished size, underneath the Plexiglass that protects the press bed. One right angle of matte board is taped down, away from where the paper will be placed. A second right angle of matte board will be butted against the first. The inked plate will be positioned against this second right angle and then the cardboard will be carefully removed. Paper is lined up in reference to the sheet under the Plexiglass. I find that this works pretty well and gives me consistent registration.

Plate Making and Proofing

This is the background plate intaglio inked in a blue gray and then relief rolled in a pale peach color.

The second plate with the figures was intaglio inked in a dark gray. This is one of the old photopolymer plates which is deeply bitten. Even though the plate was exposed to an aquatint screen, there are inking problems because of "open biting".

I decided to burn a new plate for the figures using a new Solarplate and was much happier with the outcome; more detail. Next step is to see how and if the two plates work together.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Exchange Project Underway

I've been playing around with ideas for an upcoming exchange project and have spent the last couple of days working out kinks. My plan is to use two different plates so I can overlap images. Using a combination of scanned textural drawings, photographs and text, I used Photo Shop to manipulate the images and came up with these negatives.

I found some old photo poymer plates; don't even remember who makes them. I was curious to see if they were still viable and found that they were. As I worked with them, I remembered how they had a tendency to develop too quickly and easily became "over bitten". I went ahead anyway to see what developed.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Visual Nourishment

I always like to remind people that even though science and technology continues to shape our future, it's art that nurtures our soul. So as my husband was down in DC focusing on the first part of that statement I was with him, immersed in the second.

I spent 4 great days visiting the galleries and museums in our Capitol. It was like a creative booster shot. I wandered for hours through the National Gallery, Portrait Gallery, Museum of American Art, and the Hirshorn; just to name a few. Having done a few body prints of my own, I enjoyed seeing the work of Yves Kline and watching videos of his process.

Favorite artists like Lautrec, Kollowicz, Bartlett, and Dine, along with an interesting array of contemporary artists, occupied my days. The National Museum of the American Indian had a wonderful exhibition showcasing creative work by contemporary Native American artists using contemporary materials in traditional processes.

The serenity of the National Botanical Garden's rain forest provided a break from the gallery hopping and gave me time to reflect. I rounded out the trip with a visit to the majestic National Cathedral and was awed by the craftsmanship and sheer magnitude of this architectural masterpiece.

While in the area, I also took the opportunity to visit the new location of the Washington Printmakers at the Pyramid Atlantic Art Center. Their new space provides a much larger exhibition area then they had when located in Dupont Circle. The building also houses various studio spaces so I had a chance to poke around in studios that were set up for papermaking, lithography, intaglio, letterpress and bookmaking. I was glad I stopped in to visit.

All in all, I arrived home well nourished, both visually & spiritually, with an eagerness to get back in the studio.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Field Trip Time

Got out of the studio today and took a drive up north and spent a great Saturday afternoon at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art http://www.carlemuseum.org/ Not only did I get to see a wonderful Antonio Frasconi exhibition and sit in on a presentation about "Printmaking for a Better Planet" but I also got to meet Annie Bissett, a fellow printmaker whose work I greatly admire. It's great to finally meet someone in the flesh that, up until now, I've only been corresponding with in the virtual world.

The presentation at the Carle was about a topic that I've been focused on for the past 15 years, in both my classroom and home studio; safer printmaking. It was presented by Zea Mays, a studio in Florence, Mass. http://www.zeamaysprintmaking.com/ Liz Chalfin, the director of Zea Mays, along with 4 other artists (including Annie), focused on how the rich traditions of printmaking can be honored in today's world of "green" technology by exploring alternative printmaking processes that are safer for artists and the environment. Liz showed slides of the great studio space at Zea Mays and the artists shared their work, processes and spoke about the challenges they faced in switching over to “greener” printmaking methods.

The presentation was followed by a demonstration of Moku Hanga (relief printing) by Annie Bissett. http://www.anniebissett.com/ http://woodblockdreams.blogspot.com/ The photo is a shot of Annie in action. All in all, it was well worth the trip.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Finding time & balance

I've been very busy lately with travel and various obligations that I haven't had time to invest in new work. I'm feeling pulled in too many directions and unfortunately the one direction I need to head in the most, the studio, has been out of reach. Because of this, I'm feeling a bit out of sorts. I find this happens to me when I'm "out of balance"; that is, I'm not taking care of my creative needs on a regular basis. I need to set up a schedule so that I stop putting my studio time after everything else gets done.

Also, I've decided to take a different direction from my usual way of working and give up control, for an anticipated outcome, and just try to see what happens through "play" and experimentation. Having focused on printing editions, I feel it's time to loosen up and explore the unpredictability of monotypes. So, with this in mind I plan to get back in the studio next week and refocus my direction and hopefully recalibrate my psyche.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Company in the Woods

Ahhh, spring is in the air and a young turkey's fancy turns to .....

This fine specimen showed up in the woods just outside my back deck, in all his feathered splendor, and spent some time strutting around trying to attract some attention. Quite the sight! Sorry to say that when a female finally did show up, she looked him over and keep on walking. Well, there's always another day.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

So Much Rejection

Well, it's been a time of rejections for me. I sent three prints off to the IPCNY New Prints / 2010 Spring and received word last week that they weren't accepted. This morning I received an email notice from the Center for Contemporary Printmaking that my submission for the 2010 Footprint International had been rejected. It's all up to the preferences of the judges and in the art world, you've got to be able to take rejection.

So, it's back to the drawing board (and the printing press!)

"Every rejection is incremental payment on your dues that in some way will be translated back into your work." James Lee Burke

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Another Print "Sketch"

This 4" X 6" print was created with an ImagOn plate and includes a relief printed texture, watercolor and cotton thread. The image was assembled in Photo Shop using some of my personal photos and scanned lace. I'll call this one "Cradle II". (I like the play on words.)

During my studio spring cleaning, I came across an antique relief woodblock that I had picked up on my travels; probably used to print fabric. I wanted to use an off-set again so I inked up the block and printed it on a sheet of acetate. This allowed me to use the acetate image to apply a second color ink to the intaglio inked main plate.
I like the effect of the relief block over the intaglio plate.

Small Prints

I've been playing around with images for small prints suitable for exchange projects. I was hoping to send a few pieces off to the BIMPE (6th Biennial International Miniature Print Exhibition) but as usual, I may not meet the mailing deadline.

I'm forging ahead anyway with the idea that these small works will be "sketches" for larger prints. I can easily experiment with images, plate development, inks and layering and work out ideas before moving on to larger plates.

This piece measures 4" X 4.5" and was created with an ImagOn plate inked & wiped as an intaglio in light blue gray. I printed a rubber stamp directly on the plate before printing to create an off-set bull's eye. The second plate is a Solarplate; inked as a relief and printed over the first.


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Fabulous Flat Files

Spring cleaning is underway in the studio. It's amazing how quickly things begin to pile up and before you know it there are so many stacks of paper and prints laying around that you can't fine what you're looking for. So I decided to go on a mission to see if I could solve my print storage problems.

Everyone I spoke to said that flat files were the way to go. However, after a little on line research I was convinced that I was out of luck; the price of a new flat file was over $800 for one 5 drawer unit! I was beginning to consider other storage alternatives when someone suggested craig's list.

After a quick search on craig's list, I found just what I was looking for. Less than 2 hours away in Massachusetts, was a Stacore unit in great condition, with a base, for only $400. My husband and I picked it up yesterday and it is now sitting in the studio ready to be filled. Sometimes lady luck is on your side!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Spring Fever

Spring is a time for new beginnings and I enthusiastically welcome the opportunity for a fresh start. After traveling and being away from the studio for few weeks, I'm more than ready to tackle new projects. In fact I have so many ideas running through my head that I'm experiencing a creative brain freeze! My plan for the week is to get organized; review the options I have for upcoming shows and exchanges, track due dates and set some REALISTIC goals. With any luck, I'll have a couple of pieces underway by the end of the week

As the old Irish Proverb reminds us, "If you do not sow in the spring you will not reap in the autumn."

Monday, March 29, 2010

Time Away

Last week I was fortunate enough to spend some time on a beautiful Caribbean Island. Needless to say, it was wonderful to get away from the drab and rainy New England weather, bask in the sunshine and drink in the sights and sounds of a tropical paradise.

As I write this post, it is another gray & rainy day here at home so I'm making it a point to think about last weeks beautiful weather and remind myself that spring is on its way.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Layer 8

I just finished adding a darker value to my little girdled figure. (The print is only 3.5" X 3.5".) The image has a impressionistic, painterly quality to it but at this point I'm contemplating creating a second plate to add dark outlines. I'll let it sit for awhile before I call it finished.

I did however accomplish what I set out to do; that is just have fun with the process, move along and not worry about the outcome. A few more of these exercises wouldn't hurt.