Friday, August 31, 2012

Variations on a theme

I find the dialogue of printing so engaging. Printing from etched plates allows me to explore variations on a theme. I can ask "what if" and then touch and see the answer. 

How do I decide? Sometimes consciously, usually intuitively, I reach for different elements to "sound" out the theme. Years of printmaking have placed the some of those conscious decisions in my hands leaving me free to improvise and explore. I can play with the contrast between the ink in the lines and the ink tone on the surface of the plate  I can use different papers and add different elements. 

Lately, I have been "using my left hand" so to speak, by using water based inks which have a different drying time and consistency than the oil based inks I used for years. It means more "mistakes" or as I sometimes like to call them "surprises", as what I thought would happen and what happens are two different realities. But come to think about it, isn't that a part of dialogue too?

This week I continued to play with the 3 x 3" plates that I made at Zea Mays. The same plates are inked with different colors, printed on different papers, combined on top of each other, next to each other or sometimes whimsically tickled with a inked feather and a bit of handmade paper. Like a nest builder, I choose and gather my materials and weave them into a dwelling place.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Cultivating mistakes

Reading a good book by Jonah Lehrer, How We Decide. - it offers good perspective for artists on the importance of making mistakes.
"Mistakes aren't things to be discouraged. On the contrary, they should be cultivated and carefully investigated." and a few pages later,  "Unless you experience the unpleasant symptoms of being wrong, your brain will never revise its models. Before your neurons can succeed, they must repeatedly fail. There are no shortcuts for this painstaking process."
I had a day printing where I pulled print after print that did not work for me, but because I had recently read this book, I took some time to look at what didn't work for me and called it a day of cultivating mistakes. The next day, sure enough, was a better day of prints.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Loving my newly etched plates

Thank you Zea Mays Printmaking Studio in Florence Ma for a great etching workshop! I used etching, spit bite, coffee lift and drypoint on these first two plates. Then I added a different color to each plate and printed them together.  Back in my own studio at  ArtSpace Maynard, I am having a great time working with the plates in different combinations and on different papers with Akua waterbased intaglio inks.